Sometimes referred to as the “portrait spread”, the nine-card layout consists of three rows of three cards, forming a rectangular shape and one of the most effective ways of reading Kipper cards. This method however is hardly unique. It is to be found among many other types of cartomancy and even appears as a template for Rune casting. Its practicality and usefulness has stood the test of time and is the basis of the knowledge of any cartomancer worth their salt. It also happens to be a building block needed for constructing a Grand tableau – but more of that later.
In Kipper, the significator is usually pre-selected, picking either of the two main character cards, depending on the sex of the querent. This image is positioned in the center and the other cards are laid out around it in rows – the first three above the significator, the fourth and the fifth on either side of it in the second row and, in the third row, below the main card, three more in line.
Following this, the cards are read as they normally would be, with the first column, behind the significator representing the past, the one in the middle the present, and the one in front the future. Again, this is where directionality comes into play and reading for a male will be the mirror image of reading for a female, as it is dictated by the positioning of the characters. Thus, the Woman’s future is to our right, the Man’s to our left. Just pay attention to where each is facing and you should be fine.
One thing that remains a constant are the top and the bottom rows. The one above represents the querent’s thought process while the one below is their cold hard reality. But wait, aren’t we reading the same cards – namely those in the corners – twice or three times over now? Yes, we are.
Don’t be afraid to use the same card twice – once when reading the individual column and once when reading a horizontal line. This is where card combinations come into play and each is read as a part of a whole – no matter what whole – and not as purely individual. This “layering” will appear a bit awkward at first but is something one gets used to and, over time, it becomes second nature.
If additional clarity is required, diagonals may also sometimes be read -from the upper left corner to the lower right and from the lower left corner to the upper right – for the female – and the exact opposite for the male.
It is essential that you spend some time practicing before you move on to larger layouts. The nine card spread is excellent preparation for what lies ahead but must be mastered thoroughly before further steps are undertaken. The layout itself is likely to answer most of your pressing questions and is probably the one you will turn to most often but exploring farther and wider will also give you immense pleasure and open up your intuitive powers even more.