The Parlour Sibyl
Posted by Cardseer on September 17, 2007
Cartomancy Deck Review
The Parlour Sibyl
The Parlour Sibyl (La Sibylle des Salons) is a French Cartomancy deck based on the standard pack of 52 playing cards. The cards measure 2 1/2″ x 3 1/2,” and are larger than standard playing cards. The deck is divided into the traditional four suits of Spades, Hearts, Clubs and Diamonds, plus 2 Jokers. Each card of the Parlour Sibyl contains two images. The larger image in the center depicts a symbolic scene from everyday Parisian life at the turn of the 20th Century. These pen & ink drawings are quaint and colorful, and are reminiscent of the illustration style popular at the time. A smaller image at the top left of each card depicts the traditional playing card pip and suit. Each card also carries a title in both French and English as a mnemonic device to aid in the interpretation.
The Parlour Sibyl is published in France by Grimaud. It is was re-introduced in 1969 as a reproduction of the original fortune telling deck from the late 1800s. The deck comes with an instruction booklet in French and English. The booklet contains a brief description of each card and its meanings for divination. The instructions for three layouts are included, along with a sample interpretation for each.
The Parlour Sibyl is my favorite of the so-called Lenormand style cartomancy decks. I’m attracted to this deck because it consists of 52 cards instead of the traditional 32 in most Lenormand decks. In fact, it surprises me that The Parlour Sibyl is grouped with the Lenormand at all because its images don’t bear any resemblance to the traditional Lenormand symbols.
For example the 8 of Spades in the traditional Lenormand depicts the symbolic image of a garden, and represents creativity and social interactions. In the Parlour Sibyl, the 8 of Spades represents illness, which more closely corresponds to the playing card meaning for the 8 of Spades.
Some of the cards also match the symbolism of the Italian Sibilla, so I like to think of the Parlour Sibyl as a French version of the Sibilla. For example the 10 of Clubs in both The Parlour Sibyl and L’Oracolo della Sibilla depict the image of a man with a laurel wreath held above his head to symbolize success. Here are sample images of both cards (The Parlour Sibyl is on the left):
Here are a few more sample images of The Parlour Sibyl:
The Italian Sibilla was supposedly derived from the French Lenormand cards in any case, so it makes sense to find a French cousin for the Italian cards. Interestingly, Lo Scarabeo publishes a Sibilla with identical images, and with titles in Italian, French, German and English. The Italian version is called The Sibilla Oracle Cards. The Images on the Italian version appear to be exact copies of a much older deck. Here’s a sample of a couple of Sibilla Oracle Cards to compare with the images of the Parlour Sibyl shown above:
The Parlour Sibyl is a very popular deck. It always seems to be out of stock-perhaps because of its reputation for providing startlingly accurate readings. I know a very successful professional reader who uses this deck exclusively, and I also have gotten very accurate readings from this deck myself. If you’re looking for a 52-card cartomancy deck with a French flavor that isn’t based strictly on the Lenomand style, The Parlour Sibyl is the perfect choice. I highly recommend it.
All images © J.M. Simon 1979, displayed here for commentary, analysis and appreciation only.
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