These days I’m being bombed with questions from Lenormand students as to what I think of the far and near method in reading a grand tableau (5 this week have posed that question directly to my email).

It’s nice to see that people take an interest and that some think I can offer an input that may counter what others insist on. Let me sum up here the gist of what I told everybody.

First off, let me just say that I distinguish very clearly between method and common sense. To me method is this: asking people to follow certain steps, look at corners first, then intersecting lines, do a mirror here and there, look at knighting positions, and so on. Method is all that which someone invents for the sake of simplicity, complexity, entertainment, or something else.

Common sense, on the other hand, is all that which we can all agree on without a method. It’s the universal recognition that something is just so. So, to answer the question:

The question of far and near pertains to common sense, NOT method.

Whether the cards change meaning or not, all according to their position in relation to the significator card, means nothing, if the cards will not relate specifically to the question.

So, saying that something stolen will not be retrieved if the mice are far from the significator means diddly squat if it contradicts the overall message that we get from the other cards on the table.

One can, of course, say that when some cards are far from the significator they would have less of an impact, but only if one is looking for such information.

My point is that passing judgment on the significance of distance in a reading should never come in unmotivatingly, or simply because someone decided ‘it’s method.’

What I say is this: If it is helpful to say that because the coffin is far from the significator, what we are looking at is good news, then say it. If not, then don’t say it.

In terms of the Lenormand deck having ‘invented’ the ‘far and near’ approach.


Anyone with rudimentary knowledge of astrology knows where this idea comes from, and that it goes all the way back to the Chaldean astronomers who calculated the significance of planetary alignments according to essential dignities and speed of the planets. Far and near, anyone? Well, plenty common sense again.

To illustrate just how serious others have thought of this far/near question in terms of its belonging to the category of method, here’s a short reading of a grand tableau with a rare fortunetelling deck in my possession from the 20s, a Lenormand variant.

What I like about this deck is its take on distance as depicted on the cards in the form of a short narrative. But not all cards have such indications.

And why not, one may ask, if this is such an important part of the old traditional Lenormand lore?

Here I would venture to say that it’s simply because the deck follows that part of tradition that says: Use your common sense.

When it’s called for observations of the far and near kind, then say it, if not, don’t force it through.

Here is my question, to stick to my own tradition of always insisting on one:

To what extent is it useful to downgrade common sense to method?

grand tableau lenormand

The significator card in this deck is nr. 18, the Woman (note that the significators here don’t have a playing-card inset). For common sense I picked the heart.

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 12.56.14 AMThe first card in the tableau, the Snake discloses what’s at stake. I’m forewarned. Snake mirrors Woman. Woman mirrors Shepard. Nice. Follow the tradition of the simple folk. Leave common sense to nature. And be forewarned if common sense must pass through the Tower. Tower mirrors Snake. A nice wrap.

I don’t even need to bother reading further. I don’t even need to bother looking at the heart. But if I do, I realize that it’s far from me. Hmm, I wonder what this means. It can’t be good.

According to others insisting on the far and near aspect as part of method, the fact that the Heart is far from the Woman can’t be good at all.

‘Oh, wow, I wonder if I should get distressed now. And how will this enter in the other, rather neat, relation of the corner cards? Oh, I’m getting confused now.’

I use sarcasm here for purely instructional purpose, as I simply wish to see that more beginners start thinking for themselves, before accepting every piece of nonsense at face value, just because it’s presented as ‘method’.

Common sense observations are not ‘method’, they are just common sense observations. Systematically applying observing the rule of far/near without consideration for relevance is just dogma, and has little to do with the reading of cards as an investigation into relations.

The rule of thumb is that if something is far is has little not impact, and if something is close it has more impact. That’s common sense. Let it stay that way, and forget about what the German School claims is theirs and what the French claims is more interesting.

Most of the time ‘schools’ are nothing but culture wars.

Whenever I’m confronted with lamentations and expressions of fear and inadequacy, i simply ask people to just look at the damn cards, and start with that.

Reading cards is not difficult if you apply to whatever system of divination common sense.

The idea is not to learn a method so that you can forget all about common sense. The idea is to think of method as something that serves your reading, not as something that you consider the ultimate guide. There is no such thing as an ultimate guide, as the ultimate ‘essential’ this or that.

Something is far, no impact, something is close, some impact. This is very simple, and pretty much all there is to it.

Screen Shot 2013-07-13 at 12.55.32 AMI liked my tableau today and the weird cards I’ve got. It certainly tells me that upgrading common sense to method is deadly and it goes nowhere. The Skull below the Woman in the top corner going nowhere can be taken quite literally.

Keeping common sense close to the heart means keeping it free of imposed rules that have little to do with the pleasure of reading cards. The Woman intersects with the Heart in the Child, which suggests that one should not be preoccupied with institutionalized conventions.

In many of my posts I advice readers of cards to not forget to dance with the cards. Rigidity only creates monsters.

Who wants to hear a mechanical, standard reading?

The last four cards in the tableau are quite telling in this connection: leave the many roads behind (Finger-post) and follow the sign: you are going dancing (Dancing) with the cunning (Fox) and the strong (Lion).

valmor fortunetelling

Dance, dance, dance, far, far away, near my heart.


Note on the deck: Valmor Fortunetelling Cards, United Novelty, MFG. Company, Chicago, 1920.

camelia elias gypsy witchA deck not presented here, the Gypsy Witch Fortunetelling (1904), is even more consistent with the far and near instructions. Some might want to check it out and compare.

Stay in the loop for cartomantic courses at Aradia Academy.


  1. cameliaelias says:


    Ryan Edward: Wonderful! Heart topped with the ‘Loving Couple’ as well. Distance makes the heart grow fonder?

    Not to mention I was trying to find images of this entire pack just this week.
    8 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Camelia Elias: It’s a fun pack. I like it that the Valmor products included a fortunetelling pack.
    a few seconds ago · Edited · Like

    Camelia Elias: On distance, pushed philosophically and academically, it is said that it creates the greatest intimacy. One of the best treatises on love is by Jean Luc Marion in his book The Erotic Phenomenon: Six Meditations. Perhaps I should have plugged that book along a discussion of far and near aspects in fortunetelling. It would have been interesting to see the reaction of the anti-intellectuals in the fortunetelling circles. A good thing I don’t write for the narrow-minded.
    a few seconds ago · Like

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