Le Normand, Marie-Anne Adélaide
Famous French clairvoyant and fortune teller known as
‘‘The Sybil of the Faubourg Saint Germain.’’ She was born at
Alençon and became one of the most celebrated occultists and
diviners of her day, though it might be said that her art was
much more the product of sound judgment than of any supernatural
She predicted their futures to Danton, Marat, Robespierre,
and St. Just, but we hear no more of her under the years of the
Directory (1795–99). When Josephine Beauharnais came into
prominence as the intended wife of Napoleon, Le Normand
was received at all those houses and salons where the future empress
had any influence.
Josephine was extremely credulous and used to read her
own fortunes to herself on the cards, but when she discovered
that Le Normand was an adept at this art, she often had her in
attendance to assist her in it. Even Napoleon himself, who was
not without his own superstitions, had his horoscope read by
Le Normand soon set up her own salon in Paris, where she
read people’s fortunes by means of the cards. It is not certain
whether these cards were of the nature of tarot cards, but it is
more than likely that she used various methods. She occasionally
divined the fortunes of others through playing games of piquet,
sept, and other well-known card games of the day. There
is anecdotal evidence that she told fortunes with ordinary playing
cards, but there is also a tradition that she used a specially
designed pack. She did not hide her methods from others, but
the Parisian society of her day appears to have thought that her
power of divination lay not only in the cards she manipulated
but in her personality or occult insight.
After the fall of the emperor, Le Normand was in great demand
among the Russian, German, and English officers in
Paris, and even Emperor Alexander and other potentates consulted
her. Shortly after this she went to Brussels, where she
read the fortune of the Prince of Orange, but when she was discovered
trying to cheat the customs officials, she was arrested
and thrown into a Belgian prison.
By 1830 she had become quite forgotten, and when the
newspapers announced her death on June 25, 1843, a great
many people failed to remember her name. Le Normand had
a great reputation for the accuracy of her predictions among
all classes, from revolutionary heroes to emperors and royalty.
What is said to be an authentic reproduction of the ‘‘Mademoiselle
Le Normand Fortune Telling Cards’’ has long been reprinted
in Europe and elsewhere and is currently marketed by
U.S. Games Systems, Inc., New York, New York.