Oh happy day, joyful day when a new Melissa deck arrives. I so nearly didn’t order the 2nd edition of the Melissa Lenormand as I have (and love and use) my two copies of the 1st edition so much that I really didn’t think I needed another one (or two). There were alterations, but they seemed to me minor and didn’t seem to warrant the expense of another copy. Plus, I have to admit, I was unsure about the new typeface (the 1st edition typeface was more cursive) and the addition of numbers on the cards. They are already charmingly cluttered, I didn’t feel the need for more information. Then there are the backs; I love the brown backs of the 1st edition – a kind of “grandmother’s-dressing-table-drawer-liner” brown – while the new edition has a kind of turquoise brocaded wallpaper cardback, which I liked ever so slightly less. Plus my favourite ever Male significator card, the squatting swimmer, wasn’t due to be included in the 2nd edition. Then on the last day, I relented – hours before Melissa took the offer down from her site – thinking that if I truly love the deck (and I do) then I shall love it in all its incarnations. I was not wrong. The postman delivered them earlier this week in their little copper tins, trussed up with parcel string. They were brought to me as I sat up in bed – the kind of cards that should be brought in on a butler’s silver salver or page-boy’s crimson velvet cushion. Such a treat to open; it’s always a magical moment to hold a new Melissa deck in your hands.
Why do I love the Melissa Lenormand so much? Probably because it is created with so much love and delicate artistry. It’s the sense of love that beams through above all else. I have already said I like my Lenomand cards sparse and minimalist but I cannot resist the layers on this one, the superimposed papers, love letters, luggage labels, engravings, kaleidoscopic layers of nostalgia and the allure of old time romance. That’s it, I think in a nutshell; this is the most romantic Lenormand out there; romantic without being soppy, romantic with verve and the spirit of elegance past. See how beautiful the new significator cards are, the kohl eyed Lady in her floppy hat and the handsome Gentleman with his overcoat, bowler hat and gently-clenched gloved fist (I’m intrigued by the stylised hand pointing upwards; must reflect more on that. Male ambition? Ever onwards and upwards? The accompanying leaflet refers to “outward focusing power” which seems appropriate for the symbol).
Extra cards in this edition include the two new Significator cards and a Joker (number 37) with a sandwich board proclaiming not that the end of the world is nigh but that the Melissa Lenormand cards are “the best fortune cards ever invented” and that they have “won favour everywhere” (very true from where I’m standing). There is also a Sibyl card (number 38) which I think I shall keep with the deck, to turn over onto the uppermost card before putting the deck away, a card to “seal” the deck, rather like the blank blue card that comes with the Oracle Belline. It’s a beautiful card but I prefer not to mix Lenormand with implications of Sibilla. Not yet anyway. What I also notice in this edition is that the cards seem ever so slightly darker than the 1st edition deck and that the borders are a subtle off-white colour, whereas the borders in the 1st edition are very definitely white. I love this deck so unreservedly that I cannot say that any one edition wins out slightly over the other. Both have their charm and the differences are so slight and the art style so distinct that it is a deck which you love – or not – regardless of the tweaking. Even if there is a third edition it will also be beautiful with whatever changes end up being made. Of this I am certain.
One observation I do have though (not a criticism!) is the direction in which the significator cards look. What I have loved about the Melissa Lenormand from the very beginning is the ease with which it can be used for same sex readings. When I am reading with the more traditional Lenormand decks I use the gallant horseman as a second male significator card, and I think The Lillie can be used to represent female sexuality, a 2nd female significator card. However, the Melissa permits us to use two proper significators of the same sex, which could, it goes without saying, also be used to read on issues between friends. In the 1st edition, one of the figures on the male significator, the one in the overcoat and trilby, faces left. In the 2nd edition, both male significators face outwards at the viewer, hence not so easy to read on issues regarding interaction between men. Also true of the female significators. They will never have their backs to each other, they will never be facing one another. A small observation but which makes a tiny difference to me when reading. Everything else about the deck is perfect; the size, the colouring, the quality of the cardstock, the imagery, the general, harmonious look of the cards when laid out together (very important with Lenormands when very often all cards are laid out). The deck also comes with some nicely concise divinatory suggestions on a folded piece of paper, which I think encapsulate meaning well, e.g “15, Bear (Business, self-empowerment, career) strength, strong words, powerful spirit, overwhelmed.” May there be many more incarnations of the Melissa Lenormand to come, may it be tweaked to all eternity. I shall love and buy each and every one.