QUEEN OF CARDS: Mademoiselle Lenormand

The most world renowned fortune teller of all time is, without a doubt, Marie Lenormand. Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand was born to Jean Louis Antoine Lenormand and Marie Anne Gilbert on May 27, 1772 in Normandy, France. Orphaned from her wealthy family as a very young child, Lenormand was sent to Royal Abbey of Benedictines where she began to manifest a growing psychic ability. Predicting dismissals and arrivals of clergy, she soon became known as the child “oracle” of the abbey.

It has been noted that she was rather rebellious from a young age. She insisted on only reading books on divination and the supernatural. She studied shamans, healers, and mystics from cultures all across the globe, some say mastering the art of divination by the age of 12. Before even becoming a teenager, she was reading numerology, astrology, dreams, and even divining with the most obscure forms of divination. She was reading everything from coffee grounds to egg whites.

After all her studies, she found fault in most divination practices and only truly believed a few forms to be authentic, such as astrology, palm reading, and face reading – also know as physiognomy, a popular form of divination in many asian cultures. She didn’t even find tarot reading to be credible in that time period due to the interpretations being used, and took to reading with playing cards, from which today’s “Lenormand decks” are based.

Lenormand’s career really took off at the age of 17 when she made a prediction that King Louis XVI’s reign was coming to an end and with it – much of the church’s power. She lived as a strong, independent woman during one of the toughest and most gruesome times in France’s history – the French Revolution. Many believe she navigated this time period with ease and even thrived in it due to her abilities as a fortune teller. Around the age of 20, she opened up a fortune telling shop in Paris, but getting an appointment was hard as everything had to be in a sort of secrecy, as it was not a legal profession at the time. Because of this, interest seemed to grow and she soon garnered the title “Sybil of the Salons.”

Predicting the rise and demise of kings, popular artists, and members of high society, Lenormand sealed her place in history as a true renegade of the revolution. She was even briefly imprisoned for twice trying to free Marie Antoinette from prison! I mean seriously, yall. She was one tough broad!!! She did horoscopes for fellow prisoners and for her clients outside of prison by messenger – one in particular in which she predicted Josephine de Beauharnais engagement to, then little known, Napoleon Bonaparte. Throughout the years, Bonaparte consulted with Lenormand on various matters. She even predicted his success and death in exile through a palm reading.

Marie Lenormand was also a prolific writer of her time, garnering many favorable testimonials from society’s elite. By the time of her death she had written over 15 books, starting with memoirs entitled Les Souvenirs Prophetiques. Lenormand died on June 25, 1843 in Paris with a massive fortune of 500,000 Francs. Unfortunately, no real artifacts from her history have been recovered as her only living relative was a Catholic nephew who burned all of her belongings, due to her association with the occult. He did, however, keep the entirety of her money.

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