I always think of the Whip as being a whip due to its name. It’s been described as a whip and a broom. However, I know it’s also been called the Birch; this presumably refers to the birchrod and the practice of birching.

According to Wikipedia:

Birching is a corporal punishment with a birch rod, typically applied to the recipient’s bare buttocks, although occasionally to the back and/or shoulders.

A birch rod (often shortened to “birch”) is a bundle of leafless twigs bound together to form an implement for flagellation.

This would seem more appropriate to the depiction of the “whip” on some Lenormand cards, such as the French Cartomancy pictured here, which is based on the Dondorf pattern.

Birching was also used, according to this article, during the French Revolution which may have inspired its use in these cards:

Birching featured in the French Revolution. One leader of the revolution, Anne Josephe Theroigne de Mericourt, went mad, ending her days in an asylum after a public birching.

So this card depicts a tool of punishment and an instrument used in times of strife, but not a weapon. It deals pain and suffering, was used where punishment was needed, but there were not injuries as a bladed weapon (such as the Scythe). This seems to tie into the traditional meanings of harshness and harsh words, with conflict and argument. Admittedly this less obviously related to the concept of punishment that is the core purpose of the birchrod, but it’s close enough for me to work with the card and its meaning.

Of course there is always this depiction from the Bärtschi Lenormand:


It puts me in mind of the French tradtion, where phsycial activity and by implication sexuality is attached to the Whip. But that’s a post for another day.