In honor of my new deck, A Helium Poet, my partner, Bent Sørensen, an inveterate card-player and divination connoisseur, decided to create a grand tableau spread, as he knows I have a faiblesse for them. He called it The Clover Lenormand. The idea is to use all the cards in a continuous line that goes in and out of three oval shapes, with 3 cards in the middle forming the point of gravitas. I call it the vortex. It’s a center you can’t escape.

So, let’s test the Clover Lenormand Grand Tableau (Bent’s design and my method).

I posed a question related to my work. As any academic, these days we are expected more and more to fund our own research, which basically means that we have to go out somewhere and beg for money. Or else look for donations. Some rich banks don’t mind giving alms. So it goes in the world that thinks of the educational system as a factory, where the academics work for the students who are now valued clients, and whom we must please at all costs. As they say in the capitalist world: the client is always right. And the capitalist world is right. There is no room for critical studies any more, but there’s plenty of room for applying for grants, and winning money for the university. Va va voom.

Now to the point of interest: I want to know to what extent my involvement with a research project, based on a donation, is beneficial for both parties.


But first, here’s the basic mechanics of reading the Clover Grand Tableau. In a reading, remember to be flexible. The steps below can be incorporated into one another, or more expanded on than I have done here. The idea is to achieve flow and a tight argument. See the diagram:

camelia elias grand tableau lenormand

1) First you lay the cards clockwise beginning with the left hand side loop. This first loop represents the past. You do the same with the top loop, representing the present, and then the right hand side loop, representing the future. The vortex can give you a pretty good impression of what’s going on (cards in positions 1, 13, 25).

2) Each loop is to be read in line.

3) For the consolidation of what is at stake in each loop, you can also look at the cards in the mirror. For instance card in position 8 mirrors the card in position 6. For a stronger impression, or an overall statement, you can take the mirroring pairs in the central position as an example. For instance the card in position 1 mirroring the card in position 7 is stronger overall.

4) Read the X in each loop, and take the cards beginning and ending the loop (the flat cards) as the cards that modify the pairs. First you read the left to right diagonal line, and then the one right to left. For instance, the card in position 8 pairs with the card in position 2. The pair is modified by the card in position 1. For the next diagonal: card in position 12 pairs with 6 and is modified by 7.

5) In the 2 horizontal loops, we can talk about things above, and things below, with the top and bottom rows corresponding respectively. The top loop has a relation of left and right, indicating antagonistic forces in the present. This indicates what you are up against.

6) The cards whose corners touch, that is, the cards in positions 12 and 14, 24 and 26, and 36 and 2, indicate cross-temporal connections. What influences the future can also be found as a future in the past.


Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet Lenormand, 2013
Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet Lenormand, 2013

Let’s have the question again:

To what extent is my involvement with a research project, based on a donation, beneficial for both parties?

We go through the reading steps as described above, although where relevant, I’ll be incorporating the mirroring stage already in the description of each loop, as this may tighten the argument. So, we follow the steps as above, but, again, remember to be flexible, and read in a dancing flow.

The past loop:

Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013
Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013

A group (Garden) gathers at the house (House) to announce (Stork+Rider) a work agenda (Sun+Anchor) based on a gift (Flowers). A man (Man) is oriented towards a school (Child+Tower) and makes a decision (Scythe) in good faith (Dog).

The present loop:

Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013
Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013

The project drags (Ship), as the solution is with the boss with money (Key+Bear). Although you can’t trust him (Snake) a small break is on the horizon (Clover). The Woman receives a letter (Letter), but the news is fuzzy (Clouds) – Note here that I didn’t say that the Woman sends a letter, which I could have just as well. What gives away the agency here is the mirroring card: Letter mirrors Ship, so, news from afar. Ergo: the Woman receives a letter. Things are being communicated (Birds) but it falls on deaf ears (Coffin). Or else we could say that the project hits bottom (Coffin), due to the dishonesty of the Bear (Coffin mirrors Snake next to Bear). The research project (Book) goes slowly ahead, however, due to its being rather special (Lily).

The future loop:

Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013
Camelia Elias, A Helium Poet, 2013

Losses due to miscommunication (Mouse+Moon+Ways) enervatingly (Whip) starve the resources (Fish, also mirroring Mouse enforces that what the fuss is all about is money). The heart is in the right place, as it feels fated to do this (Heart mirroring Cross). But it encounters a major obstacle (Mountain). A good thing, however, that the universe (Star) is above the enemy (Mountain) and augurs a recuperation of individual energy (Tree+Fox). The deal closes (Ring).

From this narrative we can infer that the project started well – good agenda, and good intentions (Sun, Flowers, Child, Tower, Dog), but then, due to skepticism and people pretending to be interested when they are not (Snake+Clouds=hypocrisy and calumny), some creative alternatives (Moon+Ways) get lost in the process. The fish landing on top of the mountain is not a good idea (see the mirroring here). So, the public space, dreaming of riches coming from afar and forgetting that it has its own resources, leads to grief (read the vortex: Garden+Ship+Cross). The antagonistic forces here are given in the fact that the Woman is up against an indifferent party that is also ignorant of what is at stake in the project.

If we look at the cards as they enter in relation between the above, the things in our heads, and the below, the things we control, we can say the following:

The Man decides to make part of his house available to the public (Man to House modified by Garden) – this is the donation, very nicely and very clearly represented by the cards here; quite a gift to see them fall like this). A swift decision was made to donate part of a life’s work as a gift (Scythe to Anchor modified by Flowers).

The solution to how to handle the situation is dragging, as it’s not clear (Clouds+Key modified by Ship) how to go about it. An honest woman receives bad news (Lily+Woman modified by Letter).

Emotional distress amounts (Mouse+Mountain modified by Heart). A fortunate outcome incurs by fated chance (Fish+Ring modified by Cross).

The cards that touch at the corners tell us this, across temporality.

The solution was cut off (Scythe+Key, past to present). The good honest project is contaminated (Lily+Mouse, present to future). But it’s still in the bag (Ring+House, future to past). The contract will be upheld.


To answer the question, we can say this:

I can bring my heart and soul to the table, which benefits both the institution and me. What the institution can give me is consolidate my position in the house, and give me free hands to go spiritual in my research – provided, of course, that I will be heard with a little more enthusiasm than the cards in the present indicate.

Stand tall and you win them all. A crusade is all it takes.


As we can see, a lot can be derived from reading with the cards in this particular layout. I like the spiralling narrative and the way in which the cards communicate with each other on 3 planes. A lot more could be said, but I think that this gives you an idea as to what we can do with 36 cards, and what other tableaus are out there, waiting to be discovered to our great fortune.

Good luck with the Clover Grand Tableau.

But don’t leave yet, as here come 2 new alternatives to reading the Clover Lenormand, thanks to Bent – who has just appended this image below for a way of reading the tableau in an even more spiralling way, in which the past, present, and future relations become even more dynamic – and faithful contributor to Taroflexions, Markus Pfeil, following Bent’s suggestion. I’ll append Markus’s comment immediately after his diagram below.

Enjoy, and keep them coming.

camelia elias grand tableau lenormand
Bent’s second spiral.
markus pfeil
Markus Pfeil’s diagram

Here’s Markus’ comment for his diagram above:

I like the swirliness a lot. This transforms the clover (c Lover) into a trefoil-knot. I really like this knot. It is of course daughter to a string, and brother to an encircled leminskate. Both can be constructed from a simple overhand knot one closed upwards, the other closed downwards. In the clover form the centre of the knot collapses, and we can read three leaves. In the trefoil-knot form we read a Long string in three section, in the Lemniskate the top leaf encircles the others and there is now a reading in a reading. So we take Le-String-Normand and swirl it this way and that.


camelia elias lenormand helium poetNOTE ON THE DECK:

Camelia Elias (with Witta Kiessling Jensen, who made 6 cards out of 36):

A Helium Poet Lenormand 2013.

Ink on Canson Montval paper.


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Add yours →

  1. Simply marvelous work. Go team Bent and Camelia..

    • Thanks. As a reader, I like to see what cards can do in action. As reader who is historically conscious, I like to test new ideas against old ones. Nothing is ever fixed. Besides, against the background of what’s happening in the Lenormand community right now, with most people stifling the discourse, we need an infusion of new energy. The new spread here worked out beautifully. The info about the past was extremely precise, to the last dot. Quite something. The present likewise. And it looks like the future is as anticipated. We’ll just have to see how much pleasure there’ll be in working with the corporate crowd the totally individual way. I like the Fox in that position there. But as we all know, working alone is a hard sell. Luckily however, the world is much larger than the voice of the few contaminating everything with its incredulous resonance and ignorant approach to ideas of value, both across history and contemporaneity.

    • Thanks! We need to break the Lenormand out of too narrowly defined traditions/straitjackets and one way is to design new spreads and reading flows.

  2. Helium Poet – U He Lip Moet – You and Bent – Pure Champagne de Lenormand (Not D.O.C: alas…thus non-commercial) on cartomantic lips….I love the cards made for a cartomantic endeavour by hand they carry a rune-staff like charge to them. Wonderful. I also love the symmetry of the spread, with the 1-13-25 centre, adding to 13 – 26, equalizing to 39 = 13-13-13….which does not work in other countinations.
    Helium Poet – Peel Him out!
    If truth is male, that is what happens.
    Thank you for this Camelia

    • Ah, how bubbly. I’m glad you enjoyed the champagne. The 13 13 13 is just about perfect. About the deck, I’ll cut a few copies, and begift them to special people like you, who get what the whole thing is all about.

    • Nice peeling, Hr. Pil!

      I think the swirlier way of reading that I offer in the second diagram is a good way to supplement the use of the Clover GT. One can still lay the cards in the way Camelia did (cf. the first diagram), but there are many ways of reading the spread, for instance in the swirly loopy way I added. Many other paths through the clover patch could be devised…

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