One of my Lenormand students, Nina Strandlod, came to me with this lamentation yesterday: ‘I really can’t get a precise sense of the 9-card spread. Perhaps you can read it because you do something special.’ This gave me an opportunity to tell her just how I go about it, beginning with my shuffling ritual.
I believe that it is helpful when we come to the cards for advice to be aware of the following: 1) the fact that we are willing to step outside of our daily routines, and 2) the fact that we are willing to embody the world of surprise. While I shuffle the cards, I think of my question.
First I whisper it to make sure that that is what I really want to ask. Listening to how my voice sounds prepares me for agreeing with myself that I really need to get out of my usual self, the self that can’t figure out what the problem is, and allow for some other aspect of myself to emerge and to surprise me.
The cards are instrumental for my positioning myself between worlds. You can think of this ritual as a way of sending a message to your ‘higher’ self that you need it to show you how it comprehends things independently of cultural preconditioning.
This higher self is usually the part of ourselves that allows us to say goodbye to the world of conventions, prejudice, and masks – at least for as long as the reading session lasts – and embody the unexpected, the magical, and the obvious.
After this whispering, uttering my question in a convincing voice is not a problem. The clearer and more concrete the question, the clearer and more concrete the answer. I believe in symmetrical relations.
Nina laid out 9 cards in the traditional Lenormand carré, 3x3x3 (without choosing a significator), after articulating the following question: ‘What does it take for me to develop myself spiritually?’
I allowed Nina to say what she thought was most significant about her spread. My advice to her was to strive to strike a balance between her impressions and her more systematic going about the cards. The first part of the process went well. Everything she said was correct, but she was struggling with formulating what I call, ‘the master sentence,’ the one that gives you an answer in an unambiguous way.
I always go for this sentence and prefer it to a whole lot of waffling. Often readers are afraid of getting it wrong so they prefer to waffle instead. They think, ‘maybe I hit a mark here and there.’ And maybe they do, but for me, that approach is not good enough.
I prefer to go with an answer that can be debated and even overruled in the face of finding new evidence in the cards that one may not have perceived at first glance, rather than say something of the following: ‘perhaps we can say this, or that, or something else, or maybe not, oh, I think it’s more like this, besides, symbolically speaking, we associate this card with that meaning, so we can also say this,’ and so on…
Nina saw the Star. ‘The Star is here’ she said, ‘so, there’s potential.’ I proceeded to tell her what else we can say, if we go systematically about it, following also in the footsteps of our intuitions. So here is a short version following this method:
1) Look at the first card: it indicates what your project is. Look at the other corners going clockwise. Try to formulate a sentence that includes these 4 cards. The formulation of this sentence can begin with the last card in the sequence.
Mine was this (bearing in mind all the time the way in which this sentence can address the question): ‘Your spiritual development is contingent on how you can devise a strategy (Fox) for dealing with the unpleasant task (Whip) of acknowledging that what irritates you (Mouse) is your partner (Man).’
The corners say something about the outer theme of the issue. What is clearly seen, but not necessarily acknowledged. We can contrast the cards in the corners with the cards of the inner cross of the layout for the meaning of what we sense is in play vis-à-vis the problem, but not articulated.
I often read the cross as a diamond, beginning with the top card, showering on the left and right cards and making a mark as a drop, a full stop. My sentence here was this: ‘Your spiritual development is hindered by a lack of clarity (Clouds) in respect of thinking that your relationship (Ring) might end (Coffin) for the benefit of a new beginning (Child).
2) Then look at the 3 rows and see them as representing the following: the top row deals with what’s in our heads. In Nina’s case, she’s irritated (Mouse) with not knowing what to do (Clouds) about her partner (Man). He confuses her.
The middle row can represent what you’re all about. Nina wishes on a plane (Star) to end (Coffin) her relationship (Ring). The third row can be seen as representing what you actually stand on, what you have your fingers into.
Nina is working on a strategy (Fox) that’s spontaneous enough (Child) to teach her partner a lesson (Whip). Here we can conclude the following: While Nina is confused by her own desire (to end the relationship), in reality she has a plan (to correct her partner).
3) A look at the columns can further validate what’s happening and explain some of the reasons for what’s happening. They can also represent past, present, and future relations, beginning with the left column.
The reason why Nina desires a new beginning has to do with her seeing her partner as dishonest (Man mirrors Fox through the Ring). ‘He used to lie to me all the time,’ she told me, ‘and that really makes me want to start anew. But what is this new beginning’? (Clouds, Star, Child).
So here we also have the querent’s validation of the way in which the cards have already started validating our first impression. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘It looks like you’ll find a way to end (Coffin) your endless speculation, ‘will he or will he not lie anymore?’ (Mouse knights to the Ring), but it’ll hurt (Whip).
The Man is not going to like being corrected like a Child (Man knights to the Child) and he may show you an aggressive side (Man enters in a diagonal relation with the Whip).
What you can do about it all eats you up (Fox enters in a diagonal relation with the Mouse), and it looks like you’ll have to place your trust in your guiding Star.’ ‘So then, is this the answer,’ Nina asked? ‘That I need to let myself be guided by my inner light and meanwhile find a way to teach the man a lesson?’ ‘Exactly,’ I said. ‘End of story.’
Reading a 9-card spread is not difficult. Just remember this: when you go to the oracles, you willingly place yourself between the worlds: the world of logos and the world of mythos.
You ask a concrete question for which you cannot find an answer in ordinary reality. Allow your higher self, or genius, or God, or intuition, to speak to you. Constrain that to a system of thought, so that you won’t have to doubt the loss of your rational faculties and think that you’ve turned schizophrenic. Say thank you to the cards. Heed attention and take advice. And get on with the program.
Good luck to you all, and thanks to Nina for submitting herself to my flair for magic.
The deck: The Lenormand Oracle: Erwin Kohlmann / Oswin Volkamer, Verlag fuer die Frau, Leipzig 1982.
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