TO BE OR NOT TO BE IN A GROUP
As of late, I’ve been thrown into some discussion about French cartomancy in regard to reading with what is called the Lenormand cards. Although reading with these cards has been around, both in continental approaches to cartomancy as well as in Eastern Europe, the American card readers are catching up and many are enthusiastic about it.
What one would like to see, however, is that more would approach reading the grand tableau without apprehension and with more verve and nerve. What I mean by this is that I’d like to see people reading the grand tableau with a sustained focus, and with an eye for how the first sentence based on a few cards can be validated by the larger set.
As it is, most of the writing on the grand tableau around gets lost in details that often end with small and local conclusions, such as, the money seems stable, the love so and so, the woman is confused, and so on.
While this type of reading can be revealing in its own right, I find the ‘being all over the place’ approach less enticing. There’s little challenge in that, and one may just as well revert to doing a 3-card reading if this is all that one can extract from the larger picture.
As far as I’m concerned I like to see how we get from A to B, what the overall claim is about the what the tableau suggests, and how the argument is advanced in relation to A and B. Having discussed some of these ideas with a fellow-cartomancer, Fortune Buchholtz, we decided to take the grand tableau for a ride, and give here a wilder, and hopefully more fascinating, account of what the tableau can do for us, both at a conceptual level as well as a pragmatic level.
We both did a reading of a cast I did in connection with our decision to lay low in a study group where a few people expressed animosity related to engaging ‘academically’ with the Lenormand cards. Fortune followed the German school and I the French.
TO DO OR NOT TO DO MATH
To begin with, Fortune wanted to know why I prefer the grand tableau and my reply was that it’s because I want to see how things fall into place symmetrically. I like to start with the symmetrical relations that resist me, and in fact also seem not to be symmetrical at all in the beginning.
I love to see if I can produce an argument based on evidence from the concrete level of the image that may support my ‘forcing’. I get this from logic and mathematics, especially the branch that is associated with complex analysis, more specifically, set theory. Here ‘forcing’ is a method employed to prove consistency and independence results in a set.
In layman terms, and where reading cards is concerned, what I’m interested in is how to formulate a sentence that is consistent with the results I get from reading smaller areas of focus, such as the carré of 9 cards around the significator card, reading horizontal and diagonal lines, looking at knighting positions and mirroring, and so on.
The idea is NOT to arrive at reading the tableau and conclude 10 different things based on smaller narratives that we derive from these focus loci, but rather, to say one thing that reflects the larger picture.
Again, other ‘advanced’ techniques of reading the grand tableau are offered in various places in cyberspace, but I find that almost all fail at staying focused. In other words, while people may make some sense in reading the 36 cards by the book – or some book, anyway – they end up with insignificant messages. The one elegant sentence that reflects what’s going on is missing.
Fortune was quick at picking on my idea and grievance on seeing that very little attention is devoted to what’s most fascinating. In good mathematical style she asked: “Let me ensure I understand – I think I’m hearing some modal logic here, right? – So your goal is to create a sentence and seek to show that it is consistent with another that also exists within the set, specifically by enlarging the set (that is to the entire GT from reading just a pair, line, or square of 9).
And to create these ever larger sets, which you seek to validate one after the other, you choose various geometries (lines, squares, spirals) to set the boundary or space?
But to continue to the end, you are selecting finite pieces of information (2 cards, 3 cards) and need only validate the consistency of these against the larger chosen space. So we know both the smaller piece and the larger space is true by consistency and the compactness theorem? I think I’m hearing the compactness theorem here? Just to be sure.”
My response to all this was: “yes, thank you, for bringing in what’s beautiful here. The idea is to make ALL the cards validate the consistency of those first ones, or rather the consistency of the sentence formulated on the basis of these first.”
Then Fortune wanted to know: “Let us say we have some generic square of 9 around Lady, which we read. Of the many possibilities of spaces that could be chosen from there, what will dictate the choice of the next larger space? Is there a choice pattern or algorithm?”
To this what I had to say was that, yes, there is a pattern, but it’s randomly chosen or dictated by the geometrical lines I see immediately at work.
But the crux of this exchange was in Fortune’s next question, when she really brought an interesting idea to the table. Said she: “when it comes to set enlargement, I think it’s a very interesting consideration on the practice of mirroring.
And what would you say should you find the enlarged set is not stating the consistency you had expected?” Here I was presumptuous enough to declare that, so far, I don’t think I ever had the problem. All my tableaus seem to just go ‘bang’. A weird thing.
Fortune then replied: “I believe there are some known best methods for searching for these larger sets. I wonder if the shapes these methods make might coincidentally overlap with some of the common Lenormand practices. At least, it is an interesting notion on the level of the language game as to why Lenormand might ‘work.’”
Given this setup and exchange we decided to attempt a joint demonstration, albeit not one that formalizes the relations as we find them in math – we may do that at some other point – but one which may give us a sense as to what else is there in terms of reading with Lenormand cards than endless pairing and uninspired solutions.
Our example here thus comes from a reading of a grand tableau based on my question related to my position vis-à-vis our cartomantic study group. My exact wording of my question was this: “what is my appropriate position (in) towards this group?” Coming from the German tradition, Fortune offered to give me her interpretation first, in order to see how it might match my French.
Looking at your GT was very interesting, from my perspective. I’m sure your interpretation will likewise be intriguing and insightful. I look forward to reading it.
“Your question: “what is my appropriate position (in) towards this group?”
I take you to be Lady and the group to be Park. This is why we both did the laughing earlier about this, because, of course, your position towards – is to have your back to it and be walking away.
As for your position in, well you are not; none of the common lines connect you to it; you keep a safe distance! At arm’s length so to speak, an appropriate distance. To be more direct – Lady+Bear+Book, you must always trust only in the strength of your intelligence, don’t let them get to you. Otherwise I feel you may find the outcome there stressful and perhaps feel a bit isolated (Tree+Lily+Scythe+Tower).
The corners are of interest as well, I think. Lady+Mountain+Child+Birds – You are a bit frustrated with this situation. Apparently there are other projects or interests you can benefit from by attending to for a little while.
Looking at the square of nine around Park, you are considering a decision (Paths) to end (Coffin) your relationship to it because it can be burdensome (Cross). Anchor suggests to me a work project could also benefit from taking some time away from the group. Park itself in the house of Child, maybe it’s a bit immature, and the group will mellow out with time.
The center 4 cards you like to look at to me seem to echo that ending/taking a break from (Coffin) a burden (Cross) is an event (Park) you might take heart from. Or alternately it could free you to hang out with another crowd (Park) more often, one you may find more congenial (Heart).
If we were to look at Coffin directionally, the uncovered side that welcomes things in would usher in Key, which brings with it all these great things: House, Ring, Book. All good.
You knight to Key anyway, right? No need to care about any passing weird confusion elsewhere (Clouds).
I must say, apropos of nothing, that the Man here really is “in the clover.” Just a nice set of lines, and placed fortuitously in the house of Paths, or by your system, I think that house may mean Gifts. Either way, all good for him. His lines are so strong I’m not so worried about his knighting Mountain at all, in this context I ascribe it to winter. I’d say good news soon about something he wants to finish this winter.
Thanks for this opportunity, it was fun and straightforward. Comparing your take will be really great, so until then!
My reading also began with a first sentence that sets the tone of the tableau, as derived by the first 3 cards. (For a step-by-step method of reading see my post here). So here it goes:
I possess strong and solid knowledge that gives me satisfaction – Woman in the house of Rider indicates an awareness of a present project that involves the dissemination of knowledge (Stork in the house of House) plus satisfaction (Bear in the house of Clover).
I have to make a decision, but lucky me, it will be the right one that will involve a new project (Paths+Clover+Child). This is all good news as I’m involved in setting up a new program at my university, which, to keep the focus here, is directly related to cartomancy.
So, if a random group on Facebook gives me a headache, ahem, there’s another Park where I can park the exact same knowledge that I was trying to disseminate in the other context. So Fortune nailed this one nicely.
The corner cards tell me this: I encounter opposition in the study group which is due to immature chatter. (Woman to Mountain and Child to Birds – the Child being in the house of Coffin which stands for ingratitude, suggests that what is being resisted to is the form of communication that I stand for (the Birds are in my vertical line in the house of Ring which is associated with kindness) – at the other end there is ingratitude.
As we are not on the same page, alas, perhaps where the communication goes wrong is in our making the wrong assumptions about each other. As the claim goes in the Lenormand group, everybody wants to keep it simple, yet as far as I can see, and as far as Fortune can see (she is also a member, or has been until yesterday) the claim to simplicity is made at the expense of ditching nuance.
I go with Einstein who said the following: “one should make things as simple as possible, but not any simpler.” So we are not on the same page. This is clearly indicated by the central 4 cards: Coffin+Park and Heart+Cross.
It’s pretty clear that this network gives me grievances in spite of my desire to contribute some knowledge. The Heart in the house of Park, which stands for treachery or fraud, indicates that this is not the place where I should let my heart linger, an idea enforced also by the Coffin in the house of Birds above it. So the Birds card becomes significant here as it tells me something about the context of ending a relationship with a network that doesn’t work for me.
My diagonal line tells me that I’m the master of the House, and soon I’ll be concluding a deal that involves cutting the Snake out of my life. The Snake in the House of Man (the dead man’s house) followed by the Scythe in the house of Fish indicates that cutting an unjust relation is a way of doing myself a favor (the house of Fish means just that, favors).
The last 4 cards enforce the idea that there’s no way around it, and that if I want to maintain my peace of mind (Tree+Lily) I must cut out the ‘school’ (Tower) that doesn’t accommodate thinking that differs from dogma.
Pay attention to how the sheath in the Scythe card becomes the Tower. So what is natural in a harvesting bundle, becomes a straight jacket made of bricks. The Scythe and the Snake are also related in their proximity in the diagonal line, and here we can also observe how, this time, the Snake becomes the handle of the Scythe, almost winding itself around the sheath. In what I call the ‘final logical mirroring’ this pair mirrors the Book, so it’s clear that we come full circle in our understanding precisely of what the message is, the famous sentence that we must begin with and arrive at by deduction: “keep your knowledge to yourself, and get out of there.”
This message is also enforced by the famous Key, which in my vocabulary has a lot to do with our desire. As I knight to the Key (Woman to Key in the house of Whip) I’m tempted to say that what I must find a solution to is how to bury the study group in the garden (Key+Coffin, Book+Coffin) and let it stay there (Anchor). Conversely, reading the second line, I could say that I have things to offer from my own private wealth (Stars+House) but giving it to the zombies would be a rotten waste (Key+Coffin+Park).
My diagonal line ends with the Scythe, but if I follow the line back up again (a procedure I haven’t seen others doing, and one which I like to call as part of my dynamic geometry) I find that a friend is well disposed towards me (Dog+Sun+Rider) and he will soon hand me a letter to sign regarding a new project (Rider+Flowers, Letter+Child).
This project involves the administration of money, which I won’t regulate myself (I’m far from the Fish card), but in which I have a determining vote. How do I know this, if I didn’t know this already, and how is this consistent with the larger set and the overall message? Look at the intersecting line between the Woman and the Park.
They meet in the Paths. So, my decision to leave the group alone so that it can restore its universe without too many academics in it gives me other work to focus on (Paths+Anchor) which is a bit lucky given my heartache. The interesting thing about the Man is that following the intercalation of the lines above from the Scythe upwards and ending in the Child with a back view line to the Paths, which is the clench card, we can argue that the Man helping me has also been there where I find myself now, in this relation.
Where ‘belonging’ to a group becomes more of a hassle than joy. As I knight at the Clouds too in the house of Dog, with the Dog card right below the Man, I can make the inference that we share the overcast Tuesday.
His diagonal line for his past ends in the card of Lily, but bending it upwards again we realize that it goes to the Stars in the house of Flowers just below me and through the Clouds. So there’s unambiguous evidence that we do share the clouds, but also that they are passing in the face of the gift of Flowers, which he ‘accidentally’ knights to.
So, all is well, the system is consistent, the larger set confirms the sentence: “keep your knowledge to yourself, and get out of there”, and the compactness theorem works beautifully.
To arrive at all this, it really only took me no more than 1 minute and a half, so we can’t get more compact than that, metaphorically speaking. Symbolically speaking, it really does us good to remind ourselves that in the world of representations, a moon is never just a moon, nor is a cigar just a cigar.
When dealing with language, we are dealing with a system of differences. Doing a grand tableau this way – one can of course stick to one’s own ways – is a beautiful exercise as it enhances all that which we are all capable of, and without even mentioning a single philosopher.
Good speed to you all, Lenormand enthusiasts. The only rule is this: pay attention to what deserves attention.
The deck: The Lenormand Oracle: Erwin Kohlmann / Oswin Volkamer, Verlag fuer die Frau, Leipzig 1982.
Stay in the loop. Join The Art of Reading. Get a gift: Read Like the Devil: A Crash Course.