Monday, March 17, 2014

Book review: "The Essential Lenormand" by Rana George


The Essential Lenormand: Your Guide to Precise & Practical Fortunetelling
by Rana George (Llewellyn Publications, 2014; 408 pages)
ISBN-13: 978-0-7387-3662-4

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Years from now, when I recall how I finally took a chance on Lenormand divination after long skirting around this trend, I will give all credit to The Essential Lenormand by Rana George. And just as I've pushed Mary K. Greer's Tarot for Your Self on every single one of my Tarot students over the years, I know I'll happily sing the praises of George's guide to Lenormand. Published this month by Llewellyn, her book is that good.

Born in Beirut, Rana George hails from a family noted for its lineage of psychics and mediums. In 1988, during the turmoil of Lebanon's civil war, after suffering devastating losses, George and her family fled to safety in the US. She now resides in Texas. Over a career of thirty years, she has become respected and cherished leader in an international community devoted to Tarot and other oracles of divination. But while most of us have come to Lenormand late in the day, it has always been home for her. She started her extensive practice in cartomancy as a gifted teen with these 36 iconic images named for France's famed fortuneteller, Mlle Marie Adelaide Lenormand.

Unlike the complex, sometimes esoteric Tarot, Lenormand presents simplified, straightforward images that anyone can grasp--a cross, a dog, a ship, a book, a key--associated with a handful of direct, often literal meanings. This accessibility accounts for much of the welcoming charm of Lenormand; many readers and querents find this a non-intimidating tool that cuts to the chase, especially for practical issues around money, relationships and the like.

George quips that Lenormand will help you "to find out if X is sleeping with Y and if the sex is good." That's a funny line, but what I'm learning from reading her guide and checking out Lenormand groups on Facebook, is that Lenormand's reach can be pretty far and wide--tackling everything from "Should I take that job offer?" to--yes, inevitably--"What really happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370?"

Lenormand-ers are not afraid to go there. And, yes, they go predictive. No shame in their game.

Comprehensive in scope, The Essential Lenormand will take you through a detailed, systematic exploration of each of the 36 images. Three features are, for me, the most impressive and effective of George's teaching methods.

  1. For each card, she lists specific meanings as they relate to a slate of topics such as love, health and money and questions of timing.
  2. For each card, she relates an illustrative anecdote from her history of reading with the Lenormand.
  3. In addition, she demonstrates how this specific card works within a Grand Tableau ("the big picture"), the massive layout that employs all 36 cards and offers a powerful 360° perspective on the querent's situation.
George is a past master of the Grand Tableau, and a healthy chunk of the book is given over to its presentation and analysis. For Tarot folks who relish the puzzle-like complexity, sublime flexibility and potential surprise in any Tarot reading--and I'm certainly one of those--the Grand Tableau beckons. But any eager reader will find, here, a range of manageable layouts upon which to practice--like the modest but still tasty nine-card layout.

You will learn how to select a Lenormand deck that's right for you from the many varieties and styles; develop a daily practice with the cards; work with significators; integrate Lenormand with astrological patterns or with Tarot, if that is your wish; and understand the connection between Lenormand imagery and the suits and figures of regular playing cards. Readers with classic clairvoyance training should take to Lenormand quite easily, as the images--The Heart, The Ring, The Bouquet and others--have a similar function to those conjured by the inner eye in clairvoyance. It is as if those psychic visions, which bring messages, have been captured and preserved on card stock.

As for me, I have fallen in love, and I now await delivery of a Lenormand deck of my very own--the Mystical Lenormand

Thank you, Rana George!

Learn more about The Essential Lenormand here.

Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Book review: "The Indie Spiritualist" by Chris Grosso

Indie Spiritualist Cover

The Indie Spiritualist: a no bullshit exploration of spirituality
by Chris Grosso (Atria Books/Beyond Words, 2014; 272 pages)
ISBN-13: 978-1582704623

reviewed by Eva Yaa Asantewaa, hummingwitch

Chris Grosso says he is more than a little turned off by the lightweight, reality-skimming, and commercial nature of what passes for spirituality these days. That and anything smacking of religious dogma. A punk/heavy metal musician by trade, he'll readily tell you that an Eddie Van Halen guitar solo can transport him to samadhi (consciousness of utter oneness with the object of devotion) where yoga postures leave him wondering what all the fuss is about.

Grosso's book relates his personal story of drug addiction, cutting, suicide attempts and eventual spiritual healing. He aims to inspire individuality of mind and non-comformity in his readers--to thine own self be true, y'all--while, with no sign of irony, teaching the doctrine of non-duality, that unity of all beings underlies all appearances to the contrary. About that last bit, I chose to ignore his remarks about Adolf Hitler and Justin Bieber--yes, in the same breath and more than once--and simply move on. Some abstract metaphysical concepts just go over better without being fleshed out.

Grosso, with the admirable honesty of an addict working his recovery, makes frequent mention of insecurity about his abilities as a writer. Each reader will likely respond to his presentation in different and personal ways. The upside: a straightforward, conversational tone that some readers will identify with and find accessible and convincing. The book, as its subtitle warns you, is also spiced with profanity for which Grosso makes no apology. His writing reflects his milieu; younger readers, in particular, can relate to that and to his unorthodox cultural references. The downside: a lack of any distinctive style to the writing and--again, ironically--a reliance on familiar ideas and the counsel of well-known guides and gurus. The Indie Spiritualist too often reads like an earnest, extended 12 Step share with a few promising but ultimately "you-had-to-be-there" anecdotes.

The Buddhist Noah Levine's Dharma Punx, published in 2004, related a nearly identical, gritty arc of life and unconventional awakening as well as similar musical preference, piercings and tattoos. This no longer seems jarring. Levine--who contributed the foreword to The Indie Spiritualist--got there first and with flair.

After a half-century of similar Eastern-inspired teachings in the West, we surely know the drill: The spiritual journey leads through mindful, if painful, experience to compassion and kindness towards self and others. As part of this influential lineage, Grosso claims the right to have his say, and perhaps this manual will prove to be right for you or someone you know.

The Indie Spiritualist: a no bullshit exploration of spirituality goes on sale on March 4. Get more information about it here.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Announcing a new Image and Psyche workshop on Tarot! March 29

images from The Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans


a new workshop on Tarot

Image and Psyche: 

To Spread or Not to Spread?

Saturday, March 29 (12:30-4pm)
downtown Brooklyn, NYC

facilitated by 

Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Eva Yaa Asantewaa (photo by D. Feller)
Tapping the power of Tarot layouts. Cool spreads. Hot Spreads. Simple or complex spreads. Many cards, few cards, even no cards at all!

Learn how to do effective readings with your divination deck in formal or more creative contexts.

We'll look at traditional and contemporary layouts and experiment with making new ones up as we go along.

Open to Tarot fans with at least basic familiarity with the conventional structure of a Tarot deck (Major and Minor Arcana, the elemental suits and the Court figures). Bring a deck, your note-taking gear and your curiosity.

Location: Downtown Brooklyn near many subway lines. For address, please pre-register.

Our location is wheelchair accessible.

Allergen alert: Two cats on premises

Admission: $35 by pre-registration (deadline March 19) via Chase QuickPay at

For further information, contact me through my Contact Form at

NOTE: This workshop will be repeated on Saturday, April 12. Same time, different location (tbd). If you're not available for March 29, please let me know if you would like to join us on April 12. Also, students who have attended on March 29 and wish to repeat the workshop for additional practice can get $10 off the registration fee for April 12.

Please feel free to pass this information along to your friends.


Eva Yaa Asantewaa