I've been reading professionally and non, off and on, for over 35 years, and in that time, I've learned a lot of things I'd like to share with you all. The first of those is what I consider the single most important rule of all when it comes to reading.
If you have learned to read the Lenormand Fox as intelligence and wisdom and cunning, read it that way consistently. It doesn't mean deceit, and it doesn't mean escape (unless it's escape by being intelligent), and it doesn't mean a cheater or disloyalty or anything else. It means intelligence for you, and you should be consistent in reading it that way.
Except! Sometimes, the symbolic can be superseded by the literal. Sometimes, that Fox card means a literal fox, or red hair, or running quickly, or being chased. Even in these cases, your interpretation will be consistent, because those tie directly to the card itself. You're not going to suddenly say "Green!" or "Mongoose!" because the symbol on the card has nothing to do with those.
Your intuition, the question, the context, and many other potential factors will influence which meaning of the Fox you use, but those meanings are all consistent with the symbol on the card. If you remain consistent, then you will quickly build a strong language to communicate with, and your readings will become more accurate.
But Sometimes, I Have an Insight
There is no doubt that some people have insights and intuitions when reading, and a lot of books (and readers and wenbsites and videos and... ) mention the fact. A lot of people feel you should always trust those intuitions over what the cards (or runes or bones or...) are showing you, and go on to give very good reasons why you should do that. I have a thought about that.
So, it's not that you shouldn't trust your insights, visions, and what have you. You absolutely should. But that doesn't mean you should trust them unconditionally. It's really easy to get stuck in your head, in your own interpretation or daydream that has no relationship to reality, or generally just get it all wrong. The cards are tools that keep you grounded in the World so that you don't get lost in a rabbit hole following some interpretation that's way off track.
A decent reader is one who can mediate between the practical and the ethereal, and who can ground their visions in reality and explore all the possibilities of the cards. What that means, in terms of consistency, is that you should take that insight and determine how it is represented in or impacts the situations laid out in the cards in front of you.
Suppose you're reading some Tarot cards for a friend who wants to know about her relationship. You draw the Devil and the 3 of Swords - which are traditionally NOT a good sign for a relationship. But you have a really good feeling nonetheless, your intuition says that good things are happening, so you ignore the cards, and just go with the intuition.
And then later learn that she dumped the controlling bastard and was having heart-broken second thoughts about taking him back. For months, she second guessed her own worth, struggled with depression, and generally had a hell of a time. What gives? Where's that happy intuition you had? Why were you so wrong?
Consistency - Keep to the meanings of the cards, and don't ignore what they say. Figure out how your intuition fits in with what's before you.
Eventually, you might learn that after all those months of agony, your friend emerged from the other side much stronger, confident, and happy. She'd been through the wringer and was forced to find her own self-appreciation. You were right, but by ignoring the cards in favor of your intuition, your description of events left out some significant details, and left your friend without preparation or understanding of what was coming down the line.
What's So Great About Consistency?
The thing here is that your system is a language that describes the world. More specifically, it's a language of just so many words that has to describe the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and everything in it. 78 cards to describe space shuttles and microbes and polyamorous body modifcation experts. Just 24 runes to describe carburetors and acrylic paint and PCOS. And so on - each system has a limited set of "words" unique to itself that have to be enough, somehow, to communicate about everything that can possibly happen.
Now, imagine that same list of words, but feel free to ignore the meanings whenever you want. If you're communicating with someone (The Universe? Spirits? Ancestors? Who knows?), won't it be ridiculously more difficult if you don't use those words consistently?
You're talking to someone about their friend in a relationship, and they use the word that means "tied up". If you just decide on a whim, or because a thought popped into your head, or because you don't like difficult situations, or a little birdy told you it actually means "Happy Times!" - you're not communicating.
Consistency means those words will have the same meanings - or cloud of meanings - every time you use them. Even if you're not communicating with someone else, and it's just you and yourself, you should still be clear and consistent. You can't describe a light switch if you can't even use the words consistently - no one, including your own self, can trust that those words mean what they originally thought.
So what do you do?
Take those insights and visions and gut feelings, and figure out where they fit among the cards or runes or stars before you. Maybe they describe the particular face of a card or combination - your intuition that the job will work out is reflected in the Mice, who will eat away the problems slowly over time, a different picture than the usual understanding of the Mice in Lenormand, but it is still very appropriate - consistent, even - to the vision you had.
It's important to recognize too that sometimes, those visions might not be for the person you're reading for, or apply to an entirely different situation, or are details about a more important question that hasn't been asked. Be honest with your client and yourself, as you may be able to sort out what other information is coming through, and do it without setting aside the reading in the cards.
Sometimes the intuition you have will fall in between the cards. You've pulled your past, present, and future cards from this oracle deck, and you're ready to start explaining why things are going south with your aunt. You have a sudden vision of whispers and gossips, but the cards only show change, isolation, and joy at the end.
It seems likely that the change has been caused by those gossips, don't you think? That whispering campaign resulted in the isolation and the issues you've been having, but clearly, you'll get past it and back to the joyful relationship you used to have. Here, you had more insight into the start of things, which wasn't in the cards, but doesn't ignore or contradict them.
Suppose you've decided you want to create your own divination system. There are plenty of websites that talk about it, but they're generally in very haphazard terms: just collect some symbols, and voila!
If it wasn't obvious, I'm not a big fan of that methodology, because it leads to the kinds of oracles out there that can't actually address most of the issues people have questions about. It's all well and good to consult the Angel deck for angel-related issues, but when you need to know if you should accept job offer A or job offer B, the vague responses those decks tend; whether you will read every question or not is a different issue, and the deck should be able to answer health/death/legal questions even if you don't read them.
There are two main approaches to a system, which I call Word and Story:
In the Word approach, the system uses precise components which are combined to create more details. These systems tend to be very practically oriented with down to earth and concrete descriptions. Examples would be the Lenormand or Numerology.
In the Story approach, you see each token having a complex array of meanings. How each story connects to the others is where the interpretation is made. They tend towards very psychological interpretations, and tend to go into the motivations of the people in a situation. The classic example is the Tarot, modern Astrology, and most of the modern oracles.
Both approaches have their pros and cons, but I find that people tend to lean one way or the other. Myself, I tend more towards the Word approach, but it's a spectrum and there are moments where the Story method is really helpful.
Part 1: Meanings
With either of those approaches, and with the idea that a system should be able to answer any question, I find that working through lists of meanings is a really good way to make sure you have accounted for everything (within reason).
How do you do that? Go to your favorite websites, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. and just start writing down all the meanings you can find. I made a list and add to it occasionally - it now has over 12,000 meanings. That's more than I need, but handy to have nonetheless.
You're looking for a list that has meanings from across all possibilities. Positive and negative and neutral, all the possible relationships and work situations and health and so on. You want a list that will help you spot gaps in your list of tokens. I've done you a favor, and there's a text file below, with over 11000 random meanings for you to play with. I am pretty obsessive and stubborn, but even I gave up after approximately 2000 meanings sorted into tokens.
If you'd like to build your own though, I recommend looking for meaning lists from Tarot and Lenormand websites, especially for sites that list meanings for combinations. I've added plenty of my own, just be describing the situations and people in movies and TV shows I was watching as well, just sort of absent-mindedly, casually adding as I feel inspired.
Part 2: The List
Next up, start breaking those meanings down into tokens, and start grouping them. What that means is that you take a meaning from your list, and then decide how it would be represented in your system. For example, if the meaning is "a cheating lover", then you might want a token for deceit and one for a lover or relationship.
These tokens will be the start of your system, corresponding to the components you work with. We start with the Word approach because it's easier to sort, and can then add or expand into a Story approach if needed. As an example, in Astrology, those deceit and relationship tokens might be Neptune and Venus, with other keywords in there as well, of course.
Don't worry at this point about grouping them all together. Just create as many tokens as you need to build up every meaning. I ultimately ended up with about 200 that did the job for everything I came across. After I hadn't added a new token in a long time, I figured I was basically done. For me, that was about 2000 meanings, but I bet most people aren't as stubborn as I am.
One thing to be conscious of throughout this process is that some meanings won't easily fit into a meaning-focused token. I call these literals, where you need the meaning to be literally and not symbolically present. Colors, specific places in the world, and so on - these are all candidates for literals. A good example would be "French cuisine" - you might have a token for food, resources, survival, health, or the like, but you probably shouldn't have a token for "French".
Instead, that would be a good candidate for a literal, some characteristic of the card or bone or whatever that implies French. An example might be my Oracula card meaning order and civilization - the image is the long carefully tended rows of lavender on a French farm. It represents order, but literally, it can mean the lavender plant, purple, or France. The card for Spirits is a photo of incense from an Asian temple - you can imagine the literals there. In the Lenormand, an example is using the Snake for wires and pipes.
What I do is make notes for those meanings that need to be literals. It's also useful to think of them as correspondences to include in the details of the token. At any rate, as you explore and elaborate and learn about the tokens, you may change your mind about whether they're truly literals or not. They may need to be actual meanings for the token. At the end, you will be able to look at them and figure out categories to make sure to include and assign - you've got a list of 6 colors you need to include somewhere, so it's a good bet that colors in general should be associated with every token.
Part 3: Testing
Lastly, test the bejeebus out of that list of tokens! Figure out which tokens would explain each stage of the plot in your favorite novel / TV show. Which tokens describe the characters? How about describing your car and its history? Today's headlines? Your friends' relationships?
You may find other tokens are needed. Or that some of the tokens you've already listed are confusing, and should be merged, or differentiated differently. The more testing you do, the more finely tuned your list of tokens will be.
What tokens did you come up with? Where there any that you needed that you are surprised by? How about once that confuse you or seem off a little?