The 3×3 Lenormand spread, also called the box spread, picture spread, or square of nine, is a 9-card Lenormand spread that consists of three rows of three cards.
It's a popular spread that is found in many card reading methods, not just Lenormand. You may have seen it used before in Tarot, Petit Etteilla, or in a cartomancy reading using a deck of playing cards. After all, it's one of the most popular 9 card spreads.
Because it is such a widely used spread, there are many methods for reading it. Here, I will outline the method I use the most, and provide you with a few other methods that I have used as well. Choose whichever method you prefer.
When reading a Lenormand 3×3 spread, it helps to think of the spread as a mini-Grand Tableau because of the amount of information you can gain and the amount of time the spread can cover. You can use it whenever you want a straightforward answer to a question or when you want to a glance at the near-future (roughly 6 weeks).
The main difference between a Grand Tableau and the 3×3 spread is that the Grand Tableau covers many topics in great detail, while the 3×3 spread focuses on the primary circumstances affecting you.
The 3×3 spread isn't really a fast, specific answer kind-of-spread. I find a 5-card spread to be a better go-to spread for fast, specific answers because it is less time-consuming and gets right to the point.
Reading a Lenormand 3×3 Spread
1. Shuffle your cards while concentrating on your question, situation, or the overall outlook of the next 6 weeks.
2. Lay 9 cards out according to the diagram below.
3. Look to see how many negative or positive cards there are. This shows you the general tone of the spread and can give you insight into how things will turn out. As you can expect, the more positive cards, the better things will go.
4. Look at the central card (card 5). It typically represents the overall answer to a question or the overall theme for the next 6 weeks.
5. Read the columns.
- Column 1 (cards 1, 4 and 7) represents the past.
- Column 2 (cards 2, 5 and 8) represents the present.
- Column 3 (cards 3, 6 and 9) represents the future.
6. Read the rows.
- Row 1 (cards 1, 2 and 3) show what is on your mind.
- Row 2 (cards 4, 5 and 6) represents the present situation.
- Row 3 (cards 7, 8 and 9) indicates what you are in control of or what is already known.
7. Read the diagonals (cards 1-5-9 and 3-5-7). They give you more insight into what is influencing the situation and how things will pass. Honestly, I don't always find this step gives me that much additional information. Sometimes I think I only use it out of habit or in the off chance it will be extremely helpful, which will probably be the one time I don't use it. 🙂
8. Pick any cards that pop out at you or that you want more information about and knight them, similarly to how you knight cards in a Grand Tableau (e.g., card 1 knights cards 6 and 8, card 3 knights cards 4 and 8, card 2 knights cards 7 and 8, and so forth).
Other Methods of Reading Lenormand 3×3 Spreads
1. A common method for reading a 3×3 spread is to read all cards in combination with the central card: 1+5, 2+5, 3+5, 4+5, 5+6, 5+7, 5+8, and 5+9.
2. Often the Column 2 (cards 2-5-8) and Row 2 (cards 4-5-6) are read as a “cross” describing additional influences affecting the situation.
3. Cards 2-4-8-6-2 are read as a “diamond” to give additional insight into the spread.
I rarely use the “Cross” or the “Diamond” because I find the information provided by the cards is exhausted at this point, with the “Cross” and “Diamond” only repeating what is already known.
Example Lenormand 3×3 Spread
Mary wants to know what she needs to do to meet the man who will be her next relationship.
1. We see that there is a preponderance of positive cards in this spread, letting us know that Mary will meet a man and be in a relationship. Given the question of this spread, I would be inclined to also move the Man and the Ring cards from the neutral card category to the positive card category.
2. The central card is the Ring. This supports that the cards are answering the question and is a very nice card to see here as it strengthens that Mary will be in a relationship.
3. Reading the columns:
- Column 1 points to Mary meeting someone who lived some distance from her, perhaps even a foreigner. Because Column 1 represents the past, I would not read the Rider as indicating a new love interest coming into her life. Rather he may have been someone who was wishy-washy or unable to fully commit.
- Column 2 shows that Mary would like a relationship with a deep spiritual connection, but she needs to get out and take some chances. She really needs to commit to finding someone.
- Looking at column 3, we see problems with a man – confusion, uncertainty, deceit, maybe even another woman. There is a chance that the Snake is Mary since she is a dark haired woman who wears glasses, but since Mary is the querent, she'd more likely appear as the Woman.
4. Reading the rows:
- Row 1: It looks like the man from Mary's past might still be on her mind, but a second chance would be troublesome. Thus, the cards are suggesting that one of the things Mary needs to do to meet the man in her next relationship is to fully move on from the man in her past.
- Row 2: Currently, meeting someone new is challenging.
- Row 3: Either a business trip or a trip overseas will lead Mary to the Man who will be her next relationship.
- Rider-Ring-Man: Indicates a new relationship with a man
- Snake-Ring-Ship: Problems for a long-distance relationship
6. Knighting: Ship knights Clover and Clouds indicating that the trip may not be known at the moment and might occur unexpectedly. More cards can be knighted, but I don't think it will gain any new information.
So what does Mary do to meet her new man? She needs to move on from her ex – even if he were to come back, it wouldn't be a good situation. Mary needs to take some risks and get outside of her comfort zone. She needs to look outside of the area where she lives. She won't meet her new man in her current town, and maybe not even in the same country. When she does meet him, she still needs to keep her wits about her as things may not be everything they appear to be.
You can see how the 3×3 Lenormand spread repeats some information.
It's a great 9 card spread and more simple than a Grand Tableau, but I'd probably opt for a Grand Tableau if time permitted or a 5 card spread for a faster answer.