While the Nine Square may be both traditional and extremely versatile, it can be exciting to start spreading your net a little wider, without going all the way to a Grand Tableau. Most of the reading techniques that work with the Nine Square, and those that work with the Grand Tableau, will also work with a 5 by 3 pattern.
For example, you can read the central card as the heart of the question, and the corners as the theme. You can read each of the three rows as a line of five, giving some positionality to the top, centre and bottom rows. The columns can be treated as distant past, past, present, near future, more distant future. And you could also bring in diagonals, mirroring, and knighting, as well as Houses and following a thread, if you wanted.
Let's take a look at an example reading. This throw was done for a woman who is struggling with marketing her
At the centre is the Chickens: social communication. The corners (Heart, Holly Tree, Mountain, Letter) speak of
emotional endurance of written obstacles. This fits with an issue that
she has had in the past with social media. However, as a theme this suggests that the lesson here is to overcome these issues, because networking, social media, and just getting her message out there really is fundamental to marketing her business.
In support of this, the
central line (Key, Book, Chickens <Birds>, Ring, Stars) suggests that the key to this project is committing to
social communication, particularly online. Mirroring tells us that although this is about business, if she maintains her commitment to following her spirit, she will find far deeper insights: it's not just about the money, which doesn't show up anywhere in this spread!
At a more head-based
level (top row: Heart, Flowers, Rider, Man, Letter), she needs to find a balance between emotion and logic in the
creative messages she sends out, using writing as the way to express
these. Mirroring here says that while her writing needs to be emotional in its content if it is to move anyone, she also needs to temper her creativity with strategy if she's to make her messages as powerful as they can be. While this may be more of a stretch for her, it is vital to moving forward, with this "male" energy apparent in both the Male Rider and the Man in present and near future positions.
Yet, what lies under her control (bottom row: Mountain, Cross, Storks, Anchor, Holly Tree) is the ability to create
progress and change through dealing with life lessons that have blocked
her in the past. She has the capacity to find a way to work that will
be growthful for her business and leave those past issues behind. This may take work over time (Anchor, Holly), which supports the message of the Ring just above them.
In the present column (Rider, Chickens, Storks), social messages really are the way to create change and progress. In the two future columns we have (Man, Ring, Anchor)
committing to a rational way of proceeding with work and (Letter, Stars, Holly) taking a
long view guided by writing down her plans. This is something she has
shied away from in the past, working intuitively, rather than
strategically. The last column also suggests online writing, such as
blogging, as a way to draw together all aspects of herself and her
Overall, the message here is that she may need some support to deal with the emotional side of things which has been stopping her from moving forward. She has all the capacities she needs to overcome these now. To do so, she needs to put social communication at the centre of her focus, take a strategic perspective, and get writing!