What will it be: 8 x 4 + 4 or 9 x 4? Maybe a 12 x 3? If you have searched for information on the Grand Tableau, you will have seen two or more variations. Chances are you are wondering which version is “best” or “correct.” Straight off, let me tell you no one version is better, and each version is valid.
Many Anglo-American cartomantes associate the Grand Tableau exclusively with the Petit Lenormand – often citing the cards’ origin as a racing game (Das Spiel der Hoffnung, or the Game of Hope). Tableaus or full boards predated the Game of Hope and were once a common feature of cartomancy. When the publishers began to issue the cards as the Petit Lenormand, they co-opted a standard reading method for stripped decks: an all-card tableau. Had they gone with the Game of Hope, the original instructions (the Philippe Lenormand sheet) would have preserved the racing game’s layout (six rows of six). They did not. Instead, they adapted the classical four rows of eight, adding a fifth row of four as the deck contained 36 cards.
As time has moved on different readers have laid the cards out in different patterns. The different variations are but a consequence of this development and personal preference. Here we will look at the three most common.
The Four Rows of Eight Plus Four
This is the classical full board, and these days, it is often referred to in English as the 8 x 4 + 4. It is the pattern I learned to read using.
Some cartomantes erroneously claim that this is the “French” version. However, this layout comes from the original instructions, which were German. It derives from the classical tableau of 32-cards that was laid out in four rows of eight cards. As the Petit Lenormand cards number 36-cards, a final row of four cards was added. Over time these have sometimes been given extra attention.
The Four Rows of Nine
In recent time, this variation has become quite popular. These days, it is often titled the 9 x 4. Most of my students prefer this version.
Sometimes this pattern it is said to be “German” school. In fact, its origins seem to lie in the French text: L’oracle Parfait. The text plagiarised a late eighteenth century text (Etrennes nouvelles de l’horoscope de l’homme et de la femme) and spuriously attributed the reading method it illustrated to Mlle Le Normand. That method is often referred to as the Master Method by Anglo-Americans.
The Six Rows of Six
Not as well known to Anglo-Americans, I know several Slavic readers who prefer this version. It is often referred to as a 6 x 6 and has been liked to a carré. Of course, it is also how the Das Spiel der Hoffnung was laid out.
The 6 x 6 appeared in several early 20th-century English-language cartomancy works. Often as a version of the Master Method referenced above.
Which version you choose is up to you. Each one has its fans and detractors. Experiment.
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