The Golden Lenormand Oracle is the newest Lenormand deck by Lo Scarabeo. The Italian publisher is known for not only daring to be original, putting multiple languages on tarot decks and LWB’s, but also for their golden layered deluxe decks. This Lenormand is exactly one of those luxurious sets and could best be described as a beautified rendition of LS’s 2013 Lenormand Oracle. (also: a mini shout-out to Andrea Chiarvesio. This review is basically the last one linked to our great collaboration. You’ll be missed!)
The Golden Lenormand Oracle deck comes in a very sturdy, red lift lid top box and offers an equally large paperback companion and deck in foil. The companion, written by Lunaea Weatherstone, gives information in – yup -several languages and unlike the very simple LWB’s, shows card combinations with every Lenormand card, a few spreads and reading tips. If the deck happens to be your first Lenormand it means you can jump right in without the need to buy the big study books immediately. The meanings used are pretty standard and fitted my own style & techniques – which is German/Dutch, the traditional way of reading.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the reading tips in its little companion seem on the traditional side, since the Golden Lenormand Oracle is based on a multitude of historical decks. At first sight I picked out the muted colours of a Dondorf Pattern and something close to Blue Owl Lenormand. A check in the foreword confirmed: Pietro Alligo combined a gaming deck (the inserts) and a Lenormand deck, both -they say – from the stall of Dondorf to create the Golden Lenormand (TQS: though the images aren’t consistent with a Dondorf Lenormand, but with the Blue Owl). It explains why it has such a traditionalist feel and why the deck has such large playing card inserts and numbers on either side.
In this case the gold in the Golden Lenormand Oracle is not like the Nefertari Tarot where you see one thick layer on each card, but more of a sprinkle. Most cards get their dotted gold on the top half, others go a bit further. -it is as if you’ve gotten a combination of a Lenormand symbol and the idea of an impressionist painting. Each golden-symbol duo is set against a cream, slightly glossy, but muted background. They aren’t stark white with clear symbols. No, while the symbols remain very clear and easily recognisable – as is usually the case with decks from that time – the art has more of a dreamy quality to. Forget about strong lines and bold colours; the Golden Lenormand Oracle offers a soft palette. It is obviously based on 19th century decks.
You could say the gold is the one thing that isn’t very typical for traditional decks and this way you can have your cake and eat it too: historical Lenormand + something extra. I had to get used to it with most of the cards, but for some of the cards (like the Sun and Star) it immediately felt like a strangely fitting addition.
Non-typical & usability
But it isn’t the only thing non-typical. And this non-typical thing is the ‘worst’ bit of the Lenormand Oracle as I have it before me. Is it the stock? Well, after having worked with a linen variety these last few months the LS stock feels extra thin, but compared to most Lenormand decks it is actually quite the common paper quality, so no shocker there. Riffle shuffle is easy to do, but I was noticing a slight curve in the deck after three riffle shuffles, so returned to my standard vertical overhand (small hands).
I am referring to its usability. There is no issue reading any of the cards. Like I said: symbols are clear and those golden flecks hardly make a difference – if anything they sometimes make the deck stand out more. Where the Golden Lenormand fails us Lenormand readers is in its size. It’s enormous. Say about twice the size of a regular Lenormand. Sure, you’ll have huge symbols so won’t ever mistake the Storks for Birds or Fox with Dog (as if you would otherwise), but unless you have an entire dining room table to use for readings, the Golden Lenormand Oracle will disappoint quite a bit on the Grand Tableau front…only just about the most important spread there is for 36-card systems.
I am so surprised about this choice. Where some newer decks create too busy art, too dark backgrounds or confusing adaptations ( F.e. a woman with a bouquet and a bouquet next to a woman…which card am I seeing?) printing on such big stock is also not very reader-friendly. This means that the Golden Lenormand Oracle will either never be used to read, it will become a collector’s item or a study deck, or only for lines of 3-4 and perhaps a box (3×3 cards).
I found those lines easy to read, especially due to its size ( though I have heard cartomancy readers complain that larger cards in general are *always* getting in the way. Even with small readings), but the box (3×3 is almost taking up the space for 2/3 GT). If you use the inserts, those bigger cards will be a plus in some cases. You have good eyes on both the insert and the Lenormand symbol in your readings. In all other cases a lack of overview is the issue, even if you do have the room to lay out such a huge GT and work with a sitter on top of that. It makes this deck only usable for the smaller spreads and I can’t imagine that was ever the goal, even though it could count as a collector’s item with its impressionist gold.
As always it is ‘reader’s choice’. I am just afraid that the combination of all these factors really makes the Golden Lenormand Oracle a deck that will get less attention than it deserves if it comes down to the look. It is pretty much a Dondorf deck and if you like historical decks, LS just provided you one with a pretty bling-bling addition, worthy of these older makers. Knowing what I know now I might still have bought it, but that is because I am also a collector and well…it does look like a gem (pun intended) when reading with it.
It’s ideal for studying or showcasing Lenormand, but at one point the GT comes into play. With its size that is an opportunity lost. Where other designers even offer mini-decks to make sure a Grand Tableau can be laid down in even the tiniest work-spaces, the choice for such a large card is incomprehensible. The Golden Lenormand Oracle caught my eye due to its sparkles, but its lack in user friendliness does make the deck lose part of its shine.