Gypsy Fortunes Extras

Supplemental to the book!


A Gypsy Meditation

The Whitman Deck

Mademoiselle Lenormand

Reading for re-election of George W. Bush

Reading Techniques

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Mademoiselle Lenormand

We introduce Marie Anne Le Normand because the design of the Gypsy Fortunes deck traces its lineage back to her as a cartomancer and deck creator. She is best known for her famous predictions in the life of Josephine Beauharnais. They met when Josephine was a young widow. At that time Marie Anne read her future in the cards and declared that Josephine would meet and marry a soldier who would later crown her Empress. That soldier turned out to be Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1807 Josephine convinced Napoleon to have his palm read by Marie Anne who foretold their divorce and related details of his character and tastes. He asked Marie Anne to put it all in writing
whereupon he delivered that document to the police and had her arrested on Dec. 11, 1809. She was detained for 12 days while he accomplished the divorce.

Marie Anne read the cards and palms of many famous people of the period such as Robespierre and Saint-Just. She predicted the death of Joachim Marat, Napolean’s cavalry leader. In consultation with Mlle. Le Normand, Marat repeatedly drew the King of Diamonds until she finally threw the cards at him and declared he was for the gallows or firing squad. He was executed by firing squad in 1815.

While alive, Marie Anne wrote at least one book about her fortune telling experiences, detailing the accurate predictions she had made for many famous people. Skeptics declare this to be nothing but fantasy, stating that her
predictions were made up after the fact. After her death, there are many stories about a manuscript containing card designs and meanings along with spread or layout definitions. Once source claims this manuscript was lost for many years until the gypsies revealed it in 1893 along with the design of two decks. Her great niece, Camille claimed that a manuscript was willed to her by Marie Anne.

Very soon after Marie Anne’s death in 1843, it appears that many cardmakers in Europe began attaching her name to their various products. It is not clear that she had anything to do with their design though some sources state these designs came from that mysterious manuscript. The manuscript published by her great niece, Camille, includes card drawings, but the art is very primitive and is that of a standard playing card deck. These decks have been copied and reinterpreted by various publishers and artists for over 150 years. The two main decks attributed to her are the Petit Jeu of 37 cards and the Grand Jeu of 54 which corresponds exactly to the modern poker deck, save for the addition of beautiful artistic scenes. The Petit Jeu is composed of 4 suits of 9 cards each: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, and Clubs; King, Queen, Jack, 10, 9, 8 ,7, 6, and Ace along with one card depicting Marie Anne herself, to serve as the Consultant or Querent card. The added art on these cards is very similar to that of the Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards published by Whitman in 1940, about 100 years later. The exception is that the Whitman deck does not have suits or court cards. The art is less cluttered and complicated and therefore, the interpretation is much clearer and intuitive.

The sequence of the cards is different in the various versions of the Petit Jeu. Some are exactly like the Gypsy fortunes you have in hand with the first four cards being Sun, Moon, House, and Key. Another version has The Letter (read by a man), Flowers (held by a woman), The Ring, and The Sun for the first four. A popular version has as the first six cards: The Cavalier (Rider), The Clover, The Ship, The House, The Tree, and The Cloud. We chose to stay true to Whitman’s Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards with its simple yet profound art completely divorced from the strictures of suits and court cards.

In 1898 Camille Le Normand published a book about the science of cartomancy as revealed to her by her Great Aunt, the celebrated Marie Anne Le Normand. This book is entitled Wehman’s Fortune Telling By Cards. In it, Camille stresses that only the exact definitions listed need be memorized, declaring that these rules of cartomancy are equivalent in scientific principle to the geometry of Pythagoras. However, in card reading today, the import of the symbols is determined solely by the reader. Divination is an intuitive science. Any one given symbol may have different yet equally valid meanings for different card readers. For example, Card 3 The House means comfort and security to me, a Cancer who appreciates retreating to her ‘shell’ and is an avowed homebody; while that same house symbol may mean hard work and a career to a card reader who also works as a carpenter. In the readings I give, the House indicates comfort and security. In the readings given by the carpenter, the House indicates a favorable project at work. Both are valid and accurate for the time and place in which the querent or questioner has
requested the card reading.

Camille's detailed card definitions and reading layouts are a great source of information for reading with a 52 card poker or bridge deck, provided the cards are reversible, which most modern decks are not. That is, in most modern decks, if a card is dealt upside down, it looks exactly the same as right side up. There is no reverse. According to the system laid out in Camille’s book the reversals are absolutely necessary. The Gypsy Fortunes deck has upright oriented art and is therefore reversible.

Another interesting element of the system detailed by Camille is that the cards must always be cut with the left hand. During the shuffle, when the querent and card reader concentrate on the specific question being asked and the cards are shuffled and cut, Camille insists that they only be cut by using the left hand because this is connected to the heart. Interestingly, Chinese acupuncture does show a connection of the heart meridian to the ring finger of the left hand, which is of course, why the wedding band is worn there. Modern card readers tend to develop their own rules or preferences about shuffling and cutting and when and where to use the power hand or dominant hand. Being fairly ambidextrous, I just can’t buy into all these little rules and greatly encourage every card reader to do what feels right and best for her alone, out of love and goodness, not because she read it in a book.

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