Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand was born in 1772 in the Alencon region of France. She is widely regarded as being the most profound cartomancer (card reader) that the country has ever produced. Her talents have inspired generations of tarot card readers and even now there are still tarot card decks that bear her name. It seems that Marie Lenormand had a gift for not only seeing what was hidden within the images of the cards she read, she was also widely respected as a fortune teller too. She is believed to have been consulted by some of the most powerful people in France, including members of the court of Napoleon. She is recorded in the history books as being an adviser to Josephine de Beauharnais, husband of Napoleon Bonaparte, advising her that both she and her husband would rise above the population and become greater than any king and queen. All this was at a time when Napoleon was nothing more than a French army officer.[more-link]
How She Worked
Madame Lenormand did not keep her thoughts nor her views to herself and she produced many publications to this end. Her views were not widely accepted by the general population and the powers that be were unwilling to let her self promotional publications go unchecked. She ended up in prison on a number of occasions although she never seemed to stay incarcerated for very long. All of the tools of her trade have been lost to the ravages of time, and there is some doubt as to whether the decks of cards that bear her name bear any resemblance to the cards that she used in her divinations.
It is a known fact that she preferred to work with playing cards as opposed to a tarot deck. Although not her cards of choice Marie Lenormand was well versed in tarot interpretation methods and was also a keen astrologer. There are numerous reports from the time stating that she also used a variety of other tools in her divination work, some fairly traditional such as tea leaves and mirrors and others slightly more obscure such as eggs and even a rooster. Though it was her deck of playing cards that regularly accompanied her on her trips to prison; in fact she was never seen parted from them.
A Lasting Legacy
While there may be some doubts about the cards in use today that bear her name, and their authenticity there is no doubt whatsoever in the fact that the techniques she used, whatever they were, brought unparalleled results. She was so accurate in her predictions that she became a person of interest to the fledgling leaders of the new republic as well as the police. It didn’t help her cause when she publicly predicted the deaths of these revolutionary leaders, leading to more prison stays. Yet all of this publicity served to fuel her popularity with the public in general. She lived not only through many of the things that she had foretold, including the revolution and the rise and fall of Napoleon, she also made a comfortable living from her gifts. She died in Paris in 1843 at the age of seventy one.