The Quadrants, the Cognitive Horizon and the Meridian of Becoming

My readers will be forgiven for assuming from the title that this is an astrological article. In fact, it is a discussion of a few of the techniques I use to navigate the landscape of a Lenormand Grand Tableau. This isn’t entirely my own work; it is based on the methods described by Andy Boroveshengra in the first edition of his impressive book, Lenormand, 36 Cards (although I believe he built them around traditional concepts inherited from his mentors, and has since expanded them in the second edition). Only the personal vocabulary, the fanciful descriptors and a handful of my detailed elaborations are wholly original.

The Grand Tableau embodies several logical divisions centered on the chosen Significator card and defined by the row and column containing that card. In the ideal situation, the Significator sits at or near the center position in the layout, with a uniformly configured cross of cards extending in four directions away from it. This “cross-hair” arrangement bounds two distinct sub-sets of surrounding cards (above and below, left and right) that are further iterated into four quadrants, left-below, left-above, right-below and right-above. The more the Significator lands off-center in the spread, the more skewed this alignment becomes, to the point that a Significator situated at one of the four edges or corners of the spread creates a challenging – and to some practitioners, unreadable – condition where several of the key mapping factors are missing.


The cards above and below the Significator’s row (you will see in a moment why I call it the “Cognitive Horizon”) describe the measure of control the querent has over his or her environment. Those above reflect circumstances that influence the querent but are not amenable to much personal direction or manipulation (things that are “done to” the querent), while those below involve subjects the querent has a good deal of say in (things that are “done by” the individual). In psychological terms, the former state is receptive and reactive while the latter is more assertive and proactive. A male with the Gentleman as Significator in the top row might be described as someone who is at least theoretically “master of all he surveys.” Some writers portray the “above” cards as representing the  realm of conscious awareness, showing “what is on the querent’s mind,” while the “below” cards are more subconscious and automatic in their operation, neither demanding nor encouraging deliberate intervention. (That same male would likely be a “man of action,” a doer and not much of a thinker.) We might view the mechanism as a kind of funnel or “hopper,” with objective “stuff” coming in at the top as raw material, undergoing processing by one’s cognitive machinery, and passing out the bottom into subjective reality as explicit actions.

To many readers, the cards to the left of the Significator’s column show what is in the past, those to the right reveal what is coming in the future, and those immediately above and below reflect the  querent’s status at the time of the reading. (I don’t pay any attention to the “facing” or “gaze” of the Significator here and always move left-to-right.) Although I don’t have it yet, I believe Andy addressed timing issues more conventionally in the second edition of his book; in the first edition, he defined the left side of the picture as showing matters that are fading in influence and are therefore of decreasing importance in the querent’s life, while those to the right are increasing in significance. The focus was more on how the querent should engage with developing circumstances to make the most of the situation, not on presenting a comprehensive sequence of events over time. There is thus less of a “fated” quality to the narrative. This is especially relevant in the “distance method” of interpretation, in which the cards immediately to the Significator’s right are literally “staring the querent in the face,” demanding active engagement. In this model, the spread exhibits  less of a “road map” predictability and more the dynamic nature of a “compass;” it conveys a state of “becoming” (hence the title “Meridian of Becoming” for the transitional column) rather than one of simply “being” in a temporal sense.

The hierarchy of quadrants depicts the cards in the lower left corner as the least influential in the layout, those at the upper left as slightly more consequential, those at the lower right as increasing in relevance, and those at the upper right as the most significant cards in the reading. I recall Andy saying that the card at the upper right corner of the spread is in the most influential position of all. In practice, I’ve been treating this last observation as a kind of “landmark” for the querent’s most compelling goal or destination in the broader sense of the life’s overall purpose, one that is not tied specifically to any of the topical cards (romance, work, finances, home, family, health, etc.). For me, it provides a kind of “book-end” for the first three cards in the spread, those that supply a hint of the main thrust of the reading. It is not so much an “outcome” card (which some readers consider to be the card in the house of the Cross, Position #36) as a “peak moment” indicator, an aspirational milestone pointing the way toward the best that can be achieved within the “big picture” presented by the reading. (Interestingly, in the 8×4+4 tableau, this card falls in the house of the Coffin, implying a major departure of some kind, while in the 9×4 version it appears in the house of the Bouquet, suggesting an incoming opportunity. These alternatives display two sides of the same coin; I often see the extreme right edge of the GT as a “jumping-off place” into an unknown future, and the Coffin denotes being pushed off the cliff while the Bouquet intimates being lured there.)

All of these measures fall under the heading of interpretive “weighting.” They impart a greater sense of order and due process to dissection of the Grand Tableau, systematically organizing the daunting tangle of conflicting impressions that can so dishearten the Lenormand beginner. They depict a slightly more fluid and nuanced scenario than that described by the techniques of distance analysis, knighting, mirroring and house correlation addressed in my last post.

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