Alexandre Musruck is one of the better known names in the Lenormand world. The reader behind Angel Cartomancy self-published his The Art of Lenormand Reading – Decoding powerful messages in 2016 and was recently picked up by Schiffer Books/Red Feather for a mass market reproduction of said book, including a deck created of the accompanying Lenormand examples. This review comes in two parts, the book and the deck. In this second part: The Art of Lenormand Reading – Decoding powerful messages, mass market edition.
The most important question anyone always asks when a former self-published title goes to market is: “Is this book any different from [the one I already have/the first one]”. Quite often that query results in a resounding no, other than a new design. But when it comes to Schiffer’s The Art of Lenormand Reading – Decoding powerful messages the author indeed added a special section called “The Secret Power of each the 36 Lenormand cards”. These are meanings that will definitely help you in a Grand Tableau. But let’s start with a more general idea of what Alexandre Musruck’s Lenormand title is all about.
The Art of Lenormand Reading – Decoding powerful messages, from here on out The Art of Lenormand Reading for short came to be as Musruck’s wish to introduce others to the system that gave him so much love for decades already. Wanting to be a tarot reader an uncle who’d stayed in Europe for some time accidentally brought home a Lenormand deck instead of the requested Tarot de Marseille (TSQ: assuming here based on the location). After the initial disappointment Musruck fell in love and never looked back. His study book is a way to give back, to promote the French school of Lenormand* and to show others how to be in touch with their own psychic awareness.
With a wish like that a book on Lenormand needs not to be just accessible for the biggest newbie, but also encompass pretty much all there is to know about Lenormand; at least the most important bits. With excellent existing Lenormand titles it is hard to stand out. Only a small group of Lenormand ‘masters’ has the reputation to be recommended and they are had to beat. Musrucks earlier great sales of his self-published title already speak loudly and from what I’ve seen with the mass market edition of The Art of Lenormand Reading – Decoding powerful messages the effort to put himself within that group for good won’t go unnoticed.
Similar to others
Most good Lenormand books have a similar set-up: you get an answer as to why the authors started reading with the system, how to pick a deck, the ‘analytical language’ and differences of Lenormand within cartomancy, and then usually a huge chunk of card per card meaning sections (career, love, financial, looks of a person, nuances) going onto the spreads, starting with 3 cards and building up to the Grand Tableau.
Musruck does exactly the same. No surprise there. The book has the contents you need as a beginner. But it also has a few things other Lenormand teachers didn’t offer. That shows mostly in the way the book is divided and the fact that he shows combination meanings in the ‘reading’ section and has a separate chapter on spirituality – I’ll come to that later.
The paperback is divided a tad bit differently than other books I’ve read so far on the topic. Musruck made the choice to rather have more chapters with fewer pages than bigger chunks with all the info you need. For example, instead of bundling all the keywords, phrases and meanings into one he decided to separate a lot of them.
If you’re looking for – say – the physical attributes of your future lover and if that ‘tall, dark and handsome’ is a myth in more ways than one, you skip on over to the “Physical Attributes” chapter, instead of searching for them with the rest of the keywords. Often times this works well; describing someone’s looks is a different reading type and so is the spirituality thing: a different kind of Lenormand. I was less enthusiastic with the section of keywords *after* the card per card ones. They weren’t topic or type-specific. It almost felt like the setup of the book didn’t leave enough room for all of them with the card page, so they (he) created an extra list with keywords after all 36 had been shown. The problem with that is, that it makes it harder to search for the correct keyword, especially if you are still in the learning stages with Lenormand.
Extra’s; Zodiac & angels & courts
While Musruck is a similar teacher in many ways, compared to other books, he also added some unexpected meanings to the cards. A general message, career, health, love, timing…those are common. But Zodiac signs? Not so much. He not just gave every card a link to the Zodiac, but also to a planet – making a combination with astrology perhaps a more fluent one? I am quite sorry he never explains the use of these meanings and how it would affect a Lenormand reading. The ‘why’ would definitely have made these small sections a more worthy extra.
Apart from that there’s also the mention of Archangels – in case you are, just like Musruck, a reader who involves angelic energy – and he created a distinction for the Love meanings as well: how the keywords presents for a single person and how it would need to be read for one already in a relationship. Here he truly helps a beginner, because this is something you normally need to be able to apply yourself immediately. My personal favourite? The ‘special power’, an excellent explanation of how a card ‘behaves’ or could mean in a box spread or Grand Tableau.
On top of these card meanings Musrucks offers a few new spreads I’d love to try out later (amongst which his signature spread!) and more importantly: two chapters in The Art of Lenormand Reading I am happy to see: several very good pages on the influence of the playing card inserts, and then there’s a whole section of combination meanings. If you’re just starting out with Lenormand the most difficult thing is to 1. see in one look if the reading is favourable [the court card section will help with that] and 2. how to bridge the cards into one sentence. Musruck makes that a lot simpler too by giving you 36 lists with card+ other card and what they could mean. Want to combine Clouds with Child? Check his list and see: Disillusionment right from the start or a confused child.
The Art of Lenormand reading holds no real Cloud & Child reading vibe as far as I am concerned, but there were a few things I did miss. And that actually came from reading the content list and then not seeing what I’d hoped to see. The spirituality chapter I expected to be a different kind of Lenormand wasn’t on readings with Lenormand from a personal growth point of view at all – something I would have loved reading since Lenormand is so very practical – but actually just a 2 pager with little paragraphs on 10 archangels to call on.
I understand this is something Musruck built part of his reading practice on and he personally believes any reader can call on the angels for help. But without a link to the system we’re actually learning about, the fact not everyone cares (or believes in) about working with angels and the possible ‘danger’ of Christian connotations (if you aren’t one) this chapter is useless in *my* opinion, and could very well rub other readers completely the wrong way.
The same goes for the chapter ‘Attune your Lenormand cards for divination’. It is one of those that present personal beliefs as facts. If you believe into invocation and the usefulness of prayer or the necessity of cleansing it might give you an alternative to your own ritual.
The Zodiac signs and planets were also a little miss. That does not come back anywhere, so why am I given this info? What can I do with that info then? The chapter title Reversals is completely unnecessary as well. For one second I was blown away: a teacher who does Rx in Lenormand? How? But no, it is just a warning that Lenormand isn’t Tarot – something he could’ve said in one sentence in the chapter that was meant for that “Language of Lenormand”.
Musruck is a representative of the French school and I think he did that school proud. He is someone that keeps it simple; no difficult wording, good explanations and a love for the European ‘analytical’ tradition. His extra additions are, unfortunately, not well explained or promise something and then don’t deliver. I am still not sure why I would need to see Archangels and Zodiac signs in a Lenormand book. Maybe it will be a great addition…but as long as that isn’t shown to me I would not know.
Musrucks has his own way of dealing with the cards, certainly when it comes to meanings or ‘special powers’, so as a beginner you need to make a conscious choice if he’s the right one to follow.
If The Art of Lenormand Reading offers enough to a proficient Lenormand reader? Meh…If he had built upon the extra’s provided or showed a completely new insight it might have been. I would otherwise recommend it solely to advanced readers if you are still struggling to ‘pick a side’ or if you like to read all the different perspectives and enjoy an author’s favourite personal spreads. In many ways, Musruck is more of the same, but just in different wording and with other examples. A good read, but no revelation. If The Queen’s Sword had to give The Art of Lenormand Reading a label it’d say “great foundation for Lenormand novices”.
There are plenty great study Lenormand books to start your journey with, but Musrucks The Art of Lenormand Reading definitely made a decent play to be counted among ‘Recommended for beginners’. Seeing as how difficult it is to get into the tight circle of praiseworthy Lenormand teachers I’d say that counts as a compliment.
* There are different ways of reading Lenormand. There is the German school, very close or even identical to the Dutch/Belgium one, the French (modern) and then a more American version -usually extremely popular on YouTube – which has a tendency to be more ‘symbolical’ (tarot-ish) than the more traditional routes. If you look at it closely the European schools are mostly identical in techniques. Logically: it is where Lenormand originated. Where they differ is which cards are chosen for work and sexuality, who is a romantic rival or how to check for same sex relationships. German/Dutch/Belgium, probably the most traditional historical way of reading (see also Bjorn Meuris’ books) chooses Anchor (the stability a career can give) for work, Lily for sexuality (going back to Greek myths) and Whip is discussions. In other schools Whip is sexuality and Lily old age for example. Pick your school or better said: pick your set of keywords and stick with it to prevent confusing readings.