Published On: Fri, May 13th, 2022

The Historical Importance of Fortune-Telling & Horoscope

History of Fortune Telling

Marie Anne Lenormand, who was 14 at the time, ran away from her convent school where she had been raised in 1786. Lenormand went to Paris all alone and there she learned how to use a deck of cards to tell the future.

She was a cartomancer and fortune-teller for 40 years. During that time, she told Napoleon’s wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais, Robespierre, Marat, & a few more important people about their futures.

 44 years old Lenormand, thirty years later, met a young Frances, Lady Shelley. She was an aristocrat, socialite, and a friend of the Duke of Wellington. Both of them met in Lenormand’s luxurious boudoir. But Shelley wrote in a diary that she was soon drawn into Lenormand’s cabinet d’étude to have her fortune told.

Lenormand asked about the initial letter of her name, her birthday, the first letter of the place where she was born, and her favorite animal, number, and color. Shelley wrote, “After about 15 minutes of this mumbling, during which she put all the cards in a specific order on the table, she looked inside my head.”

“Suddenly, in a kind of measured prose, and with great speed and clear articulation, she began to describe my personality and past life. She was so accurate and successful, down to the smallest details, that I was amazed at how she knew everything she did.

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What made Lenormand rich in France in the 18th century, and what has kept fortune-telling and games of probability or chance popular for more than 6,000 years, is that sometimes the prediction made by a fortune-teller is exactly right.

Sometimes events exactly happen as they were predicted, sometimes our lottery ticket is the winner, and sometimes we beat the negativity in our life. Chance games lead us to the right answer just often enough to keep us interested.

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In doing so, they’ve become social and political tools that play on some of our deepest hopes, like that we’ll get a “big break” or that the poor can get rich quickly. Napoleon once said, “Ability isn’t worth much if you don’t have a chance.”

When Lenormand died at age 71, her devoutly Catholic nephew got all of her belongings and a lot of money, which was worth about 500,000 francs.

Michael Dummett, a former logic professor at Oxford who co-wrote a book on the subject, says that he took the money and burned all of her cards, crystals, and other items used for fortune-telling.

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But Lenormand’s legacy lives on, especially through Lenormand cards, which are a set of altered tarot cards that are often used by modern fortune-tellers.