Gina Pace created the Pagan Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2005), so authoring the Pagan Lenormand (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) was a clear step along the same path. Though in terms of artwork it is closer to the Silver Witchcraft Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2014) by the same artist.
Lo Scarabeo are really breaking the mould this year. Once again, this is a borderless deck, with no international titles. And the box, too, is a nice, solid contraption with a lift-off lid and a ribbon to help get the cards and booklet out.
As for the booklet, it is most definitely not a LWB. Rather, it is nice, has greyscale images to show spread layouts, as well as some decorative images. There is a page devoted to each card, with keywords and an explanation of the Pagan Lenormand image, as well as the Lenormand interpretation
The spreads offered are interesting and thematically appropriate, though some may complain of their single card positional meanings. They are a ten card Gypsy’s Heart Love Spread, an Elemental Square of Nine Spread (a nine square with alternate positional meanings based on the four elements), a six card “U” for Universe Spread, a six card Fork in the Road Spread, and a Pentagram of Five Spread. However, traditional reading methods are left out for the most part – there is no explanation of how to combine card meanings, and no explanation of the Grand Tableau, either.
The only thing that came as a slight disappointment here is that the booklet is only half the length it seems, as it comes in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German (though the foreign language sections are condensed and don’t give the spreads or some additional information). Overall, though, Gina has made thoughtful choices to represent Lenormand ideas in a modern, pagan context. From a labyrinth walking meditation to candlelit spirit guide quests, via a trip to the mountains and pagans in a regular suburban house, she achieves her aim well.
Another aspect I like about the deck is the people cards. As has become frequent practice, there are two man and two woman cards, facing in different directions. These allow same sex readings if desired, but also have two other uses. Firstly, they offer a good cultural balance, with a Native American, an African American, a Caucasian and an Asian figure. Secondly, each wears different colour robes and holds a different object (smudging sage, an incense burner etc), so together they represent the four quarters of a sacred circle, and could be used as such on an altar.
In terms of the cards, the artwork is accomplished, though not everyone may feel comfortable with the robed figures (an issue also raised with the Silver Witchcraft Tarot). Although there are vignettes of modern pagan life on many cards, the Lenormand object or person is still mostly very clear. One slight exception to this is the Dog, which is represented by a spirit Wolf (wild ancestor to the dog). In fact, the Fox, Bear, Stork and Dog are all “spirit guides”, which means they rise up ethereally from meditating people. I guess there aren’t many real wild animals in most modern, urban pagans’ lives, so there is certainly a logic to this.
Each card also has a playing card insert. These are taken directly from the Dondorf Lenormand, which Lo Scarabeo issued as the French Cartomancy deck(Lo Scarabeo, 2005). At first, I found this a little jarring – having an old-fashioned, hand-drawn card insert on these modern, CGI images. However, as it is basically a card from a separate deck, the lack of consistency between the two styles isn’t as strange as having Majors and Minors by different artists in a tarot deck. And it makes a good deal of sense to have something which readers will already be quite familiar with, given how different the images are generally.
Overall, my only complaint about this deck, and unfortunately this is a big one, is its size. The cards are huge, bigger than many tarot decks (well, they are tarot deck height, but more square). They are nearly twice the size of a regular Lenormand deck! So, it comes as no surprise that the companion book doesn’t talk about any spread larger than ten cards: you’d need a huge table or a bed to lay a Grand Tableau. Even a line of five won’t fit on my scanner, and for a line of three I had to turn them sideways and then rotate the image. These are unwieldy, and though I enjoy the theme and the imagery, I sadly won’t be using them very often.