Counting Round: A Step Beyond

In re-reading Caitlin Matthews’ book The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook, I became reacquainted with the technique of “counting round” the cards in a layout in fixed increments from the significator or topic card. This creates an additional narrative path that Matthews suggests can be read as a separate line, after interpreting the pattern in the usual way, “to establish a final statement about the spread or to reveal a message for your querent about the next step to take.” I first encountered this idea in Andy Boroveshengra’s book Lenormand Thirty Six Cards, where he applied it to the Grand Tableau by counting every thirteenth card from the significator until he landed back where he started, and then read the sequence in a linear fashion. He noted that other readers count every third, fifth or seventh card.

My opinion is that this produces too sprawling a narrative for my taste, a case of too much information after exhausting all of the other avenues of investigation in the Grand Tableau. I would rather see the story unfold in a more organic way from the nucleus, which is why I have always found the proximity or “distance” method the most compelling way to read the rows, columns and diagonals of the Grand Tableau, along with auxiliary techniques like knighting, intersecting and mirroring from the significator or topic card. I typically don’t have to take the analysis into the “minute and tedious” details of counting to come up with meaningful results. Also, a full GT without counting can take me an hour to read, and I can see my sitter’s eyes glazing over as they try to absorb the information overload that would result if I included it.

But the 9-card square is a different animal. It always seemed to me that the central focus card is somewhat “imprisoned” in the matrix. After reading the triplets up, down and sideways, and then the inner diamond and the corners, there isn’t a whole lot you can do with it since there are no mirroring or knighting opportunities. Matthews advises starting with Card #5 in the center, and then counting Cards #7, #9, #2 and #4 as a series, laying them out as a five-card line and reading them for additional insight. This strikes me as an extremely useful approach that can show probable developments much more eloquently than just treating the left, middle and right columns as Past/Present/Future.

What really piques my interest is bringing it to bear on my “Knights’ Crossing” spread, which visually resembles a “pot-with-a-handle.” The 9-card square extends outward into a row, either to the right or the left of the focus card (and sometimes in both directions). I can see “counting round” Cards #5, #7, #9, #2 and #4 of the square, and then moving out to the right along the handle with Cards #6, #8, #10 and so forth until I get to the end of the row. If there is an extra card at the end, I would simply ignore it or treat it as a “footnote” to the narrative as is done in counting with the Opening of the Key method in tarot. If the handle projects to the left instead of to the right, I would go from Card #4 of the square to the second card of the handle as Card #6 and proceed in that direction. Right now I’m thinking that the highlighted cards of a right-facing handle will show critical future developments and the left-facing set can reveal those aspects of the past that have an especially telling impact on present circumstances, much like the “past” cards in a tarot Celtic Cross spread. If the “pot” has two “handles,” I would explore both in this fashion, longest arm first, creating a double-ended scenario that progresses from the past to the future. This would mean reading two different additional, abbreviated lines, each one beginning with the five-card “count” from the square but going in opposite directions. This notion appeals strongly to the “mad scientist” in me. I will perform and post an example reading to see what shakes out.