From time to time, I come across a deck I want to rub myself against, American Beauty style. This is the case for The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand. A delightful deck full of victorian allure. Classy, beautiful and unique. A must-have for Lenormand collectors.
As it usually happens with the decks I adore, I couldn’t miss the chance to interview its creator; Melanie Clarke, also known as The Cartomancy Witch.
Keep an eye on this very promising author, for The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand is likely to have some siblings pretty soon, and after you see it, you will not want to miss it!
Interviewing Melanie Clarke, author of The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand.
Q. – What inspired you to create The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand?
M.C. – My initial inspiration for the Gaslight was the desire to design a deck for myself. I’d go into the Lenormand system and quickly fell in love with it, I’d read tarot for many years but discovering the Lenormand started a love for the history of cartomancy itself and all of these other systems I didn’t know about. I wanted to design a deck for myself that would take the aspects and symbolism of the decks I was using and make it my ideal reading tool, it was never anything more than a personal project at first. Design wise the inspiration had to be Victorian, I became enamoured with the idea of ladies sat in a parlour taking tea and reading each other’s fortunes with the cards of Mlle Lenormand. I wrote a short prose when I started to design the deck to set the mood for myself, which I later posted on my blog just before release.
Q. – Do you have prior experience with Lenormand as a reader or user?
M.C. – I have experience as a reader, I saw a Lenormand system on a card reading group I’d joined on Facebook and was instantly interested in knowing more. I ordered a deck online and I was so excited for it to arrive, the new style or reading was something I really got my teeth in to as I didn’t realise how different it would be to tarot at first, but I enjoyed the challenge of completely changing my perception of reading.
Q. – Are you more on the side of tradition or innovation when it comes to Lenormand?
M.C. – I’d have to say both, if that’s possible. In terms of imagery, I love tradition and I’m very much a history geek wanting to know as much as I can about the history of Lenormand and honouring it. I did realise however when looking at this and other oracles such as the Livre du Destin and the Kipper, these systems were very much reflective of the zeitgeist of the societies who produced them. Even though we can still relate to the basic meanings the cards convey we need to adapt the meanings the fit our modern lives so I believe honouring their roots but taking them with us is important. I’ve seen readers use stars as meanings internet and being online for instance, I haven’t but its a good example of adaptation. I personally feel also that things build up over time, when spreads and meanings are repeated through the ages their power builds as they pass to us so when we read we’re tapping into all that’s gone before, that’s probably my pagan outlook there!
Q. – Why did you decide on such a small run of decks?
M.C. – Again it was only intended to be a print for myself, but when I thought about it when I was close to finishing, I decided I might get extra printed. I wasn’t really very confident that many people would connect with it the way I did as I’d designed it very much with my ideas in mind so I didn’t want to print hundreds and they not find new homes. I decided 20 was a nice small number to print and that I’d hand number them to make them feel a lot more personal and special to anyone who wanted one. They did get a lot more interest than I imagined, but I don’t regret only printing 20 as it still feels special there only being so few out there. It wasn’t intended to be a business venture, more a labour of love. I’m just so glad there were people who connected with my vision.
Q. – How was the creation process of The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand?
M.C. – It was fun but as I’ve found now I’ve started other deck designs, there always seems to be a few cards that you pain over. Finding a way of communicating how you see the meaning of that card in a simple way that can be read easily in a reading. In the end it was a snap decision to send them to print, there was only so long I could analyse the cards so I sent them off and I’m glad I did. It was so much fun in the end though and so exciting receiving them that I’ve got the bug now for sure.
Q. – Up to date, what has been your biggest challenge for the creation of the deck?
M.C. – I think the biggest difficulties came at first, what to include on the cards in terms of titles, numbers, playing card correspondences. Once I’d decided on what I felt I wanted on there, it went a lot smoother and I could just spend time reflecting on what I wanted each card to say. Once I’d received them printed I was very excited, but then the biggest challenge for me personally came when I started to put the deck out there. I was in love with them, but would everyone else appreciate what I’d try to do? When I’d received your feedback from your video review it gave me a lot of insight and as I’d decided to create more decks, it helped me think a lot more about what others need from a deck, being able to use them in Grand Tableaus etc. This has added a few more points to consider with my next decks, so this will take longer as I have more points to cover.
Q. – Finding a deck that portrays a woman as The Rider is rather uncommon. Was this intentional?
M.C. – Yes, it was intentional and I wanted it to be different to tradition in that way. That’s an example of how I want to mix tradition with a modern twist. Of course, horses were part of everyday life in Victorian times but bicycles were something quite innovative at the time and I loved the idea of this card opening the deck in a playful way with something you can identify but isn’t what you really expect. I wouldn’t want the deck to alienate anyone but at the same time I wanted it to reflect me, I wanted a feminine feel but strong imagery. I like to think this rider is a woman who goes against the grain.
Q. – The Fortune Teller has me quite intrigued. What can you tell us about this card?
M.C. – I have a deck that had this as an extra card. I found it interesting, I liked the idea of having this to read in new ways. I either used it to represent myself if I did a spread as I found it a little more objective for some reason. My favourite way to use it however was as a sort of joker card that I would sometimes shuffle into larger spreads for certain topics, then if it came out in the read it would indicate that I should focus more on that area or pull more cards to clarify something deeper in that area. I didn’t talk about this in my index cards and upon reflection, I should have given at least some ideas, but I hope that people will play with the card and maybe find new ways to use it themselves and have some fun.
Q. – What kind of projects can we expect in the future?
M.C. – I have two decks almost completed, just wrestling with the last few card changes, and several sheets of paper stuck all over my wall with scribbles and lists for many others. My mind has gone a little frantic in a way now I’ve enjoyed the Gaslight Parlour so much. I will be sticking to short run decks however because I’ve got a lot of ideas and I prefer the idea of there just being a few of each, maybe I’d go up to 30 or 50, though 20 felt like a nice number. I have to say they are all traditionally themed though, one deck goes back a lot further than Victorian times but this is just my deep interest in history showing. I think as Lenormand becomes more popular, the interpretations will start to stray a little more from the norm as tarot has over time, becoming more like oracles. I love the idea of creating an oracle from scratch with whatever cards titles I like, but that’s a massive task and I don’t yet have the experience. It’s an ultimate goal though!
Q. – Which is your favorite card of The Gaslight Parlour Lenormand, or the one that you are the fondest of?
M.C. – The rider I think has to be a favourite because it’s very much a different take from the usual male on a horse, it’s a great introduction when you first open the deck and it makes me smile! I really like the heart too, I decided to go for the anatomical rather than traditional heart as thinking about the Victorian era, it was very much interested in scientific innovation and I wanted to reflect somewhere what great advancements were made in many ways. It was again something that people wouldn’t expect with what are generally quite feminine cards. Maybe the rider is at medical school, the first woman ever, who knows?
I don’t know about you, but certainly, I cannot wait to see more! If you want to check closely on her work, here are a few ways to do so!
Melanie Clarke’s IG handle: @wintermeudwy
Melanie Clarke’s blog: https://cartomancywitch.wordpress.com/
Do you want to see the deck more in depth? Check my review on YouTube.