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How to Read Nine-Card (Portrait, Box or 3x3) Lenormand Spreads

By Tina Gong


The process of learning to read Lenormand is a gradual one and depends on a committed approach, taking each building block and putting it in its right place before proceeding further. To be able to interpret the Grand Tableau, smaller spreads must be tackled first and not one is perhaps more important than the Nine Card Spread.

Occasionally referred to  as the “portrait spread" or the “box spread", it is the ultimate building block for any larger layout. It essentially consists of three lines of three lenormand cards but is oh so much more than that. It can be read in many different directions and offer more information than you'd ever expect from nine simple images.

The Central Card of the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread

The Central Card of the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread

Like with the Line spreads that we saw earlier, there is the idea of a central card (5) in the 9-Card spread as well. The significance is similar - it represents an underlying theme that surrounds the reading. It can be either the significator (describing the person the reading is done for) or the core of the question, its essence, answer and outcome. For example, if we draw the Fish card for this card, we know that the main theme that surrounds this reading is finances.

Reading the Corners of the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread

Reading the Corners of the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread

Corner cards (1, 3, 7, 9) are also good to glance over at the very beginning to determine the context (the "frame") of the reading and give it structure. You can choose to read this either as an big “X” with 2 pairs at opposite corners, or go around the corners clockwise.

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Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Horizontally

Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Horizontally

The first line (1-2-3) is that of thought. It deals with our ideas, dreams and aspirations, with what is "above" us and what we aim for. The second line (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. You can sort of think about these as the conscious, reality, and unconscious, respectively.

Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Vertically

Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Vertically

The second step in interpreting a 3x3 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 spread doesn't venture beyond the one month mark and is ideal for short-term predictions. It gives a general overview and some deeper insight into the matter. This makes it ideal for current affairs, day-to-day situations, big events (especially exams, business interviews and their outcomes etc.).

Mirroring within Nine-Card Lenormand Spreads

In addition to reading the cards horizontally and vertically, we can also include one of the techniques we learned from dealing with the Three Card Spread and the Line of Five or Seven. 

Mirroring is the name of the game and it comes in handy because there is plenty of opportunity for it. 1 can mirror 3, 4 opposite 6, and 7 can go with 9. This gives us even more room for interpretation than we hoped for. But that is hardly the end.

Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Diagonally

Reading the Nine-Card Lenormand Spread Diagonally

The Nine Card Spread also brings in two new features (as if the above mentioned ones weren't enough). The first is the concept of diagonals (in this case 1-5-9 and 7-5-3) which carry with them a sense of movement and give the whole reading a direction in which the situation may be moving. If helpful, you can consider these diagonals to represent either influences, or possibilities.

Phew! I know this is quite a lot. For the purposes of documentation, you may find this useful to consult all the possible techniques in one post - but in practice, there is no need to read the cards in every exhaustive manner! All of this, once learned by heart and practiced to perfection, will make us well prepared for any larger spread we may encounter. 

How to Read Nine-Card (Portrait, Box or 3x3) Lenormand Spreads - Full Article and Infographic explaining all card positions and methods

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  • Frank Tsoukaris
    Sorry hope this is seen! New to Lenormand and I love using your cards for it especially. I have gotten mixed messages in reading a 9 card. Can it or can it not be read as a general spread? The above techniques are they combined all together for a specific theme if used with significator or needs a specific question? Thank you so so much!
  • Tina
    @ Fabrício yes! There is! It feels like something a little more detailed so I wanted to create another post on it. :)
  • Fabrício Franco
    There’s also the possibility of knighting too, isn’t there?

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