|Lenormand n° 8 - The Coffin|
(Nine of Diamonds)
General Meanings: Ending/End of something, Imbalance, Quick deterioration, Illness, Decay
Other associations: Fear, Boxes, Bad habits
Speed: Neutral, becoming quick with cards of quick change (e.g. Scythe), slow especially with cards highlighting mental or spiritual problems
GENERAL MEANINGS: Here's the Death card of the Lenormand deck. If you take the time to study more than one deck, you will find that every single one of them has at least one archetype of the grand finale: the Five of Spades in the Sibilla; the Ace and Five of Spades in regular playing cards; the Death card and the Five of Swords in Tarot; the "Ein Todesfall" card in the Kipper cards, and so on.
They all carry much of the same significance. The Coffin in the Lenormand associated mainly with the ideas of ending and imbalance. The Coffin isn't necessarily a card of abrupt ending, but it is by far more devastating than the Scythe.
When the Coffin + Scythe combination comes after a sequence, it negates it in absolute terms. "Will we get back together?": Birds + Coffin + Scythe, not even if you were the last man standing. Of course, this isn't always the last word, and subsequent cards may contradict it, but this is rare.
In addition, this is one of the possible combinations of accident. So, for instance, with Coffin + Ship + Scythe we would definitely advise the querent not to go on that trip. Do keep any inclination to write soap opera on a short leash: unless the context makes this interpretation meaningful, or unless even more cards confirm it, chances are this combo means something else.
The main function of this card is to show that whatever comes before it is going to end. Bear + Coffin may be the loss of a job; Heart + Coffin could mean the end of a love relationship, or at least the end of love; Letter + Anchor + Coffin may show the end of a contract.
By itself, obviously enough, the presence of this card is not enough to predict physical death, or one might suspect that we card readers constantly kill our querents every time we cast a Grand Tableau. A combo like Tree + Scythe + Coffin + Cross would be enough though.
Because of its connection with death and grief, the Coffin is often the significator for mental health issues. Mice + Coffin + Clouds is one of the traditional combinations for depression; Mice + Coffin + Birds + Clouds could be a multiple personality disorder. Like all the death cards, moreover, the Coffin is strongly esoteric, and it is usually in play when dark magic is being practiced.
Although it is a card of ending, sometimes it may have a positive function within the economy of the spread. This happens most notably when it is preceded by bad cards and followed by good cards. In this case, the Coffin highlights the transition from a bad situation to a good one.
Even then, the presence of this card often implies that there will be sacrifice on the querent's part in order for his or her circumstances to improve. If the opposite happens, i.e. if the Coffin is preceded by good cards and followed by bad cards, this means the downfall shown by the spread will be ruinous and dramatic.
Not rarely the Coffin takes on the meaning of imbalance and deterioration. This is often the case when health is an issue. So, for instance, Tree + Coffin may be the generic combination showing illness; Tree + Heart + Coffin may signify a rather serious, though not fatal heart condition, and so on.
But this is not the only context where this meaning is important. For instance, if it is besieged by positive or neutral cards it could highlight an imbalance in whatever sense is relevant, rather than ending. House + Coffin could be the evidence of a gloomy or imbalanced atmosphere at home. The cards around will often point to the issue, which is where cartomancy transcends the merely predictive and becomes useful for solving problems.
Or, to make another example, Dog + Coffin could mean the end of a friendship. More commonly however, especially if no other card points to the same conclusion, it could show a period of unhappiness in a relationship with a friend.
It could even mean that the relationship lacks the necessary balance that is required for it to be a good friendship. Consider: Fish + Mice + Dog + Coffin + Whip, your friend is broke and he keeps asking you for money, which leads to arguments.
GRAND TABLEAU TIPS: Like all negative cards, the Coffin is best found at a long distance from the significator. Sometimes, when it comes right before the Significator and the cards following him or her show something different from what was going on before, it implies that the person is undergoing major changes in his or her life.
We already saw a possible combination showing depression. Another small piece of evidence could be the Coffin right above the Significator. Don't be hasty in diagnosing a mental desease, though: unless we can find other testimonies, this probably means something else, or it could show that the person has some big or traumatic change in mind.
PLAYING CARD INSERT: Few people know that, at the beginning, the meanings that are now assigned to the Clubs were assigned to the Diamonds and vice versa. As I said, Lenormand is a hybrid deck, not a coherent system, so we find influences of various schools. Open any old cartomancy handbook and you will notice this pattern.
This is probably because Etteilla, who first gathered the meanings of the Italian and French tradition, first published them as corresponding to playing cards, and then to tarot cards. Here, however, he assigned the meanings of the Diamonds to the Wands and those of the Clubs to the Coins or Pentacles. This is evident in almost all the cards.
In this case I would tend to see the Coffin as akin to the worst aspects of the Nine of Clubs, which were originally assigned to the Nine of Diamonds. These are concerned with imbalance, disruption, tragic endings and cataclysms. Often these are carried by the card when reversed. In its less destructive aspect, the card speaks of delay, physical distance and emotional coldness, or a relationship turning cold.
There is otherwise really no connection between the Nine of Diamonds -whose meanings were originally those of the Nine of Clubs- and the Coffin. The Nine of Diamonds as we know it is a card of material wish, the more down-to-earth side of the Nine of Hearts, if you will; it relates to recognition and therefore to the political body and the state.
As an obvious extension of this, it rules other people's expectations with regard to the querent's action, as no one attains fame without being required to live up to it.
It is part of the cartomancy nines, which are known as the "four wishes": the greater wish (Nine of Hearts), the material wish (Nine of Diamonds) the wish delayed (Nine of Clubs) and the wish denied (Nine of Spades).