Cartomancy is card reading, whether those cards are Tarot cards, playing cards, Lenormand, Kipper, oracle, or something else entirely. Techniques abound - Tarot has its plethora of spreads together with storytelling techniques to link cards together. Lenormand and other traditional / folk systems have combinations, mirroring, knighting, and the like. These folk systems also use something called a tableau.
A tableau is essentially laying out all the cards in the deck in particular patterns, and reading it as a capture of a moment in a life. You can use a tableau to read anything, including multiple questions in a row without a need for additional spread or cards to be laid out. It can really useful in a face-to-face reading, as you can look and address questions as they come up. It's also great for remote readings, because you don't have to keep shuffling.
Of course, the tableau does come with a few downside. For one, it take a lot of time and space to lay down the whole deck, though I feel the time saved in multiple shuffles counters that a bit. It definitely needs to be indoors (or you need to have lots of rocks on hand) because it's one thing to chase down the Clover when the wind catches it, and another entirely to chase down the whole deck. By far and away though, the most difficult part of the tableau is how daunting it is. So many points of meaning are exposed, it's hard to know where to start reading.
Another post will address the basics of a tableau reading (and a few tweaks) but for now, I want to introduce you to a technique that may make that daunting tableau a bit easier to approach, and give you some skills that will make the process easier. Specifically, I want to introduce you to framing.
When you look at a tableau, it's essentially a big rectangle or regularly placed cards. Pick any two cards, and they define the two opposite corners of a square within that rectangle, as you can see from the rectangle in the table below, defined by the Crossroads and the Mountain. That square is the Frame. When you use a 3x3 or 9-card spread in Lenormand, that's a Frame too. The difference is in a tablau, you can look at LOTS of different frames, depending on what you're investigating. The frame is given to you in that 9-card layout, and if you have another question, you'll have to shuffle and lay out 9 new cards.
Hopefully, that gives you some ideas about how to read a Frame, if you've used that 9-card layout before. They're not TOO different. Still, you can get many more details from the tableau frame, so let's discuss!
The Other Corners
Your frame is defined by two cards. Generally, those cards are two cards that, when combined, describe the kind of information you're looking for. For the Crossroads / Mountain frame above, we might be looking for information about why all the client's choices seem blocked. If they're looking for information about whether their spouse is cheating, you can look to the frame defined by the Heart (or Rings or the Gentleman or...) and the Snake (or the Fox or... there are lots of traditions about which cards mean what in the Lenormand). Want to know if the contract will be in your favor? Frame with the Ring and Bouquet, maybe.
So you have the frame. What next? Well, start by looking at the other corners. In the 9-card layout, the diagonal corners are often considered the context of the situation, and that's the same here; the other corners provide a basic answer. In the context of X and Y, you are dealing with context A & B.
If you look at the 6x6 tableau above, you can see that if you look at the Crossroad / Mountain frame (the Green box), the other corners are the House and the Whip. There are many ways to read that, of course, but I might say that it's a standard, repeated event (Whip) at home.
The Frame Sides
If you're looking at the cheating spouse, look at the Snake / Heart frame (the red box). It's other corners are the Bouquet and the Anchor. It looks to me like yes,there's cheating, and its been going on for a long time - the Whip is often means sex, and it's between the Heart and the Anchor, the Lillies have been used for sex too, and they're between the Bouquet and the Snake. Actually, this is part of the technique - the cards between the corners define how the factors in the corners relate. Depending on context, the cards between the Heart and the Bouquet could be read a lot of ways, to describe how the relationship relates to the pleasure side of things. The Clouds, Stars, and Moon are all celestial events, so that says to me that it's been on the spouse's mind for a long time (Cloud), a lot of fantasies (Stars + Moon) have developed. You can look at the other parts of the framne from there.
The cards in the middle of the frame, if there are any, explain more details about what's going on within the situation, especially the ones that are being missed, as they're in the part where traditionally, you'd have glass to look through. There aren't always cards here (green box doesn't have any), but when there are, you can approach them as another spread and read for more details. In the context of our cheating spouse, we're looking at the Sun, the Birds, and the Mountain. Something's been blocked (the Mountain, of course), and that's what started the venture (Sun) out into cheating (Sun and Birds as chatting people up successfully)).
All Together Now
So let's look into whether that contract will be beneficial to our "querent". This is the blue box, framed by the Ring and the Bouquet. The other corners are the Clouds and the Garden - something is unclear about the social consequences of the contract. In the frames, we see a lot. There's a lot of deceit (Snake + Fox) by an older person, the contract's sitting in a box (Letter + Coffin). Stars and the moon indicate that hope is clouding clear vision of the benefits (Stars as hope and clear vision, Moon as fantasies about what's actually happening). The Rider between the House and the Mountain says there's not a lot of motion going to happen - Rider cant get past the mountain, so he's just sitting at home. All of that together says to me that it's a scam playing on your hopes.
In the middle, the pane of the frame, we have Sun - Gentleman - Tree and Birds - Book - Ship, To me, I'm seeing that this is definitely an international scam that's being communicated to lots of people (i.e. same contract is promised to lots of folks). It seems like it's about an inheritance especially since Tree is next to the Coffin.
The end result is that nothing will ever come of it, and the querent will just be string along by the sercretive gentleman at the center.
I've found it incredibly useful in so many readings, streamlining my ability to answer questions. With the careful application of the Frame technqiue, I've been able to handle the most difficult questions with ease, just by breaking it down into multiple frames for different aspects.
Let me know in the comments if this helped you, or if you have any questions.