GRAND TABLEAUS & the houses technique

Please note that I describe only one possible approach to Grand Tableaus here - a technique called "Houses", adapted to how it works best for me. If you want to keep your readings strictly traditional you need to look for more traditionally minded instructions!

Table of contents

1 The layout of the spread

2 When Grand Tableaus are useful

3 How the Houses technique works
3.1 What the Houses are
3.2 What the Houses mean

4 Interpret the Grand Tableau by interpreting Houses
a) ... for a synopsis of your life at present
b) ... for input on several issues
c) ... for input on several fascets of one issue

5 Example readings
a) ... for a synopsis of someone's life at present
b) ... for input on several issues
c) ... for input on several fascets of one issue

1. The layout of the spread

For a Grand Tableau all 36 cards of a conventional deck are laid out, usually in rows of 4x9 cards or 4x8+4 cards. If you are reading with my deck, you could lay out some or all of the additional 4 cards, too. If you use all, you could make a Tableau of 4x10 cards, or 5x8 cards. If you use only some of my extra cards, e.g. the extra Lily, and the Wild Card, but not the second pair of Man and Woman, you could make a Tableau of 4x8+6 cards. Here are the layouts I myself prefer for 36 cards, and for 38 cards - but the other layouts works just the same:

9x4 (for 36 cards)

8x4+6 (for 38 cards)

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2. Grand Tableaus and the Houses technique are useful if:

you want a synopsis of what's going on in important areas of your life
you want input regarding several different issues at once
you want a look at several different fascets of one issue

Please keep in mind that Grand Tableaus might look impressive because of the sheer number of cards that are used and because of the multitude of techniques you can apply to them. But they don't necessarily also yield the best results. Especially if you want a concise answer to a pressing but simple question Single Card readings or Strings might be a much better choice.

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3. How the Houses technique works

3.1 What the Houses are: Imagine what your Grand Tableau would look like if all cards were arranged in the order of their numbering. In the very first position the Rider would be placed because he carries number 1. In the second position the Clover would be placed because it carries number 2, and in the third the Ship - and so on. Accordingly, the first position is where the Rider is "at home"; so this is the House of the Rider. The second position is the House of the Clover, and so on. In a conventional deck the very last position would be position 36, the House of the Cross. If you use my additional cards this also creates the need for additional Houses. I personally keep Sensual Lily in position 30 and place Virtuous Lily in position 37 because of its affinity to the Cross. If I use the additional pair of Man and Woman I assign them positions 38 and 39. The Wild Card I always put in the very last, final, position.

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3.2 What the Houses mean is easily defined: Each House represents the issues of the card which is "at home" there. For example: In the House of the Rider you find that which is new in your life, change that is coming towards you, things that are approaching or pressing you. In the House of the Clover you find chances you could grab, that which is easy for you at the moment, things which you don't take seriously (but maybe should). In the House of the Fish you will find business related issues, in the House of the Heart love related issues, and so on.
Now, when you spread a shuffled deck in the shape of a Grand Tableau of course the cards won't be placed in the order of their numbering anymore. Most won't lie in their own Houses but in other cards's Houses - and thus they modify, describe, qualify what is going on in these other Houses. One example:
Let's say that in the House of the Rider, the Whip is placed. This would tell us that what is new in your life has brought a lot of (internal or external) conflict; that a change that has happened or will happen is potentially destructive - or, you try to oppose it; or, that someone is using a very aggressive approach to you.

Note 1: There are different ways the Man's and Woman's Houses could be interpreted. I usually regard these Houses as the priorities of the people they represent - or as character traits, feelings, or actions, that are most dominant or relevant for them at present. One example:
The Clouds in the House of the Woman could mean that what dominates her feeling and thinking is something she has been hiding from others.
Note 2: If a card is lying in its own House, e.g. the Rider in the House of the Rider, you can either combine keywords of this card with other keywords of this same card (e.g. a change - keyword 1 - that has recently happened has put pressure - keyword 2 - on you). Or you can take it to mean that the issues this House represents are very, very dominant right now (e.g. there is a whole lot of change happening).

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4. Interpret your Grand Tableau by interpreting what's going on in the relevant Houses

a) For a synopsis of your life you need to know which Houses represent which areas of your life to you. I mention a few of the most popular ones below. But keep in mind that because the individual cards mean different things to different people, different people might also assign areas of life to very different Houses. Don't let that confuse you: The foundation for your Houses should be your understanding of the cards, even if that makes your Houses different than what I suggest below!
Also: For a synopsis of your life at present it is common practise to not look at all Houses. While this would certainly be possible it would make a reading extremely long-winded (and boring). So instead, people usually pick only those Houses which represent areas of life that are most imporant to them at the moment. The cards that are positioned in these Houses tell you what's going on in the corresponding areas of your life.
Houses many people pick include: the House of the House (for one's home life), the House of Heart (for one's love life), the House of Fish and/or Anchor (for one's work life), and the House of the Tree (for one's body). But other Houses could be just as important or much more so. E.g.: If you want to have a look at the state of your career you might pick the House of the Snake. If you're a university student you could have a look at the House of the Book (for your collegiate life). As a person who is actively creative you could check out the House of Sensual Lily. For your emotional life, you could take a peak at the House of the Moon. And so on.

Variation: A "reverse" search can yield rather surprising insights, too. With this method you start not with the Houses and the areas of life they represent but with specific issues, and see in which House/area of life they turn up in. Eg.:
You ask: "Where is conflict to be found?" and look in which House the Whip is placed - in this area of your life, there's some conflict. Or you ask "Which area of my life needs tidying up?" and go see in which House the Scythe is placed, or "Which area of my life is stagnating?" and find out where the Mountain is lying.

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b) For input on several issues, pick the Houses that represent these issues. The cards that lie in these Houses can be interpreted as input in the form of mere descriptions, or advice, or warnings, depending on how you phrased your concern and/or context or simply what's most useful. E.g.:
If you have a question about a friend, you will probably pick the House of the Dog; if the question concerns your boyfriend, the House of the Man. If another question concerns a weird sense of longing you've been feeling, you could pick the Stork. If you also want input regarding a journey and your plan to remodel your flat you might want to pick the Houses of the Ship and the Bouquet. And so on. If in the course of your reading you find that with one or more of your questions you would like more information than what the Houses alone are offering you can either do additional (and separate) String readings for each of these questions (which I personally prefer) or see Tip 2 below.

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c) For input on several fascets of one issue you pick Houses that represent relevant fascets of that one issue. E.g.:
Let's say you've asked for input on the violent rows you have been having with your parents. You'll definitely have a look at the House of the Whip (for the rows), possibly also at the House of the Letter (for your communication with your parents), the Virtuous Lily (the moral aspect of your rows / input on how to make peace), and the House of the Clouds (if/which misunderstandings are making the conflicts worse). You could also take a look at the House of the Bear (representing your parents as a unity) and/or the Houses of the second version of the Woman/Man (for your mother/father as individuals), as well as the House of the person card that represents yourself.

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Tip: You can check the House of the Wild Card, no matter what your question is, for a glimpse of the unknown factor, of something you've been missing.

Tip: There are other reading techniques you could use in addition to the Houses, to further specify, elaborate, your readings. I personally don't feel comfortable with them because they make no intuitive sense to me from a visual standpoint. So I haven't written about them (yet). But you can find them online easily through a simple search for "Knighting", "Diagonals", and "Mirroring".

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5. Example readings

1) Example reading of a synopsis of someone's life at present

Concern and context: The querent is a university student who is nearing graduation. She has a very close relationship with her parents, is single at the moment, and lives in a cheap one-person appartment. When asked what she wants from the cards she says that she would like an overview of her life, because she has been feeling a bit lost, vague, and thinks an overview would help her getting a clearer picture of where she is at the moment.

Cards drawn: I ask the querent if apart from her parents there are any people who stick out in her life particularly, and who she would thus want represented in the Tableau by an extra person card. She says no. So I use all 36 classic Lenormand cards plus my extra Lily and the Wild Card, but not the second Man and Woman.

Interpretation of the Houses: Usually, when someone asks for a general overview of their life, or mentions several areas of their life explicitly, I like to start with the House that represents that person themselves. But in this case the querent right at the beginning singled out one issue very explicitly: that she had been feeling a bit lost, vague. It's quite obvious to me that this bothers her and is likely the main motivation for her consulting the cards. This is why I don't start with the House of the Woman but with the House of the Clouds to have a look if it tells us a bit more about where her lack of direction comes from.

House of the Clouds: Dog. The Dog in the House of the Clouds suggests to me that the querent's feelings of vagueness and being lost could be caused by a lack of self-will; by her waiting for others to tell her what to do; and/or by her trying to satisfy other's expectations and setting aside her own desires when she feels others wouldn't approve. Of course after too long or too much of any of those three she would have started to lose her own sense of direction. The querent agrees especially with the latter of them, adding that it's mainly her parents whose appreciation she is trying to win.

Since she mentioned her parents I ask the querent if she would like to have a look at her relationship with them, and she says yes. Because her parents present a very united front to her I check the House of the Bear as representing her parents as a unity.

House of the Bear: Key. At first the Key in the House of the Bear seems strangely placed. But when I list the Key's keywords to the querent to find out if one of them makes sense to her in relation to her parents her eyes immediately light up when I say "deliverance" and then again when I mention "unguarded". When I ask her why that is she says that just the thought of being delivered from her parent's influence makes her feel so much lighter and less despondent, and that she has definitely been guarding herself too little against their subtle and not so subtle attempts to influence her.

For a little while we wonder whether it mightn't be a good idea to stop the reading here; the first two Houses already brought the querent a lot of food for thought. But she did ask for an overview of her life at present. So we decide to go through at least a few more of the Houses after all.
Since I would normally start with the House of the Woman, and since this House fittingly - a propos her concern! - represents the querent's priorities, what's on her mind or heart the most, what's most dominant at the moment, we proceed there.

House of the Woman: Rider. The Rider in the House of the Woman is interesting because it is very ambivalent. It could hint at the querent's life being dominated by feeling pressured (she immediately says that this is true, and it's also what the situation with her parents already suggested). But since the querent is a student who is nearing graduation the Rider also hints at the change that is soon going to enter her life. The querent decides that both interpretations are true, and that they are related to each other as well. For not only does she feel pressured by her parent's expectations. She also feels pressured by the rapidly approaching end of her studies and the many decisions that will soon have to be made regarding her future.

This leads us to two more Houses I was planning to have a look at in any case: the Houses of the Book (representing the querent's studies) and the Scythe (representing the approaching end of this phase of her life).

House of the Book: Garden. I admit I've always had some difficulties interpreting the Garden; its meanings seem very technical to me. So I again refrain from attempting an interpretation myself but list the keywords and ask the querent if any of them make any sense connected to her studies. She suggests that yes, networking, and teamworking do, as basially all her social life takes place in public university settings, in big groups like seminars and study groups. A bit sheepishly she admits that she already knew that this is a problem; that she should find other, and more intimate ways, to connect with other people, and outside of the university context. (Interestingly, the Bouquet in the House of the House, for her home life, had suggested to me earlier on that opening her private life to visitors is either something the querent already does or is something she should be doing more.)

House of the Scythe: Mice The Mice in the House of the Scythe strongly hint that for the querent, graduation is not a positive thing. She says immediatley that even the thought of her studies being over makes her feel unwell; it feels like graduation is arriving much too quickly. I suggest that this maybe is another reason for her feelings of vagueness and being lost: She has to work towards graduation but doesn't really want to because she doesn't want this phase of her life to end. No wonder she doesn't feel movtivated.

At this point of the reading I suggest that we don't look at any of the other areas of her life. I feel that there's already been more than enough important information that relates quite directly to what bothered her to begin with: her feelings of vagueness, of being lost. Instead, I suggest that we do a Reverse Search for where she could look to recover her sense of direction, her motivation. Because the querent is very happy with that idea I look in which House the the Snake is located.

Snake in the House of the Fox. This is so blatant, so obvious, it makes us laugh. The Snake in the House of the Fox very clearly says that the querent can recover her motivation, her drive, her sense of direction, in doing what she wants, in not letting herself be influenced by others (especially her parents) any longer. She has to find out what she wants, what nourishes her, what is essential for her, irrespective of what her environment might think of it.

All this is indeed obvious, the querent says. But obvious as it is, she also doesn't quite know what to do with it now. She says she simply doesn't feel capable of following her own path, of doing what is good for her against other people's expectations. So, as the final piece of the puzzle, we have a look at the House of the Wild Card.

House of the Wild Card: Virtuous Lily. Virtuous Lily in the House of the Wild Card suggests that a factor the querent hasn't considered yet is how much her moral values influence her situation. So I propose to the querent to have a good think about how her moral values contribute to her lack of drive, and to feeling so pressured. Maybe, for example, she doesn't allow herself to choose her own path, follow her own desires, because deep down she either believes that chosing her own paths per se would be immoral, or, that the path she would like to follow is immoral. Changing her moral code might change a lot of her outlook on her options in life, too. (Interestingly, a quick look at House of Virtuous Lily, for her moral life, seems to confirm this, as the Whip in this House shows that there is a lot of moral guilt and shame going on in the querent's life.)

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Example reading for dealing with several issues at once

Coming soon.

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Example reading for several different fascets of one issue

Coming soon

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