Le Grand Jeu - What is it?
It’s a deck of 52 cards plus 2 significators, 1 lady and 1 man. While it’s often called the Petit Lenormand’s big brother (or sister), it’s not related to, and bears no resemblance to that deck. It’s unique among most divination card systems in that it was never intended to be used as a game. It was designed strictly for divination and fortune-telling purposes!
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It’s also unique in the fact that it neatly combines cartomancy, mythological stories, and letter, flower, and constellation meanings on each card, all of which are woven together to provide a unified concept as well as offering various perspectives on the situation in question.
How does it compare to the Petit Lenormand?
The most obvious difference between the 2 Lenormand decks can be seen clearly in the imagery on the cards. The Petit Lenormand cards each contain 1 main image and it’s an object that everyone can relate to such as a ship, a dog, a ring, and a mountain. These simple images are combined to create blocks of thought and are well-suited for common everyday questions.
In contrast, the Grand Jeu Lenormand’s cards each contain a playing card, 3 images based on Roman-Grecco or Egyptian mythology or classical philosophy, constellations (which also impart mythological stories of the gods), a Victorian flower language bouquet, a letter whose meaning is derived primarily from the Kabbalistic numerical alphabet, and on some cards (22 to be exact), a geomantic figure.
While both the Petit and Grand Jeu decks were named after Marie Anne Lenormand, and neither was created until after her death, the Grand Jeu was actually designed to mimic the techniques she used in her practice.
The Petit Lenormand was originally a German board game called, “Das Spiel der Hoffnung” or the Game of Hope, and was later repurposed as a divination tool under her name, but it wasn’t a system she used. The Grand Jeu was created by Madame Breteau who claimed to be a student of Madame Lenormand, though as far as we know, Marie never taught. However, writings based on first-hand accounts of those who received readings from Ms. Lenormand confirm that her methods are portrayed in the images on the Grand Jeu cards.
Madame Lenormand wrote dozens of books in her lifetime, but none were intended to share her methods or instruct. As best we can tell, the cards she used to divine with were playing cards. Unfortunately, upon her death, her only surviving family member was a nephew who was in the army and he alone became heir to her estate. Being a devout Catholic, he burned all occult paraphernalia that was found among her belongings, but kept the monetary fortune that was estimated at 500,000 francs. For this reason, she left no cards or other divination tools behind as evidence of her practice.
What is this system best suited for?
Like any card system, one who becomes fluent in its language can use it to answer any type of question. Coming from the Petit Lenormand, I began by using the Grand Jeu to answer the same types of questions that I was asking of the Petit Lenormand with excellent results.
● I find it quite easy to answer yes/no questions using only one Grand Jeu card.
● It’s as well-suited to descriptive or intuitive interpretations as tarot. It’s as fun to read intuitively and as valuable a source of advice as oracle cards. The stories associated with the myths provide valuable insights as do the booklets that accompany most oracle decks.
● I think what I find most intriguing about this system is the fact that the answers it provides are extremely explicit and unambiguous, which I attribute to one simple fact: the stories associated with the myths have distinct and fixed meanings, lessons, and advice which are almost impossible to misinterpret.
● Consider that the simple images of the Petit Lenormand lend themselves to several different ideas. For example, the Ring can refer to a contract, an appointment, a promise, something of great value, or a continuous cycle. Which idea you choose will depend upon your question asked, the context of the surrounding story, and the influence of the other cards in the spread.
● Consider as well, that the images on tarot cards are more similar to those we find on the Grand Jeu cards in that they display people of various ages along with many animals, performing various activities within different landscapes. But, tarot’s images, while intended to relay a particular idea to the reader, can still be interpreted in several ways. Many would argue that this is the beauty of tarot and I wouldn’t disagree. But, in comparison, I think the beauty of the Grand Jeu system is the fact that the stories behind its images provide definite and unquestionable answers when drawn for specific questions.
In conclusion, regardless of the type of card system you already use, you’ll most certainly find the unique voice of the Grand Jeu to be an exciting addition to your practice. I think Madame Lenormand would agree!
Author of The Petit Lenormand Oracle and The Petit Lenormand Grand Tableau
Session 1: Method of Distance
Session 2: Grand Jeu Lenormand.
Lisa Young-Sutton is an author and perpetual student of life, particularly meditation, spirituality, and divination. Other than the Petit Lenormand, she studies ancient divination practices such as the I Ching, as well as the Akashic Records, channeling higher intelligence, and the power of the superconscious mind. Known for her fun and easy teaching style with a focus on self-empowerment, she’s the author of The Petit Lenormand Oracle: A Comprehensive Manual For The 21st Century Card Reader and The Petit Lenormand Traditional Grand Tableau: A New Look at the Method of Distance.
Find out more about Lisa here: https://lisaloveslenormand.com .