Review by: Alison Coals
The author and artist of the deck, according to the accompanying book, is a practicing Wiccan and Reiki Master, as well as the holder of both a BA and MA in Anthropology, and a PhD in Latin American Studies. She now runs Magickal-Musings.com. She works with several Egyptian deities, and has channelled the images for the deck, which she then hand-drew and coloured using various types of pencils, crayons, and markers. The result is a very vibrant, brightly-coloured set of cards with a simple, almost child-like quality to them.
The cards are good quality, and are laminated on both sides so they should last well. They’re a reasonable size (7cm by 10.5cm), so I can shuffle them easily, and have no borders. The backs are decorated with the Eye of Horus.
They come in a sturdy box (15cm by 23cm), with a magnetic clasp and ribbon pull, which also contains a 175-page companion book complete with full colour illustrations.
The first half of the book covers interpretations of the cards. For each card, the author has provided keywords and the playing card association (which also appears on the top right-hand corner of each card), an interpretation, and the ‘Ancient Egyptian meaning’. The latter doesn’t seem to add to the interpretation, but the author has included it to support her choice of image for the card.
Khepri has chosen to re-name a number of the cards, and explains her reasons for this in the description and interpretation of each. She has attempted to find symbols that resonate with ancient Egyptian culture. Hence the Coffin becomes the Sarcophagus, Stork becomes Ibis, Bear becomes Sacred Cow, The Tower becomes the Obelisk, the Cross the Djed Pillar, and so on. These all make sense in the context of the deck’s theme, but this might be a little off-putting to a newcomer to the Lenormand. The simplicity of the drawings do reflect the aspects of daily life in most cases, even though they are not always immediately recognizable in the more traditional Lenormand system.
There are two sets of male and female cards: card 28 comes in the form of God as well as Pharoah, with card 29 as Goddess and Priestess. I have to admit I find the images for these a little confusing but that’s more to do with my unfamiliarity with Egyptian images than anything else! Both sets seem rather ‘elevated’ in terms of status; I would have preferred a choice between one of these and a more down-to-earth pairing.
There is an extra card in the deck, the Cat (numbered 37). This is offered as either an alternative to Dog (in which case it carries the same meaning) or as an extra card. It carries the same playing card affiliation (10 Hearts) as Dog, but the author has provided different keywords for the card when it’s used as an additional card – intelligent, aloof, secretive, territorial, playful and alert. The author does not explain why she chose to add this card, but I have seen this in other Lenormand decks and can see how it might be useful. One of the uses of Cat in this deck is to draw attention to whatever card falls before it in a spread.
The second half of the book contains a section on how to read the Lenormand cards, as well as three sections pertaining to the use of the deck for healing and magic, health and healing, and the power of magic for manifestation. In the ‘reading’ section the author goes through 3-, 5- and 7-card spreads, providing examples for each. She doesn’t look at 3×3 readings or the Grand Tableau, but goes on to work through a 10-card Pyramid of Isis spread (which looks very similar to Rachel Pollack’s triangular tarot spread). I enjoyed this, simply because it was a bit different, although I do like the ‘completeness’ of using all the cards in the GT.
The next section explains how to activate the deck for healing and magical purposes. The author explains that although the Lenormand system is a method of divination, she received channeled messages about additional uses for these particular cards, making the Egyptian Lenormand an atypical deck. Two extra cards, called ‘Activation Keys’, are included for this purpose; these are identical to the backs of all the other cards, differentiated only by the word ‘Activation’ written across the bottom.
Following this is a section called ‘Health and Healing’, which I found quite interesting, having just run a workshop on Astrology and Health! The author refers frequently to work by Andy Boroveshengra and Sylvie Steinbeck in these pages, which list associations that are wholly health-related.
The final section of the book is entitled ‘The Power of Magic for Manifestation’, which I suspect will be of more interest to readers who incorporate this into their work – something I have only recently been introduced to, thanks to Chloë McCracken’s blog articles. Again, the author goes through the cards one-by-one, this time listing their magical associations. She also includes a chart listing the Egyptian deities associated with each of the cards in this deck.
It’s an interesting idea for a deck, but it doesn’t quite work for me. I think it might be challenging for a newcomer to the Lenormand, although the book is written in very plain language and is easy to understand (although like some other Schiffer publications it’s in need of a good editor!). For those who are interested in the health associations or who incorporate magic into their work, I can see that the second part of the book could hold some appeal. And of course I’m sure it will appeal to anyone with knowledge of Ancient Egypt and its mythology!
The Egyptian Lenormand
Author/artist: Nefer Khepri
Published by Schiffer 2014
Available from Gazelle Books and all good retailers.