Table of contents

1 >> Types of Spreads
2 >> A defence of Single Card readings
3 >> Clarification for Tarot readers

1. Types of Spreads

A "spread" is the pattern in which you lay out your cards for a reading. The following list is by no means exhaustive, but includes the most common Lenormand spreads:

>> Single Card: In a Single Card reading, one card only is used. Single Card readings are rare in Lenormand (>>here is why). I still included them here though because they require very little previous experience to work well and can be used as a stepping stone to all the other spreads - they are most suited for total beginners.

>> Strings: For String readings, multiple cards are arranged in one single row - most often 3 or 5 cards. Strings are comparatively concise; they are great at giving focused answers to what/how/ why questions; they can give clear input or advice regarding one issue. Strings are suitable for beginners who have started to practise the combination method. Here's an example of a 3-card String:

>> Small Tableaus: For Small Tableaus (I've also seen people call them just "Tableau", "Box Spread", or "Nine Card Spread"), multiple cards are arranged into a square made of a certain number of rows and columns - often, but not exclusively, squares of 3x3 cards. Small Tableaus tend to be quite complex, their conclusions usually less clear-cut, but also more multifaceted, than Strings. They are useful if you want to have a comprehensive look at a complex situation. Tableaus are not suitable for you if you haven't practised Strings yet. Here's an example of a 3x3 Tableau:

>> Grand Tableaus:For Grand Tableaus, all 36 cards are laid out, most often in 4 rows of 9 cards, or 4 rows of 8 cards plus 4 cards in a bottom row. Grand Tableaus are great if you want answers to several questions in just one reading, a synopsis of your life at present, or a good look at several different facets of one issue. There are a multitude of different techniques (often complementary) you can apply to Grand Tableaus, all depending on the question(s) asked and your personal preferences. Grand Tableaus are very complex, probably confusing for most beginners, and they can take a lot of time to read. I personally prefer them to Small Tableaus. Here is an example of a 4x9 Grand Tableau:

Other: Strings and (Grand or 3x3) Tableaus are the most common spreads by far. But you can find more spreads through a simple online search. Many of them are "just" variations or embellishments of basic Strings and Tableaus though - e.g. Double Strings. Others, although declared as Lenormand spreads, are really Tarot spreads. For such original Tarot spreads to work at all with Lenormand cards, you have to treat the Lenormand cards as if they were Tarot cards and do a Single Card reading for each position in the spread. Yes: You could certainly do that! But you'd then miss out on the innate strengths of Lenormand cards and techniques - please also see >> clarification for Tarot readers.

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2. Defence of Single Card readings

According to many Lenormand readers, Single Card readings cannot lead to satisfying answers. But as far as I can see, this is mostly due to the fact that Lenormand tradition requires readers to stick to very basic meanings for each card - in the form of a smallish selection of keywords. And it's indeed obvious that a simple keyword alone will rarely serve as a satisfying answer to a pressing concern. In this sense I agree. If you reduce your card meanings to a few keywords, Single Card readings will sorely lack depth. It is then indeed necessary to use several cards, and to apply the combination method, in order to create an in-depth interpretation. But if you enjoy going into depth with each single card, if you enjoy not just the keywords, but also the longer interpretations, the archetypes behind the symbols, then one single card can deliver plenty of inspiration, give you very meaningful, even profound, answers - even (or maybe especially) when you aren't a beginner anymore.

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3. Clarification for Tarot readers

If you started card reading with Tarot, you are probably used to a high number of available spreads with elaborate shapes in which each single position has a certain and fixed significance. So the limited range and simple layouts of Lenormand spreads will probably irritate you. But try to suspend your misgivings for the time being. Learn the Lenormand cards' individual meanings, and then the combination method, and then start experimenting with Strings and Tableaus. I can almost guarantee that by then you will already see why the limited range of shapes of Lenormand Spreads makes perfect sense. And you'll also realise that Strings and Tableaus are actually much more varied than they seem because of the multitude of techniques which can be applied to them.
See also the annakblogs article >> Lenormand vs. Tarot Basics - 2

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