I've been reading professionally and non, off and on, for over 35 years, and in that time, I've learned a lot of things I'd like to share with you all. The first of those is what I consider the single most important rule of all when it comes to reading.
If you have learned to read the Lenormand Fox as intelligence and wisdom and cunning, read it that way consistently. It doesn't mean deceit, and it doesn't mean escape (unless it's escape by being intelligent), and it doesn't mean a cheater or disloyalty or anything else. It means intelligence for you, and you should be consistent in reading it that way.
Except! Sometimes, the symbolic can be superseded by the literal. Sometimes, that Fox card means a literal fox, or red hair, or running quickly, or being chased. Even in these cases, your interpretation will be consistent, because those tie directly to the card itself. You're not going to suddenly say "Green!" or "Mongoose!" because the symbol on the card has nothing to do with those.
Your intuition, the question, the context, and many other potential factors will influence which meaning of the Fox you use, but those meanings are all consistent with the symbol on the card. If you remain consistent, then you will quickly build a strong language to communicate with, and your readings will become more accurate.
But Sometimes, I Have an Insight
There is no doubt that some people have insights and intuitions when reading, and a lot of books (and readers and wenbsites and videos and... ) mention the fact. A lot of people feel you should always trust those intuitions over what the cards (or runes or bones or...) are showing you, and go on to give very good reasons why you should do that. I have a thought about that.
So, it's not that you shouldn't trust your insights, visions, and what have you. You absolutely should. But that doesn't mean you should trust them unconditionally. It's really easy to get stuck in your head, in your own interpretation or daydream that has no relationship to reality, or generally just get it all wrong. The cards are tools that keep you grounded in the World so that you don't get lost in a rabbit hole following some interpretation that's way off track.
A decent reader is one who can mediate between the practical and the ethereal, and who can ground their visions in reality and explore all the possibilities of the cards. What that means, in terms of consistency, is that you should take that insight and determine how it is represented in or impacts the situations laid out in the cards in front of you.
Suppose you're reading some Tarot cards for a friend who wants to know about her relationship. You draw the Devil and the 3 of Swords - which are traditionally NOT a good sign for a relationship. But you have a really good feeling nonetheless, your intuition says that good things are happening, so you ignore the cards, and just go with the intuition.
And then later learn that she dumped the controlling bastard and was having heart-broken second thoughts about taking him back. For months, she second guessed her own worth, struggled with depression, and generally had a hell of a time. What gives? Where's that happy intuition you had? Why were you so wrong?
Consistency - Keep to the meanings of the cards, and don't ignore what they say. Figure out how your intuition fits in with what's before you.
Eventually, you might learn that after all those months of agony, your friend emerged from the other side much stronger, confident, and happy. She'd been through the wringer and was forced to find her own self-appreciation. You were right, but by ignoring the cards in favor of your intuition, your description of events left out some significant details, and left your friend without preparation or understanding of what was coming down the line.
What's So Great About Consistency?
The thing here is that your system is a language that describes the world. More specifically, it's a language of just so many words that has to describe the ENTIRE UNIVERSE and everything in it. 78 cards to describe space shuttles and microbes and polyamorous body modifcation experts. Just 24 runes to describe carburetors and acrylic paint and PCOS. And so on - each system has a limited set of "words" unique to itself that have to be enough, somehow, to communicate about everything that can possibly happen.
Now, imagine that same list of words, but feel free to ignore the meanings whenever you want. If you're communicating with someone (The Universe? Spirits? Ancestors? Who knows?), won't it be ridiculously more difficult if you don't use those words consistently?
You're talking to someone about their friend in a relationship, and they use the word that means "tied up". If you just decide on a whim, or because a thought popped into your head, or because you don't like difficult situations, or a little birdy told you it actually means "Happy Times!" - you're not communicating.
Consistency means those words will have the same meanings - or cloud of meanings - every time you use them. Even if you're not communicating with someone else, and it's just you and yourself, you should still be clear and consistent. You can't describe a light switch if you can't even use the words consistently - no one, including your own self, can trust that those words mean what they originally thought.
So what do you do?
Take those insights and visions and gut feelings, and figure out where they fit among the cards or runes or stars before you. Maybe they describe the particular face of a card or combination - your intuition that the job will work out is reflected in the Mice, who will eat away the problems slowly over time, a different picture than the usual understanding of the Mice in Lenormand, but it is still very appropriate - consistent, even - to the vision you had.
It's important to recognize too that sometimes, those visions might not be for the person you're reading for, or apply to an entirely different situation, or are details about a more important question that hasn't been asked. Be honest with your client and yourself, as you may be able to sort out what other information is coming through, and do it without setting aside the reading in the cards.
Sometimes the intuition you have will fall in between the cards. You've pulled your past, present, and future cards from this oracle deck, and you're ready to start explaining why things are going south with your aunt. You have a sudden vision of whispers and gossips, but the cards only show change, isolation, and joy at the end.
It seems likely that the change has been caused by those gossips, don't you think? That whispering campaign resulted in the isolation and the issues you've been having, but clearly, you'll get past it and back to the joyful relationship you used to have. Here, you had more insight into the start of things, which wasn't in the cards, but doesn't ignore or contradict them.
This is the Oracula Deck - one version of it anyway. It's the system I created to go with my book on creating your own divination system. I've actually been using it for quite a while, and which symbols are used for which token* have changed several times. I'm working on something more appropriately royalty free (this deck samples and modifies photos from all over the interwebz), which will eventually be available for sale. I thought I'd share a photo though, just to inspire. More inspiriing me to keep on it, but if you enjoy too, great!
This is a Table - all the cards in a spread for reading multiple questions or complex situations in one go. It's essentially a snapshot of someone's life, and Lenormand readers will know it as a Grand Tableau.
* The Symbol is the image, the Token is the meaning and/or the physical manifestation. So the token is a card and also "Work" and associated meanings, and the symbol is the Bee.
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.