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Today I am pairing the Snake with the Ship.

Snake is one of those tricky cards, because it means different thing to different people, and varies by tradition. Harking back to “traditional” (German and Spanish from my studies), this card is read primarily as a woman, or an indicator of intelligence. However, the French-based sources (including the English language works by John Dee and Sylvie Steinbach) see this card in a more negative sense: lies, backstabbing and treachery. This makes sense as the Lenormand cards with club suit inset tend to be negative. I believe the cards with poems inset warn of the person depicted by this card.

For me, Snake is a blend of these. In a Grand Tableau (the 36-card layout) I will first regard the Snake as a “generic” woman with no special attributes or traits. Her relationship to the questioner as well as her character would be indicated by surrounding cards and location in the spread. In a relationship reading, she could be “the other woman.” When I do a smaller reading such as the no-layout, then I consider the Snake as a detour of some sort — a winding road, literal or figurative — or perhaps a backstabber, if appropriate.

Without further ado:


Snake + Ship

Snake is a woman or a detour. Ship is a journey, trip or movement. This combination could be a detour in travel plans; or could represent escape from a certain woman. It could also represent a foreign woman, due to the Ship’s connotations of distance and “from afar.”


Ship + Snake

This could be traveling to meet a woman, or taking the long way around — which could be literal with physical travel, or it could be a figure of speech applied to an action where a person does things methodically and maybe redundantly, not taking any shortcuts.

At the risk of making things confusing, I think both pairs could be interpreted to mean a detour on a journey. The first pair emphasizes the detour, which would in this case occur during travel. I would see this as the unexpected detour caused by an accident blocking the road, for example; or if a cruise ship needed to re-route for unexpected repairs. The second example would be more of choosing to take a detour, and again, this is reminiscent of going the “long way around.” For example, taking a road trip and deciding that a side trip to stay overnight in an area known for wineries would be fun.

Normally I wouldn’t read the same meaning in both pairs of cards, but I think it fits in this case, keeping in mind the emphasis (or theme card) for the pairs. Again, context in a reading is going to be the ultimate arbiter.

Agree? Disagree? Want to share your own take on this combination? Please post a comment if so.

I had a rather disconcerting moment while doing some readings tonight. I wanted to get in some Lenormand reading practice and thought to do some practical readings about the move. I first did a couple of quick readings about two homes that my partner and I are interested in looking at, using the “No-Layout” spread as described by Sylvie Steinbach in her book Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle*. In one of these readings, which consisted of a string of five cards, the first card was the Mountain and the second card was the House. This immediately suggested some upfront delays or obstacles involved with at least one property. Coming as the first two cards in the spread, this was a pretty strong message.

I then wanted to practice the Grand Tableau, the full 36-card layout. (I use the 9×4 layout for this.) I was using the pattern techniques, the first of which I did was to use the system of houses. For those unfamiliar, this means looking at the “house” or position that represents the subject of interest, and seeing what card is in that position. Not unlike an astrological house, except there are 36, one for each card. Then this card is chained by checking it’s house, to see what card is there; and so on. It sounds convoluted but isn’t once you’ve done it or seen an example.

The first house I wanted to look at was position #4, house of the House; as expected, this is where to look for situations involving a home or real estate. Imagine my surprise (and if I’m honest, a little bit of dismay) to see that this position was occupied by the Mountain! Once again, a blockage related to the House.

I’ll have to see what happens. I’m still fairly new to this, so my interpretations have more room for error. But two readings with the Mountain affecting the House… time will tell!

* Ms. Steinbach’s reading techniques have their share of fans and detractors alike. I stick closer to the German tradition for card meanings, but I feel the No-Layout technique is a helpful tool in the Lenormand reader’s arsenal.


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