Is There A Simple Way To Read A Grand Tableau?

One of my aims here at Lozzy’s Lenormand is to help my readers get used to the cards & game to become fluent Lenormand readers for whatever purposes they choose. But sometimes people can get a bit caught up in how “difficult” Lenormand supposedly is, and on first glance, some of the “official” layouts can indeed seem impossibly complicated. None more so than the mighty Grand Tableau, which, because of the number of cards, can seem intimidating, especially if you’re a beginner.

So what I’d like to do in this post is to try to demystify it all a bit, and get you thinking about the Grand Tableau in a simpler, more naturalistic way.

One thing to bear in mind is that when the original “Le Petit Jeu de Mlle Lenormand” was being played as a fortune-telling parlour game for entertainment, it is highly unlikely that all the players sat reading books, poring over complicated tactics, or analysing in detail every single card in its relation to every other card. That wouldn’t have been very fun or entertaining for everyone assembled would it? Instead, they tried to tell a ‘story’ about the other player’s fortunes based on the visual picture of the cards in front of them.

Now, those of you who have taken my Lenormand Card Meanings Course will know from that that the Grand Tableau or “Big Picture” is not necessarily quite as complicated as it looks. In that, I illustrate a lot of meanings, both modern and traditional, by showing them ‘live’ in a Grand Tableau.

And in this post, I’m going to be focusing on how to read the Grand Tableau in a simple, naturalistic and storytelling way. Just so you know, for ease, I’ll be using modern essence meanings (and won’t be using the traditional Near & Far technique).

My Tips For Starting To Read The Grand Tableau Simply And Naturally

Before we start, let’s look at the fundamentals, without which you will struggle. Here are the skills/knowledge I’d suggest you need as a minimum to be able to start doing this comfortably. You need:

  • A good basic understanding of ALL 36 card essence meanings 
  • An idea of how card images combine and influence each other. Remember: A card on the right influences a card to its left, cards above influence those below. (Note, this does NOT mean you need to ‘know all possible combination meanings! That’s neither possible or helpful a way to approach it)
  • You may also find it useful to have a broad understanding of Houses based on card meanings. Other techniques, knighting in particular, can be helpful for extra info, but don’t worry if you don’t have that technique down pat yet. You can still tell a good story without it.
  • The willingness to try to step back, without a book to hand, and just focus on what you are seeing visually.

So! Here are my Top 3 Tips for reading a Grand Tableau as simply and naturally as possible.

Tip 1: See The Grand Tableau As A Visual Snapshot Of Someone’s Life At A Given Point In Time

Rather than see the Grand Tableau as “a big scary Lenormand layout,” try, with a layout in front of you, to see it instead as a “life picture” – a person going about their life with various influences surrounding them, some of them close by and immediate, some of them further away with less influence. Possible life influences are of course represented by different Lenormand cards. And each of those influences will also be influenced by what’s around them, just as in life.

Tip 2: Remember You’re Telling Their “Story”

Your job as a reader is to tell the ‘story’ of that person’s life at a given point based on this snapshot. Your aim is to practice telling this story as naturally as you can from the influences you see around them. Try to do it WITHOUT using books or looking thing up; rather, practice getting the ‘feel’ of the story by just looking at the picture you are being shown.

Tip 3: Prioritise By Focusing On & Around The Querent

You can ‘prioritise’ the influences in this person’s story by focusing primarily on the Querent card and the influences (cards) immediately surrounding them in their life, then exploring more about those influences as you go. This will also help you ‘keep things natural’ in terms of storytelling.

Trying It Out: A Step By Step “Simple” Reading

So let’s try it out! Below is an example Grand Tableau for you.

I want you to imagine you’re playing the parlour game (so not with your head stuck in a book) and you’re going to base your ‘reading’ on the idea of visualising where your Querent is in life and telling a story about the influences around them.

First, choose either the Man OR Woman to be your Querent, and locate them in the spread below. Try to avoid ‘looking up’ combos; just spend a bit of time focusing on the visual picture in front of you, your Querent in particular,  where they are in the spread, what you actually SEE.

Lenormand Scythe Card Lenormand Birds CardLenormand Rider Card

Lenormand Letter Card        

Now ask yourself these questions, and see if you can answer them, step by step:

  • If the spread represents ‘the big picture’ of your Querent’s life at the time in question, what is your sense of where they are in relation to that  ‘big picture’ of their life: are they closer to the top or the bottom, for instance? Surrounded by lots of competing influences (cards) or with only a few immediately around them?
  • Do you think they are more influencing (standing above lots of cards) or influenced (with lots of cards above them) at this time?
  • If you know about card Houses, which “House” is this person currently standing in? Imagine the “house” is a stage for a play, if it helps. What kind of “play” would you say they this person is currently in?
  • Now  spend some time looking at what cards are appearing immediately around them. Consider the core essence meanings of these cards and what they’re telling you about the particular influences that are most important in the Querent’s life at at this time.
  • Notice the positions of these cards in relation to this person and in relation to each other. Which are they influenced by and which do they have influences on? If you can, from just looking at the cards immediately around them, try in your head to tell the most basic ‘story’ you can that seems to be immediately surrounding your Querent. Don’t rush ahead or try to get complicated. Spend a bit of time thinking about what you see here, what the simplest story seems to be.
  • You might find that you naturally start wanting more detail about one or more of these immediate influences (e.g if you have a Snake or Clouds or Cross “What sort of problem/darkness/suffering?” or the Letter, “What sort of news?”) Which cards are surrounding them? What other aspects of life do they seem to relate to? What additional details can you bring to your Querent’s story? Again, spend a bit of time thinking about what you see here, what the extra parts of the story might be. Start jotting down notes if you need to (or you can keep it in your head!)
  • Now take a look at the cards in the row, column and diagonals of where your Querent stands in the ‘big picture’ of their life at this time. Imagine that those to the left of the person are influences passing out of the situation, and those to the right, those coming up. And of course, the cards ‘above them’ that are influencing them, and those ‘below’ them, that they themselves influence. What story do they seem to be telling, and how does that relate to what information you already have?
  • Now see if you can put everything you have so far together to tell the complete ‘story’ of this person and all the main influences around them at this time. Try to make it as detailed as you can
  • BONUS if you know the ‘knighting‘ technique what additional info can you glean both about your querent and each of the main influences that surround them? How would you add them into their ‘story’?
  • Once you’ve had a good go at ‘reading’ this whole story, see how it compares to what I had



Now try laying out your own Grand Tableau, and follow the same steps again. What story are your cards telling you?


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5 thoughts on “Is There A Simple Way To Read A Grand Tableau?”

  1. Lozzy, Thank you so very much for this wonderful exercise!!! I am new to Lenormand and struggle with it. Even though I understand the card meanings, it’s not easy building the story around the cards for me. This has helped me immensely. I have to leave Tarot at the door, so that I can look at these cards in a different way.
    I also, love your book! I’m working my way thru it.

    1. That’s great to hear, Denise, thank you! I think stepping back and looking at it visually kind of ‘unlocks’ something, especially story-wise. So glad it’s helped.

  2. Great article, Lozzy. I love the image evoked when you reminisce about the parlours where they played the game of hope. The only problem I have is determining what card is what with the Lenormand cards that you used.

    1. Thanks, Faye. Re: the card images, these are the ones I created for this site and have been using here for several years now, so assumed most of my readers would be familiar! For reference, you can see them listed on the Lenormand Card Meanings page – the only image I changed at some point was the Scythe. If you have your own deck, you could try laying out the spread yourself and then trying the exercise again using those. Best wishes, Lozzy.

      1. Thank you, Lozzy. I did lay out my own spread and printed it out for reference when reading your interpretations. I found your article to be very helpful and it prompted me to do a spread of my own taking on a different attitude toward interpreting it – more relaxed and not placing too heavy a meaning to each card. Great stuff!

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