Friday, August 9, 2013

This picture of hope

[This post was first published on 14 June 2012.]

Das Spiel der Hoffnung (Game of Hope), the prototype for the Petit Lenormand deck first published c1799, derives its name from the penultimate card in the deck which contains a picture of an anchor:

"35. Dieses ist das wichtigste Blatt des ganzen Spiels, indem derjenige, so auf dieses Bild der Hofnung zu stehen kommt, das ganze Spiel gewonnen hat, und die ganze Kasse oder Einlage zieht."
(35. This is the most important card of the entire game, in that the one, who lands on this picture of hope, has won the entire game, and takes the entire pot or stakes.)

The original game instructions preserved in the British Museum do not contain explicit divination meanings for each card.

Wahrsagen à la Lenormand by Alexander Glück, published by Verlag für die Frau in 2011, is a new limited edition reproduction of a deck dated c1850 from the collection of the late antiquarian Erwin Kohlmann from Naumann. A previous edition of the reproduction was published by Verlag für die Frau in 1982 and is displayed online in the Lenormand Museum here. The German explanation that accompanies the deck appears to be identical to the extract shown with the Petit Lenormand deck dated 1846 in the Lenormand Museum here (see also my related post, Lenormand: A new identity), suggesting that it may contain the original Petit Lenormand divination meanings. The divination meaning provided for card number 35 is set out below:

"35. Anker, ist das Zeichen eines glücklichen Unternehmens auf der See, und grosser Vorteil im Handel und einer treuen Liebe, aber entfernt bedeutet es gänzliche Täuschung in Ideen, und die Liebe wird zum Schmetterling."
(35. Anchor, is the sign of a happy enterprise at sea, and of a big advantage in commerce and of a faithful love, but in the distance it indicates an error of judgement and love becomes a butterfly.)

[Images of the Lenormand Anchor card: Wahrsagen à la Lenormand created by Alexander Glück and published by Verlag für die Frau (above left) and Mystical Lenormand created by Regula Elizabeth Fiechter and Urban Trösch and published by AGM and US Games (below right).]

In The Secrets of the Lenormand Oracle (2007), Sylvie Steinbach writes among other things:

"The anchor is an encouraging card to see as it tells you to continue on the path you are on. You will eventually reach your goals."

Some other Lenormand authors, including Iris Treppner and Regula Elizabeth Fiechter, associate the Anchor card with work:

"35 Anchor
This card stands for work, job, training and stability. If you have questions regarding your work and your job, look at the cards around it."
Mystical Lenormand (2005),
Regula Elizabeth Fiechter

The anchor as a symbol of hope is also found in several other European cartomancy decks. [Pictured below, from left to right, are cards from: Vera Sibilla Italiana (Every Day Oracle) published by Lo Scarabeo, Original Kipper Wahrsagekarten published by AGMüller Urania and Zigeuner Wahrsagekarten (Gipsy Fortune Telling Cards) No 1901 published by Piatnik.]

The word anchor is derived from the Latin word ancora. The Italian word ancora means "anchor" in the noun sense and "still", "again" or "more" in the adverb sense.

Apart from its nautical and navigational associations (stability, safeguard from shipwreck and safe harbour), the anchor was adopted as an early symbol of the Christian faith as a disguised cross and a symbol of hope of eternal life. The symbol is found in the ancient Catacombs of Rome where persecuted Christians were buried before Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380.

"The anchor, because of the great importance in navigation, was regarded in ancient times as a symbol of safety. The Christians, therefore, in adopting the anchor as a symbol of hope in future existence, merely gave a new and higher signification to a familiar emblem. In the teachings of Christianity the virtue of hope occupies a place of great importance; Christ is the unfailing hope of all who believe in Him. St. Peter, St. Paul, and several of the early Fathers speak in this sense, but the Epistle to the Hebrews for the first time connects the idea of hope with the symbol of the anchor. The writers says that we have 'Hope' set before us 'as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm' (Hebrews 6:19-20). The hope here spoken of is obviously not concerned with earthly, but with heavenly things, and the anchor as a Christian symbol, consequently, relates only to the hope of salvation. It ranks among the most ancient of Christian symbols."
The Anchor (as Symbol), The Catholic Encyclopedia, Maurice Hassett

(Incidentally I believe that, regardless of one's religious beliefs, it is helpful to have some understanding of the Christian symbolism prevalent in European cartomancy decks. For example, interpreting the Lenormand Cross as a different sort of cross could negate the traditional symbolic meanings of burden, suffering and sacrifice which anyone can relate to.)

I had not associated the Anchor card directly with hope in my Lenormand dictionary before, only Clover and Stars as a result of their key symbolic meanings of optimism and guidance respectively. I consider Anchor to be primarily a card of stability, perseverance and ultimate success which is nevertheless a favourable and encouraging interpretation. The phrase "slowly but surely" comes to mind.