Overwhelmed By The Grand Tableau? 6 Ways To Read It

Now, the fantastic thing about the Grand Tableau is that it contains a ton of information.

The un-fantastic thing about the Grand Tableau is…. that it contains a ton of information!

Potentially way too much to deal with or get your head around. It can be overwhelming.

So what different ways are there of dealing with all that?

First of all, one thing worth remembering about the Grand Tableau is that you don’t HAVE to utilise all the possible methods and you don’t HAVE to go into detail with every single card. At the same time, you can if you want to.

I’d recommend trying different methods and techniques out for yourself and settling on what works best for you personally, and what you’re most comfortable or happy with. Here are some different options you may choose for reading your own Grand Tableaus in order to be able to handle all that potential information.

Different Options For Reading A Grand Tableau

1. Just Use An Overview Method

An overview is a great way of just getting the overall picture of the cards and the main events your spread is talking about. In my step by step Grand Tableau instructions, you can see that I usually start off with the ‘overview’ method of looking at the cards in the rows and the columns to tell a basic story around all the cards and their relation to one another.

  • For each row and column, I read the cards in pairs, both in a chain, from left to right and top to bottom respectively, and by mirroring them (first card in the row paired with last in the row, second in the row paired with second last in the row etc)

Personally, I have found that the columns especially, read in order from left to right  seem to give a particularly useful picture of the main events going on. In my own readings, I actually often start with the columns first, to give a grounding to the reading. I assume also that, time-wise, the influences in the first column are earliest, the second column, what happens next, and so on.

HOWEVER be aware that if you just do this, although it’s a great way to get a broad overview, you’ll miss out on a lot of potentially useful information and detail. It’s a very ‘light’ way of reading the cards.

2. Just Focus On The Querent Card

The cards around and associated with the Querent card are usually the most significant in any reading as they point to any immediate influences

So, as many readers do, you could just choose to focus on these and these alone:

  • The cards immediately around the Querent. You can read these with the Querent in the middle as if they are a 9 card spread (although depending on the position of the Querent card in the spread, you may not have all nine cards.)
  • Focus purely on the rows and columns the Querent card appears in, and read them as a chain (Rana George, for instance, takes this approach, in the main). You can also read the diagonals. Cards ‘behind’ (to the left of) the Querent are past influences. and ‘ahead’ (to the right of) are future influences.
  • Then, for a little more detail, check what House your Querent card appears in, along with the Mirroring and Reflecting cards, as well as the cards that are Knighting your Querent. Check the following posts to learn more about Lenormand Houses and Reflection, Mirroring and Knighting techniques.

On the minus side, you still might be missing out on some useful information.

3. Add Detail Only On Life Areas You’re Interested In

I would always recommend focusing on the Querent card initially, but you can then add to that by exploring in detail any other life area you’re interested in. So, for example, the House card for domestic matters, the Heart for your love life, the Bear for your finances and general security, for example, the Fox for career, the Fish for business… whatever you want to know more about.

Again, you can dive deeper using the following methods:

  • The cards immediately around the card of interest, say, the Heart for love. You can read these as if they are a 9 card spread (although as above, you may not have all nine cards.)
  • You can also explore the cards that fall in the House position of the life area you’re interested in e.g. for love, what card is appearing in House position 24, the House of Love?
  • Again you can look at rows and columns and diagonals your card of interest appears in, and read them as a chain.
  • Then, for a little more detail, check what House your card of interest appears in, along with the Mirroring and Reflecting cards, as well as the cards that are Knighting it.

4. Systematically Read All Cards In Order

Now, this is a very time-consuming method, but it does ensure that you include every single possible card and every single possible life area and ALL the possible bits of information.

Starting with the first card in the spread, systematically read the detail around every single card, noticing its relationship to other cards, and its House, Mirroring, Reflecting and Knighting cards. You can see an example of me doing this here, in my UK Grand Tableau reading as well as in my  Sample Year Ahead Full Grand Tableau Report.

Personally, I find this seems to work better if you start with Card 1 and then move down the columns rather than along the rows. It creates more of a cohesive ‘story’ time-wise instead of jumping about.

However, the disadvantage of reading a GT this way is that it still doesn’t prioritise what the most important areas are; instead it gives them all equal weight, which may not reflect reality.

So here’s another method to better address that:

5. Create A Story For The Cards By Following The Path THEY Lead You Down

To my mind, this is probably the best and most cohesive method. It can look at everything if you want, so is still very intensive (and can be time-consuming!) but prioritises and explores what you or the person you’re reading for is focused on or most interested in. Once you’ve got the main areas covered, you then deepen your understanding of those areas by exploring where the cards themselves within those areas lead you. Think of it like following a trail of breadcrumbs.


Okay, here’s an example.

  • Say you’re reading a Grand Tableau and you start off by focusing on the cards around your Querent card, as above.
  • You go into all the detail, reading all the cards around the card and then looking at the House, the Mirrored Cards, the Reflected cards, the Cards Knighting and so on.
  • So from that, you’ll get a ton of information about the Querent. You might find out from the knighting cards, for instance, that there’s a decision to be made (Crossroads, Scythe), or there’s a big piece of luck that happens (Clover).
  • Well, now you get to find out more about those aspects. What is the decision about? What is the big piece of luck?
  • To answer those questions, you just follow the trail. You can now look at the cards around the Crossroads or the Scythe or the Clover, what house they’re in and what is mirroring, reflecting and knighting them.
  • From that, you might find another big clue, another breadcrumb. Say from reading around your Clover card, you discover that this happens in a social setting or at an event (Garden). So you want to find out more about this event. What do you do?
  • Yep, read around the Garden card, and see what House it falls in, what cards are mirroring, reflecting and knighting it, and so on and so forth.

This way, you are likely to be able to capture most of the important cards in detail, but you prioritise them naturally in the story, and see how things interconnect with different life areas. This way, you’re not wasting time on anything that’s not particularly important.

The beauty of it is, you can use the exact same method to ‘follow the trail’ of any life area you or someone you’re reading for is interested in.

So these are the main options for reading the Grand Tableau using the reading methods I  have learned over the years and use personally.

However, you might want to bear in mind that “my way” is not the only method of reading the Grand Tableau itself.



As Yoda might say, “There is another Skywalker…”

6. Use The “Traditional” aka “Philippe Lenormand” Method of Reading

You may or may not be aware that when Johann Hechtel’s original Das Spiel Der Hofnung (Game of Hope) cards were re-marketed and renamed as Lenormand cards in the mid 1800s after the famous French fortune teller, they came with a set of instructions purportedly from a descendant of Mlle Lenormand herself, one “Philippe Lenormand.”

Now, be aware that is highly unlikely that this really was a descendant of Mlle Lenormand or anything more than a marketing ploy by the manufacturers of the cards. There is little evidence of any actual connection (hence I am always wary about absolute One True Faith type methods of reading Lenormand or the adherents of those.)

However, the instructions involved were what was published with most Petit Lenormand decks ever since, and are quite specific, both about card meanings and methods of reading.  Be aware that these are rather different from what many readers, myself included, use today. They also really are the only ‘original’ instructions (given Hechtel himself didn’t say very much about how to use the Game of Hope for fortunes, just to “create a pleasing story”,) but if you are a purist or a traditionalist, you may want to try out this traditional method.

I will be covering the “Philippe Lenormand” method of reading in a later post, along with some caveats about how “pure” or “traditional” we really can be when we are talking about cards that are in reality something of a mish-mash between different folk card and symbol reading traditions.

That said, it is worth knowing about so you can choose whether this works for you or not. Until next time…


Do You Need More Guidance?

Go to my Lenormand Tips page for more tips about common issues and problems.

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