The Whip in the Anna.K Lenormand is one of the cards which went through several evolutionary stages. Here they are:
When I drew the first version of the Whip, my focus regarding the card’s meaning was very strongly on the aspect of aggression, and abuse. That was definitely the reason why the first version of the card has a person in it – a child. The child is standing in a corner, head down, quite obviously either guilty or afraid, or both. The hand holding the whip in the foreground is quite clearly going to punish the child for something they have done. This first version of the Whip was a very strong visual representation both of (aggressive) confrontation and (physical) abuse.
But after a while my perspective on the card’s meanings shifted. While I still included confrontation and abuse, I had moved on to also include the voice of our conscience, the cry for justice, and compensation for wrongs done. This meant that now the card didn’t mean solely unproductive things to me. Now it also pointed at potentially productive things. Because of this, the presence of the child now felt wrong. For the child, about to be (physically) punished, made the image too obviously violent, pointed at abuse so unequivocally, that it made a positive, productive interpretation of the card (as a cry for justice, as appropriate compensation for wrongs done) impossible. So the child had to go.
I decided instead to put a chair in their place, a chair with a red cushion. On this chair, I felt, you could in your mind’s eye place anything. An abused child could sit there, waiting for and fearing their punishment. But you could also put a certain topic on the cushion, a topic that an argument centered around. Or you could put something on the cushion that had been broken or damaged, thus drawing attention to the fact that some kind of compensation was needed. For a while, I was happy enough with this second version of the image. But then the chair and cushion began to feel too “anything, everything”. I now felt that I wanted something a bit more concrete than an empty chair. I wanted a more concret reason for conflict, a more obvious sign of aggression, a clearer symbol of the need for compensation.
And since in the meantime I had also added “wanton destruction”, and “things that are broken”, to my interpretation of the card, I soon came up with the broken plates that you can see in the final version of my card.
Three plates are still whole, up on the shelf – I didn’t want the card to necessarily represent total destruction of everything, after all – two plates are broken. Many smaller shards are scattered on the floor. But the largest part of a broken plate is propped up on the chair, almost as if someone had put it there; reproachfully, accusingly: “Look what you’ve done!”. The broken plates can serve as a symbol for many different things. They could represent the catalyst for an argument. They could stand for the damage hurtful remarks cause, for something which is broken (possibly beyond repair), or for injury. They could represent something we feel guilty for, or ashamed of, and they could say that someone needs to be compensated for damage done to them. And an unintended but very welcome additional interpretation of the plates is that the shards obviously need to be cleared away and thus represent a clean-up. This is very useful for those readers who interpret the rod in the Whip card as a broom and believe the card stands for tidying up.