Tarot History Search started September 2004       

Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand

The socalled Lenormand Cards were produced after the death of Mademoiselle Lenormand and they were given her name just using her legendary fame. Here you can find many examples of this deck type.

Biographical data tends to give different informations and this is especially a problem in the case of a writer with sybillic fame. "M'lle Lenormand, who was born at Alençon, in 1772, of a respectable family" ... one biography tells.

Another states: "Monsieur Lenormand died young, and his widow, who re-married, did not long survive her second nuptials. The second husband also soon consoled himself for his loss, and took another wife; by which event Mademoiselle Lenormand, her brother and sister, became dependent on the care of a father and mother-in-law; who, to be rid of a young family which did not belong to them, placed the daughters in a convent of Benedictine nuns in the town, from whence, when they had learned all that the good sisters could teach, they were removed to that of the Visitation; and so on through all the convents of Alencon in their turn, after which the future prophetess was apprenticed to a milliner. It was in the house of the Benedictines that Mademoiselle commenced her vocation, by predicting that the superior would soon be deprived of her office; for which ill-boding the young lady was subjected to punishment, and underwent a penance ; but the event soon justified the prediction. She continued the career she had begun by announcing the name, age, and various other particulars respecting the successor of the deprived abbess. There were at the time many candidates for the office, and the ultimate decision remained in doubt and abeyance. Verifying at length the truth of the oracle, it confirmed the pretensions of the damsel to a supernatural power of revealing the events of futurity. But the town of Alençon was too confined a theatre for her aspiring disposition, and the needle too ignoble an instrument for one who aspired to wield the wand of prophecy. She persuaded her mother-in-law to send her to Paris, where her stepfather was then residing ; and at fourteen years of age Mademoiselle Lenormand started for the metropolis, with no other worldly possessions than the clothes on her back, and a piece of six francs in her pocket, given to her by her maternal guardian."
Another biography claims, that she arrived 1790 in Paris ... but, see above, 1772 + 14 "years old" = 1786. Then it's told: She learned her skills working with fortune-teller Madame Gilbert ... a name, that I don't find in two big other biographies with many pages. "A wicked pack cards" by Dummett, Decker & Depaulis, likely the best critical biography, states, that (p. 119) Marie Anne Gilbert was the name of Anne Marie Lenormands mother, who died early, and (p. 117) "Another police research carried out at the woman Gilbert's flat, in the same year [1802], revealed that she owned three packs of cards, including one called Thoth" and that (p. 120) Lenormand was arrested together with a Francois Flammermot and a Louise Gilbert, sentenced to prison and a fine for fortune-telling (9 May 1794). Lenormand herself in 1814 explained this early stay in prison for having preached the counter-revolution "under the awful system of terror". So possibly this "Madame Gilbert" was a relative to Anne-Marie by her mother and perhaps really Lenormands teacher in matters of fortune-telling. But I don't intend for the moment to go to deep in the djungle of contradictions of Mademoiselle Lenormands biography (largely formed by the author herself, who needed an interesting background to earn that money, that she earned), especially as the reader has two big biographies at the end of the list below, available on the web. Excessive and critical research had done:

  • Dummett, Decker and Depaulis: A Wicked Pack of Cards, New York 1996.

    Basic data for Anne Marie Lenormand: (* 27. Mai 1772 in Alençon, Basse-Normandie; ? 25. Juni 1843 in Paris). She claimed to have made cartomancy and very good predictions in many cases, and especially for many famous persons, for instance empress Josephine, Marat, Robespierre, St-Just and Zar Alexander in 1818. Variously she was accused and in prison.
    She wrote a lot of books and became a rich woman by her activities: 500.000 Francs are mentioned, the critical "Wicked pack of cards" reduces this to 120.000 Francs. The same critical "Wicked pack of cards" notes: "Not only was she the most popular clairvoyante of the first decades of the XIXth century, but she remains the most celebrated fortune-teller of all time."

    Lenormand cards are the name of some divination decks, which appeared after the death of Anne-Marie Lenormand - others authors used the well-known name for their own interests:

    The "Grand jeu de Mlle Lenormand" appeared 2 years after her death in the year 1845 and was offered together with a collection of 5 books. The author used the pseudonym "Mme la comtesse de ***" und the publisher had no name but only an address: "46 rue Vivienne". The deck had 54 Karten including a female and a male card presenting the consultant. The content of the 5 books included themes of astrology, chiromanty and other forms of divination. The pictures of the deck showed scenes of Greek mythology, star pictures, geomantic symbols, 22 letters (Kabbala), 7 talismans, playing cards and flowers. Variations of the cards (now with 55 cards) were produced ca. 1850 in Germany by the publisher J.F. Aug. Reiff with the name "Wahrsage-Karten der berühmten Mlle Le Normand". The "Petit Lenormand" with 36 cards was published also ca. 1850. This typus of cards was never produced in France, but was used by card producers in Germany, Austria, Belgium und in the Switzerland. Detlev Hoffmann had shown in 1972, that the game was based on the "Das Spiel der Hofnung, mit einer neuen Figurenkarten von 36 illum. Blättern. 2. verbesserte Auflage" (as 2nd edition published ca. 1800 by G.P.J. Bieling in Nurremberg). The game was only secondary meant as a fortune telling deck, its first use was a running game with dice. The cards were used as the running field and were poisitioned according to the numbers 1-36 (single cells had unlucky or lucky influence on the course of the run - as in other running games). Symbols and ciphers were the same as in the later "Petit Lenormand", each symbol was accompanied by a playing card miniature (either Ansbach or Bavarian/Paris pattern). A connected divination system with cards only used 32 of the 36 symbols.

    (Compare our collection of divination decks)

    Lenormand publications
    • See below: Les souvenirs prophétiques d'une sibylle sur les causes secrétes de son arrestation - Paris (1814) (592 pages)
    • Anniversaire de la mort de l'impératrice Josephine (1815)
    • La sibylle au tombeau de Louis XVI (1816)
    • See below: Les oracles sibyllins ou la suite des souvenirs prophétiques - Paris (1817) (528 pages)
    • See below: La sibylle au congrès d'Aix-la-Chapelle (1819) (316 pages)
    • See below: Mémoires historiques et secrets de l'impératrice Joséphine, Marie-Rose Tascher-de-la-Pagerie, première épouse de Napoléon Bonaparte - Paris (1820) (Part 1: 576 pages / Part 2: ?)
    • Mémoire justificatif présenté par Mlle Le Normand (1821) (20 pages)
    • Cri de l'honneur (1821) (18 pages)
    • Souvenirs de la Belgique - Cent jours d'infortunes où le procès mémorable (1822) (416 pages)
    • See below: L'ange protecteur de la France au tombeau de Louis XVIII (1824)
    • L'ombre immortelle de Catherine II au tombeau d'Alexandre Ier (1826)
    • L'ombre de Henri IV au palais d'Orléans (1830) (107 pages)
    • Le petit homme rouge au château des Tuileries - Paris (1831) (107 pages)
    • Manifeste des dieux sur les affaires de France (1932) (60 pages)
    • See below: Arrêt suprême des dieux de l'Olympe en faveur de Mme. la duchesse de Berry et de son fils (1833) (144 pages)
      possibly also:
    • Histoire de Jean VI. de Portugal, depuis sa naissance jusqu'à sa mort en 1826. - Paris : Ponthieu, 1827

    Some of these you can find in the list below (most French, one text is translated in English), mixed with some more critical voices against Mademoiselle Lenormand. At the end are two English biographies.

    Les souvenirs prophétiques d'une sibylle: sur les causes secrètes de son ... By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1814)

    Oeuvres de F.-B. Hoffmann ... By François Benoît Hoffmann (1829); Les souvenirs prophetiques d'une sybille sur les causes secrètes de son arrestation, le 11 dècembre 1809; par mademoiselle M.-A. Lenormand (critique ; p. 339)

    Les oracles sibyllins; ou, La suite des Souvenirs prophétiques. By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1817)

    La sibylle au Congrès d'Aix-la-Chapelle, suivi d'un coup-d'oeil sur celui de ... By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1819)

    Oeuvres de F.-B. Hoffmann ... By François Benoît Hoffmann (1829) La sybille au congres d'Aix-la-Chapelle; (critique ; p. 362)

    Mémoires historiques et secrets de l'impératrice Joséphine, Marie-Rose ... By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1820)

    Historical and Secret Memoirs of the Empress Josephine (Marie Rose Tascher ... By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand, translated by Jacob Merritt Howard (1848)

    Mémoires de mademoiselles Avrillion, première femme de chambre de l'impératrice, sur la vie privée de Joséphine, sa famille et sa cour (1833)

    L'ange protecteur de la France au tombeau de Louis XVIII By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1824)

    Arrêt suprême des dieux de l'Olympe en faveur de Mme la duchesse de Berry et ... By Marie-Anne Adélaïde Lenormand (1833)

    The Court of Napoleon or Society Under the First Empire ... By Frank Boott Goodrich (3rd edition; 1859) - P. 318-333 Biography of Lenormand)

    Remarkable Women of Different Nations and Ages / Madame Lenormand (Published 1858 ; J.P. Jewett), p. 207-217

    (composed by autorbis)
  • "The prophetess was in person
    excessively fat and ugly."
    (from one of her biographies)

    Cards called Lenormand-cards
    didn't exist during her lifetime
    More examples
    of this deck type.

    Lenormand in prison
    Belgium 1821

    Lenormand with Napoleon
    phantasy scene

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