Photos by Magenta
We’ve been unpacking Lenormand a little bit recently. Last week we posted our “how to” for 5 card Lenormand readings. This week we’re looking at how to read 9 cards.
9 Card Lenormand readings can feel like it’s all getting a bit much. So many cards, and what direction are they read in? How do they connect to each other? Why does everyone seem to approach it differently? Which way is the right way?
Well, today we’ll at least unblock the basics of how to do 9 card Lenormand readings and hopefully shed a bit of light on why it feels overwhelming. Hopefully you will find some helpful tips to improve your 9 card readings along the way.
What are 9 Card Lenormand readings?
A 9 Card Lenormand reading is a type of card reading that uses 9 cards from the Lenormand system of cartomancy.
The 9 card reading builds upon the 3 and 5 card readings, but with 4 added cards. One of the main benefits of a 9 card reading is that it gives the reader a fuller picture of the situation at hand, when compared to 3 or 5 card readings. This allows the reader to gain a deeper insight into the situation, particularly around influences, emotions, desires and potentially even actions that can be taken.
As you will come to see as you read this article, the 9 card layout is very versatile, there’s no one right way to read it! Today we will show you three different approaches, and each approach contains a variety of methods to reading the cards. So, it’s no wonder it can feel overwhelming to approach 9 card readings as everyone could be doing a different version.
Strategies for asking questions in a 9 card Lenormand reading
Step number one with any kind of card reading should always be consideration of the question being asked. In a 9 card Lenormand reading, questions don’t have to be closed questions, in fact it’s better if the question being asked is an open question.
As open questions are questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”, they give the reader the space to explore the topic further. Perfect when there are 9 cards to interpret.
Questions that request action are also great (depending on how the 9 cards will be read). These questions give the reader a way to gain insight into what action should be taken in the context of the situation. So this has the potential to give the “why” behind the action.
Popular 9 Card Lenormand readings
We mentioned earlier that we will show you three different approaches. Below are three different kinds of 9 card readings and as we unpack each one, we will describe the different ways of reading the cards in combination.
What makes the readings different is the approach taken to combining the cards. The cards are in fact all laid out in the same spread shape, which is a 9 box grid of three cards by three cards.
Traditional Lenormand 9 Box Reading – The traditional box spread is a 9 card layout that is read as a combination of all 9 cards, all at once. Taking into account the horizontal lines, vertical lines, diagonal lines and corner cards. It is a great approach to use when you have a question in mind that requires a bit of a detailed answer, or maybe some action that could be taken.
3×3 Card Reading – A simple variation of the traditional box reading is the 3×3 card reading. This is read as three separate lines and doesn’t necessarily cross combine. This is ideal if you have a kind question on your mind where the answer could be broken down into three constituent parts, such as how the past is influencing the present, and what action could be taken in the future.
Significator-led reading – This variation is probably best used for reading into a better description of a situation, such as describing feelings and desires, and even describing people. So if a question focused on the answer as a description, such as “what is this person like to work with”, this approach to the 9 card reading could be used.
How to do each 9 Card Lenormand reading
Remember that the cards are all laid out in the same spread shape, which is a 9 box grid of three cards by three cards. The thing that is different in how to read these approaches is in the combination of cards.
How to interpret the traditional Lenormand 9 Box reading
The traditional box spread is a 9 card layout that is read as a combination of all 9 cards, all at once. We mentioned earlier that there are so many different methods to read the combinations of cards. This includes reading the cards as one holistic group, that when it comes to interpreting the traditional 9 Box reading there isn’t one true right way.
Some methods of combining the cards are more complex than others (these are concerned with something in Lenormand called “houses” and really becomes a starter for the Grand Tableaux) but let’s just go with our favourite approaches for this article as they are really simple.
Remember the first place to start is always the question. What are you asking? It’s good to write this down sometimes in case you forget it, what with all the sentences you’ll be making.
Next step is to think ahead whether you want to start with a Significator card. This is a card placed in the very centre of the spread, and is one that you can pre-select and place down before you lay the other cards. It’s ok to not pre-select a Significator card by the way. Just remember that whatever goes in the middle of this 9 Box grid, that’s the focus card.
One method for interpreting the cards within this 9 card Box reading is the Central Cross method. You will notice there is a central cross within the 9 cards. This cross shape can be read as a 5 card spread, for example where the central horizontal line represents the current situation (with the central card the focus card of course) and the central vertical line shows what is supporting (the bottom card) and what is weighing the situation down (the top card). The four corner cards are action or advice type cards and are read as a foursome, providing the next steps pertaining to the situation.
Another method layers on a bit more detail, and uses the Central Cross method a little bit like Tarot’s Celtic Cross. The central horizontal line is about the situation within the context of time, moving from the past (the left centre card) towards the future (the right centre card). The central vertical line is about thoughts and actions. The ones we know about (at the top centre) and the ones we don’t (the central bottom card).
With either Central Cross method, causes and effects are described by looking at the diagonal lines. Top left down to bottom right are read in combination to reveal causes or what has influenced the situation, whereas bottom left leading to top right could be about effects or outcomes.
As ever with Lenormand, cards are best read as a combination of Noun + Verb or Adjective interpretations to make a rich sentence. You can find our detailed Lenormand meanings and two card combinations to see what this looks like in action
How to do a 3×3 card reading
The 3×3 card reading is read as three separate lines, and these don’t necessarily cross combine. This method might be best suited if the answer can broken into three parts. Method one is to read the lines horizontally, as three rows of three card readings. Method two is to read the cards vertically, as three columns of three card readings. Even within these two approaches, there are many different methods to interpreting the 3×3 reading. There isn’t one true right way.
Interpretation will come from the question being asked and how the reader wants to break down the answer into the constituent parts.
For example, one answer might require a situational approach, and the three horizontal rows represent what can provide support to an issue and what might be getting in the way. With this method, the centre row is the situation. The top row is what is weighing down on the situation and the bottom row is what could provide support.
Another approach might be a Past, Present, Future style answer. So choosing method one, the left hand column represents the past. The centre column is the present and the right hand column is the future.
Of course, the idea is to try and create little sentences that answer the question being asked. Lenormand cards are best read together, finding their Noun, Verb or Adjective interpretations in concert with the sentence being created.
How to do a Significator Spread
This spread is ideal if you have a description type question on your mind, such as “What is this person like?” Let’s imagine you have a new boss at work.
Place a card that will signify this person at the centre of a 9 box grid. The cards that surround the centre card will provide a more detailed description of your new boss.
Method one for interpretation is to simply start at the centre and read the cards in a circle. Building on to the little sentence being made one noun, verb or adjective at a time.
Another method is to start at the centre and, taking each card that surrounds the centre in turn, read the cards as two card combinations.
Remember that Lenormand cards are best read as a combination of Noun + Verb or Adjective interpretations rather than all nouns.
Add some richness to your 9 card Lenormand readings
The important thing is to decide the question and the reading approach before you lay the cards. We’ve described three different readings, but within each one there are more decisions to make for the method for interpretation that should be decided beforehand. Knowing the direction you will read the cards, and which ones will be combined and how, before you begin will mean the reading is less confusing and hopefully it will feel less overwhelming.
After the cards are laid out and the reading approach is decided, just have a sneaky look at the centre card (if this is not a Significator you have pre-selected). This might give you the high-level vibe for the 9 card reading, regardless of approach. Which brings us onto noticing the general vibe of all 9 cards. Just have a quick check in whether the whole picture is mostly positive cards or negative cards. Notice if there is anything to say about timing, when looking at the cards as a 9 card block.
If you need some extra clarity or extra detail, have a look at what the diagonal lines say before you lay out more cards (if these haven’t been read already that is). These are generally read starting from the left hand side of the grid running through the central focus card. Top left down to bottom right could be about causes, whereas bottom left leading to top right could be about effects or outcomes.
Using a technique called “mirroring” can also add some extra clarity. This is when the corner cards are combined in a short two card combination to provide some additional information.
There are many different ways to interpret 9 card lenormand readings, there is no one true right way to read the combinations of cards.
Deciding your question, the approach to doing a 9 card reading before you start will help with the sense of overwhelm. And of course, making those sentences make sense. It’s all about reading the cards as a combination of Nouns, Verbs or Adjectives in the context of the question.
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