Earlier in the year, a student of another mentor enquired what thoughts I had on utilising middle cards (3 x 3) or hinge cards (lines of five, seven, or nines) for timing. The student had found the system inadequate and unreliable. Personally, such a timing technique, derived through centre-cards, do not feature in my practice. Consequently, it is not something this author can offer opinions or comment on specifically.*
As a cartomante employing the Petit Lenormand, my preference is to focus on the pace or flow, of cards, whether they be swift or sedate, to determine whether events are fast or slow. After this, the time frame can be refined through a five-card “when” line (taught in workshops, and the original cartomantes’ cabinet course). In such lines, cards are read in terms of period, “movement,” and “value,” to determine date ranges.
Time is not linear. Modern physics is showing us that time is multi-dimensional and consists more of layers than a line. It is the fourth dimension where one perceives space and time.
As one has aged, the pace of life has quickened. As a cartomante, the cards have, in my experience, reflected the speed at which changes, and events, occur. The Letter can arrive far quicker than in the early 1990s.
These days, a Grand Tableau, of thirty-six cards, covers no more than sixteen weeks (and I am being generous with that figure, too). Similarly, the 3 x 3, comprised of a ¼ of the deck, can be safely timed as four weeks max. No more.
Taking the Grand Tableau as sixteen weeks and 3 x 3 as four weeks can give the cartomante a timing structure derived through percentage.
Naturally, associations such as winter and Easter, are less likely to appear in readings than morning and evening. And, the Petit Lenormand has cards of these values.In addition to determining cards through their celerity, or how they move, the Petit Lenormand contains cards affiliated with timing. The Bouquet, the Sun, the Scythe, and the Lily with spring, summer, autumn, and winter, and the Birds with Eastertide. The Tree, paired with either the Sun or the Lily, can denote the rule of the Oak King or the Holly King, respectively.
Our four cards associated with diurnal motion are the Sun, the Garden, the Moon, and the Stars cards.
The Sun card can be read as the morning, and if the Coffin precedes it, the period between astronomical dawn and sunrise (if it follows then one can say sunset). Night-time, which occurs between twilight and the astronomical dawn, is the period covered by the Stars. The Moon card is the twilight that occurs between sunset and dusk. The Garden card is the period between noontide and sunset – traditionally social times, where one lunches and calls.
When can the cartomante read the Moon as evening, or the Sun as morning? When both context and draw indicate it is appropriate. Generally, such a reading occurs in daily-draws, short-lines or, the first three (or four) cards of the Grand Tableau. Of course, a certain card, such as the Ship (a journey) or the Cavalier (an arrival), can also be timed by these cards, e.g. the Boat + the Stars as a night journey.
In the short-lines below, taken from the opening cards of Grand Tableaus, each contain a diurnal motion card which have been read as such. Of course, in the wider context of a full-board, these cards can, and do, mean other things, too. But as the opening cards give a statement, sometimes a precipitant event, or one to occur very soon, we can often read the cards as a time indicator.
Here the Lord takes a morning commute. These cards were drawn for me, signified by the Lord. That day, I travelled to London via train.
Although the Garden and the Bouquet card can indicate a botanical garden, a beautiful landscape, beauty parlour, or art gallery, et cetera, the cards were read as the Lady meeting a girlfriend in the afternoon. The Lady had a pleasant shopping trip and lunch with her sister.
The Letter – the Moon – the Serpent
The Letter card is a picture of personal communications, between two people, which is not face-to-face (like the Cavalier). The Letter facilitates such conversations which, in our time, includes telephone calls and Skype. In recent times it has become popular for the Birds to appropriate this function; however, both Erna Droesbeke and Uta Dittrich consider telephone calls as something that connects to the Letter card. Arguments that pigeons were used as couriers forget an important detail: the birds were couriers, carrying a message which is a Cavalier function. The pigeons did not read the message to the recipient they just delivered it!
Here, the Letter card falls first, which in my experience, indicates that the client initiates the Letter/makes the call. The client was female, and these cards indicate sending a message to the Serpent in the evening. The client had to telephone her supervisor.
The House – the Stars – the Cavalier
Finally, these three cards are easy and self-explanatory. The Cavalier calls at night.
Sometimes one sees two timing cards together. If the Sun and the Stars fall side by side, we know that we are dealing with the period between morning and night. If the Stars preceded the Sun card, I would read that as before the next sunrise. If the Cross is involved, such as Stars + Cross, I would read that as the preceding night as the Cross is a tense card (that is it tells what is present and what is past tense (left) and future (right)).
In the Petit Lenormand, cards are multi-variant and one card can have several layers, especially in the Grand Tableau. The timing associations of these four cards are just another function which becomes activated when both context and draw agree. However, the function must be inherent to the card – not just a position in spread.
Cards: Jeu Lenormand © Cartamundi (1982).
Image: Astronomische Uhr, Wahlfahrtskirche Birnau, Ueberlingen Saberhagen [Public domain]
* After the student’s initial communication, I began an examination of the central card method. Having completed over thirty readings (lines, 3 x 3, the Widdershins’ Star, et cetera), I have had no success in timing with such a method.
Much of the unreliability centres on both the conjecture that the central card should have such a particular function, but also on determining the schedule. Does one utilise the numerical value, e.g. the Cavalier as one and the Garden as 20, or the playing-cards (the Cavalier = 9 ♥; the Garden = 8♠)? Ultimately, such a method, devoid of essence or seasonal observation, is predominately erroneous.