Much of the history of tarot is rooted in France. It's not surprising that Marseille was famous for its paper manufacturers that specialized in playing cards because other forms of divination were popular there as well. Marie Anne Lenormand (1768-1843) was a well-known cartomancer. She enjoyed a privileged relationship with Josephine Beauharnias and her husband, Napoleon Bonaparte, and spent much time reading for the upper classes. Because of her time spent mingling with society at their famous salons, she earned the nickname "Sybille des Salons."
In 1828 a fifty-two-card deck was published. In 1840 it was redesigned and reduced to a thirty-six-card deck. This smaller deck was and still is one of the most popular cartomancy decks available. Lo Scarabeo offers three variations of these Sibyls from France.
The Marseille Oracle Cards are taken from a thirty-two-card deck originally published in 1860. In the fashion of these types of decks, the cards have pictures of everyday items. At the top is a key word to aid the memory of the reader. The French Cartomancy Cards and the Lenormand Oracle cards are similar in that they are both based on the thirty-six-card 1840 deck. Both these decks have the same images and numbering. They differ in artistic style and in their design. The French Cartomancy images fill the entire card, while the Lenormand images are inset on a background. In addition, the French Cartomancy cards include an inset illustration of the playing card originally associated with the card. Neither of these have key words on them.
All of these decks work equally well, so selection is a matter of personal choice. They'd also make great Yuletide presents!
Holiday time is upon us. Below you'll find some suggestions of items that are particularly suited to gift-giving. The decks are unique and beautiful. The beginner products will be welcomed by any novice. The last two were created for and are especially suited to teens and young adults.
For Younger People:
Alternatives to the Celtic Cross
The Celtic Cross can be a useful spread, but personally, it is not my favorite because it can be unwieldy and may not answer specific questions. Designing your spread to answer your specific question is the very best way to go (Teresa Michelsen's Designing Your Tarot Spreads is fabulous).
Here are some ideas that you can do right now.
Quick Tips: Bottoms Up!
After laying and interpreting a spread do you sometimes need to find out the underlying influence in a situation? Or maybe a subconscious motive or desire? Look at the card on the bottom of the deck. It never fails to give additional insight.
Not Your Everyday Tarot Reading
If you would like a reading of a spiritual nature, take the twenty-five cards of the Major Arcana and perform a reading with them. The resultant reading will reveal the esoteric significance of the events going on in your life and tell you how your soul is progressing along its spiritual path.
If you feel confused about any card in a spread, ask a specific question that would clarify it and pull a card. Many tarot readers call this a "clarifier card."
If a card falls out of the deck while you're shuffling, pay special attention to it. It may be a message about the question you're trying to ask.