There is a technique in Lenromand reading – I believe it’s a modern innovation but I could be wrong – known as “movable houses” (one wag has called them “mobile homes) which extends the house system native to the Grand Tableau to smaller spreads. Rather than having a fixed series of houses running from the Rider to the Cross or some standard, truncated sub-set, the reader shuffles the deck and lays out cards randomly in the quantity and pattern of the spread being used, on top of which the reading cards are dealt. Then the house-and-card pairs are read in the same way as in the GT.
I’ve been thinking about the nature and utility of houses as we use them in the GT, and wondering whether they can be made more “personal” to the context of the reading. One way I can think of is to keep the usual house series intact, then take a second deck and deal 36 more cards randomly on top of those positions as an additional layer of information – call it a “second story.” The reading cards are laid next, creating a kind of three-card “sandwich.” Purists will insist that all I’m doing is building a 72-card Grand Tableau on the 36 house positions. But I think it runs deeper than that. Houses sit on one side of an interpretive divide and the reading cards on the other. Houses are like architecture, or better yet, infrastructure. They resemble plumbing or electrical wiring that deliver services to the user. Think of a shopping mall: all the casual browser ever sees is the glittering façade of the storefronts; they never go “out back” where the goods are delivered, unpacked, inspected and readied for the rack. (By the way, it’s probably obvious that I don’t take a very mystical view of the Lenormand cards.)
Another analogy might be to consider the house positions (whether or not we populate them with cards) as the “stage set” of a reading and the cards of the reading proper as the actors, who often interact with the scenery as well as playing off one another. In astrology, the houses of a chart resemble “domiciles” where the planets act out their roles in the horoscope. The Lenormand houses are different, in that they don’t show environmental and psychological factors (also known as “departments of life”) so much as qualities that can shade the interpretation of the cards that “live” there. For example, the Rider by itself might indicate travel by car, while Rider in the house of the Mountain could be read as an impediment to movement, such as a roadblock or detour; it makes me think of “sand in the gears.”
Doing what I’m suggesting would add a third component. Suppose we have Rider in the house of the Mountain with the Crossroads intervening between them in the stack; the implication could be that there is still a roadblock in the distance but now there is a reasonable way to avoid it without having to climb over or “bushwack” your way around. This approach can create a kind of three-dimensional tableau, with the “house stacks” being read in combination with adjacent stacks, bottom-to-top and and sideways. I think I would take it in small bites, though, paying strict attention to proximity. I tried a more exhaustive approach to this concept before, with vertical knighting and diagonals, but think it was too intimidating for the average reader:
I have a sense that putting a middle card between the house position at the bottom and the reading card at the top can serve to interject the querent into the proceedings as a “doer” and not simply a “done-to” target of the outcome. We might even call this card the “querent’s interface” and give it an active role in effectively downloading and routing what is delivered by the “infrastructure.” When I do my next GT, I’ll try this out. But for now, I can hear my Lenormand friends echoing Ronald Reagan’s scolding of the press: “There you go again!” I suppose that, since I style myself half mystic and half mad scientist, there’s no help for it.