Divining with Oracle Cards: History and Practice
with Robert M. Place
Four biweekly Classes sponsored by Morbid Anatomy
beginning October 16, 2021
Saturday October 16 & 30, Saturday November 6, and Sunday November 14
2–4 pm Eastern time
$200 full series / $175 for members
$55 per drop-in / $50 for members
follow this link to register:
In modern Western culture, the Tarot is the deck of cards most often associated with divination, while playing cards are relegated to merely playing games. This was, however, not always so.
From the early 14th century, when cards were first introduced in Europe, up until the beginning of the 20th century, playing cards were the preferred tool for divination. In the late 18th century, decks were created in which iconic divinatory symbols were associated with each playing card. These oracle cards, as they were called, were designed specifically for divination, and they became the most popular form until the mid 20th century.
Because they contain simple iconic images—such as a key, a house, a ship, a man, or a woman, each with a focused meaning—oracle cards communicate clearly, and their use in divination is regaining popularity. One of the most widely used forms today is the deck of 36 cards known as the Lenormand, named after the most famous diviner of the Napoleonic era, Mlle. Marie Le Normand. But this is not the only variation.
Often these decks were used to predict the future. In this class. Robert Place offers what he believes is a more useful approach. We can use the cards to forecast where we are heading in the future, but the goal is to help us make wise decisions in the present and avoid problems before they happen. We will learn the symbolism of each card, and various ways of laying out the cards to gain the wisdom needed to solve life’s problems. Although the Tarot is used for a similar purpose, oracle cards are more focused on practical everyday problems such as love and business. Unlike the Tarot, there are specific cards in the deck, which represent separate people in the client’s life. And because the images on the cards are focused on simple iconic images with limited meanings, they are easier for students to learn. Having an oracle deck in one’s arsenal is like having a secret weapon that can quickly focus on a client’s specific problems and challenges.
Place will also introduce the various oracle decks that he has created: The 36 card New York Lenormand (a recreation of a standard Lenormand first published in New York in 1882), the 40 card Burning Serpent Oracle (a creative Lenormand that he created with Rachel Pollack, which has four extra cards), the 54 card Hermes Playing Card Oracle (which is based on a standard set of playing cards with two jokers, but contains all of the 36 Lenormand images plus 18 additional traditional oracle symbols), and An Ukiyo-e Lenormand,a Lenormand deck basedon Japanese art and culture. Because all of these decks are based on the Lenormand, the students will become skilled at using all four decks.
The workshop will begin with a brief discussion of the history of oracle cards, which will provide a deeper understanding of the evolution of the meanings of each card.
Next we will cover the symbolism and meaning of each of the 36 Lenormand cards and the additional cards in Place’s decks. An understanding of the meaning of each card is essential for interpreting them in readings. But the power of oracle decks comes from how the meaning of each card is modified as they are placed next to another card, so we will also learn the meaning of various combinations of cards.
The students will practice laying out cards in combinations of three, five, seven, or nine cards and interpreting them as answers to their questions. The workshop will culminate with the Grand Tableau: a layout that uses every card in the deck and that provides a more extensive forecast of life’s events. By the end of this workshop students will become competent readers with any of Place’s decks and with any standard Lenormand deck.
The series will consist of four two-hour classes:
Because of the coronavirus outbreak,
Tarot at the Met is canceled
until the pandemic is under control enough to allow us to reconvene
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
from 2:00 pm to 4:30 PM
I will once again take a small group of people into the back rooms of the Metropolitan Museum to look at the museum’s collection of historic Tarot and divination cards, ranging from the earliest woodcut Tarocchi, printed in 15th century Italy, to rare 19th century Le Normand divination decks. All accompanied by my talk on the history and symbolism of the cards. This year we will also see one of the oldest and richly illustrated books on divination with cards, Le Sorti, published in Venice in 1540.
The afternoon at the Met is $85 per person, prepaid. Each participant is also responsible for obtaining a ticket for entrance into the museum for the day. There is only room for 14 people at this event so don’t delay; it will fill up quickly. I will be handling this event myself; so all arrangement must be made through me.
To register contact me at:
Payments can be made by PayPal, check, Visa, or Master Card, or by requesting a PayPal invoice.
My Chinese workshops are also being conducted through Zoom.
You can contact Giselle Gao for details:
These photos are from my 2021 class in Hangzhou, China
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Issue 60 of the Restored Temple of Hermes was sent out on March 18, 2021. If you did not receive it you may need to send me an updated email address.