One of the challenges with small Lenormand spreads when using a subject-matter “topic” card – Tree for health, Fish for money, Heart for romance, House for domestic affairs, Ship for travel, etc. – is that the assigned card may not appear in the layout at all if it isn’t pre-positioned. This isn’t a problem with the Grand Tableau because all of the cards are on the table, but the smaller the spread the less likely it is to show up. Technically, this isn’t a hardship since the cards that do surface can still be read to good effect. But – short of putting it in its place before the shuffle – I’ve been thinking of ways to make sure the topic card is actually dealt, giving the reading a single coherent focal point.
I hit upon the idea of dealing the deck into one or more 9-card horizontal rows, from top-to-bottom, until the topic card appears, then laying out three cards above and below it as necessary to create a 9-card square centered on the topic card. If that card lands at the far end of a row in either direction, I would also add a column of three cards to that end to complete the square. The only irredeemable situation occurs when the topic card emerges in the bottom row as one of the last three cards in the lower-right corner of the 9×4 array. Since too few cards will remain to create a square, this suggests a need to re-do the spread, or to simply read it as a Grand Tableau. Here is an example reading I did for my lingering respiratory struggle with head-cold symptoms, using the Tree as my topic card. I was fortunate, at least for the purpose of this example, that the Tree turned up in the center position of the first row, making it possible to exercise almost all of my proposed options. I’m using Lynn Boyle’s Heloise Lenormand.
All images copyright Lynne Boyle
The advantage of this particular example is that not only can the 3×3 square be read in the usual way, but all of the cards except the topic card and the two at the ends of the row receive two knighting opportunities, increasing the depth of the reading. (If the topic card had landed near either end of the row, the array would have been more skewed, with a less balanced interpretation.) I consider the two “book-end” cards to be the alpha-and-omega of the situation – the start and finish of the scenario – that aren’t subject to much in the way of modifying influences. The other four cards in the “wings” can also be brought into the core of the reading through pairing, triplicity and mirroring. Here, I dealt the first line of nine cards and found the topic card there; then I kept dealing, first three cards above and then three below the Tree. If that card hadn’t shown up when it did, I would have dealt a second line, and so forth. Right now I’m not intending to read any extra cards that accumulate outside of the topic card’s row and the 3×3 square enclosing it (a 15-card layout).
The Fish and the Snake are strongly suggestive of the copiously dripping sinuses I’ve been suffering from, while the Letter and the Stars have me believing that my only hope may lie in getting a written prescription for antibiotics. The triplet of Stars-Tree-Ring looks positive for eventually coming to closure after recurring bouts of illness, but Ring + Paths imply that there is still a ways to go, and Paths + Fox indicate that the way is fraught with misleading signposts. Heart at the end seems to bode well for happiness once the Fox is reckoned with. Caitlin Matthews’ timing for the Stars is “blessedly soon,” and for the Ring it’s “June;” however, Heart indicates October. I’m thinking the warmer weather in the next month will bring a turn-around.
The Lady-Ship-House triplet in the top row seems to be showing that my wife and I just returned home from a trip we took to the South, while Ship-Tree-Bear imply that I fortified my health in that slightly-warmer, distant climate. However, Clouds-Bear-Child could be showing that I just re-exposed myself to the cold viruses my granddaughter has been bringing home regularly from her daycare, weakening my immune defenses. Lady-Tree-Child may mean that my wife was re-exposed as well. Clouds-Tree-House I would read as saying that I should stay at home and out of the weather.
The Stars knights to the House and the Child, while the Ring knights to the Lady and the Clouds. The three of us are repeatedly brought together in what has amounted to a never-ending cycle of respiratory malaise, especially since we babysit our granddaughter at our house at least once a week. The Letter and the Paths both knight to the Ship and the Bear, showing that I may need to embark on a round of prescription remedies to regain my resistance. Letter also mirrors Paths, seeming to reinforce this observation.
The Snake mirrors the Fox, suggesting that the situation has been devilishly hard to outmaneuver; it could also indicate a sneaky woman. Snake knights to Lady and Clouds, repeating this impression. A different but related theme is that last year my wife was the frequent, unintentional bearer of viral infections from our son’s house to our old home across the State, where I also contracted them. Fox knights to the House and the Child, reflecting that we have been letting “the fox into the hen-house.” Conventional wisdom is that, if you want to avoid colds and flu, stay away from school-age children and people who have them. We can’t do that in this case, nor would we want to.
The eight “knighting arrays” constitute what I’m calling the “knights’ crossing” in that it cross-ties the extremities of the spread into its core, with only two exceptions. There is also an internal set of knighting combinations joining the Ship to the Clouds and the Child, testifying to the awful weather we had to endure to get home to our granddaughter, and linking the Bear to the Lady and the House, suggesting the fierce resolve my wife exhibited to get here (she drove the last – and worst – leg of the trip). The outlying alpha-and-omega cards, with Fish mirroring Heart, speak of “abundant happiness,” so maybe I will overcome this thing yet.