Nine-card Lenormand ‘Portrait’ spread (3×3)

The process of learning to interpret the Petit Lenormand is, for most people, a slow one. No divination system is something you can expect to become a master of overnight. Instead, work and dedication are needed, as well as a patient, step-by-step approach. Since we’ve already covered the three- and the five-card spreads, the next stepping stone on our journey to mastery is the so-called ‘Portrait’ spread. Sometimes also referred to as the ‘Box’, it is the ultimate building block for any larger layout. You can easily imagine the Grand tableau itself comprising of many small Portraits. This simple spread essentially consists of three lines of three but is so much more than that. It can be read in many different directions and offers more information than you’d ever expect from nine simple images. But let us start at the beginning.

The first line (1-2-3) is that of thought. It covers our ideas, dreams and aspirations, what is “above” us, and what we aim for. The second line of cards (4-5-6) belongs to reality, to our current state, our day-to-day life – either the pickle we’ve gotten ourselves into, or the blissful existence we so very much deserve. The third, bottom line (7-8-9) is the undercurrent shaping the situation, the foundations it stands on – what is below us, where we come from and what baggage we’re dragging with us. In such a spread, the card in the center (5) will be either the significator (describing the person the reading is done for) or the core of the question, its essence, answer and outcome. Whether you pre-select the significator or allow any random card to fall in this place is up to you. Bear in mind that this will largely determine the direction your reading will take.

The second step in interpreting a 3×3 spread is determining the time frame – what has come to pass and what stands before us. The first column consisting of cards 1-4-7 belongs to our past. 2-5-8 represents our present. 3-6-9 signals what awaits us in the near future. Usually, this particular type of layout doesn’t venture beyond the one month mark and is ideal for short-term predictions.

The 3×3 spread also brings with it a couple of new features. In addition to previously mentioned mirroring (where 1 can mirror 3, 4 opposite 6, and 7 can go with 9), now we can also read the cards diagonally. This new method is impossible in layouts that follow a straight line. It is normally done from the upper left corner to the lower right (1-5-9) and from the lower right to the upper left (7-5-3), following the direction and the chronological progression of the reading itself. Another technique (one that is commonly employed at the very beginning of the interpretation) is to consult the corner cards (1, 3, 7, 9). They are good to glance over to determine the context (the ‘frame’) of the reading and give it structure. Again, all of these ideas (and some others) will be useful once you decide to tackle larger spreads that follow.