The best way to get a constructive answer from a tarot reading is to ask a well-phrased question. Often the cards provide woolly answers with not enough detail, or confusing and contradictory advice. The problem isn’t in the cards, the imagery or even the reader’s interpretation. It’s because the right tarot question wasn’t asked.
Of course, occasionally you do want a simple, straightforward yes/no answer. To deal with those it’s a good idea to go right through your deck with a notebook to hand and make a list of the cards you feel give affirmative answers and a list of the ones that say ‘no’. See Yes or No Tarot for our suggestions. Remember, of course, that the answer you get will be limited because the question itself is limited.
Tarot Reading – the Situation
The first step in constructing a good tarot question is to know the situation. Many clients think that they have to keep quiet and it is the reader’s job to retrieve the information from the cards. That can be done, of course – some readers prefer not to know too much about the seeker. However, what a waste of good reading time – it’s entertainment, pure and simple. What’s the point of telling the seeker what she already knows? How much better would it be if the client lays out her situation so that the tarot can get to work on offering valuable insight and advice?
One way to get round a cautious client is to do a ‘pre-reading spread’. Explain that you, the reader, need to know the energies surrounding the client. Use one, two or three cards, depending on the time available. Your question for this pre-reading will always be the same. “What are the influences and energies surrounding XXX at this time?”
Explain to the seeker you need their input and explanations to get the best out of the cards, and that this will help you both during the main part of the reading. Adopt an easy, reassuring manner as you explain the meaning of the card/s and the client should feel comfortable enough to open up and tell you what is happening.
Once you have a handle on the situation, you can formulate the question for the main reading. Use paper and pen to help you. Your client will be pleased to be involved in the process.
Formulating the Tarot Question
The golden rule is to always ask an open question. Preferably one that can lead to other questions. An open question is one that can’t be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. They usually begin with ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘why’.
Also avoid questions that begin with ‘will’, ‘should’, ‘when’ or ‘how long’.
Examples of Effective Tarot Questions
You can copy this list, add to it, print it out and keep it near the place you do your tarot readings.
- What do I need to know about…?
- How do I deal with…?
- What advice can that tarot give me about…?
- What is the lesson I need to learn about…?
- What resources do I have available to me?
- What am I not understanding about…?
- What obstacles do I need to overcome?
- What limitations am I imposing on myself?
- Which direction am I headed?
- Can you tell me the options available?
- What can I learn from my past mistakes?
- How can I help XXX with…?
- What is the source of my current issue?
- How do I deal with my fear of…?
- What is distracting me from…?
- What do I need to focus on at this time?
- What will I need to focus on in the near future?
- What am I avoiding?
- What am I resisting?
- What do I need to let go of?
- What do I need to accept? How do I accept it?
- What emotional block is holding me back?
- What is XXX’s influence in my situation?
- What is hidden from my view?
- Why do I feel this way?
- How can I get past this current situation?
- How do I solve my dilemma?
- What are the things beyond my control?
- What are my inner strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What do I need to do to find love?
- What do I need to know about this relationship?
- How can I best direct my career path?
- What’s the best way to end this…?
- How do I set boundaries?
- What’s the best strategy for dealing with…?
- How to know if I am being manipulated?
- What is hindering my judgment?
- How do I start uncovering the truth?
- What message does the tarot have for me?
- How can I change my career?
- How will I recognize my soul mate?
- How do I prepare for…?
- Help me to know how to tell XXX
- How am I being deceived?
- What’s the best way to interact with XXX?
- Why am I acting this way?
- Why do I always…?
- How can I change my behavior?
- What do I need to do to improve my financial situation?
- What is the good in this situation?
- What can I take forward from all this?
You can see that the possibilities are endless. One question will suggest another, which leads us to…
In her blog post, “The Art of Asking Powerful Questions in Your Tarot Readings”, Brigit (Biddy Tarot) advises examining possible follow-up questions. By doing this, she says, you easily and without effort create a perfect customized tarot spread.
A good way to do this is to begin with one question, formulate your own, or take one from the list above. Draw as many cards as you need to answer it and lay them in a row. We recommend no more than three. As the next question naturally arises from the answer, draw the next card or cards and lay them below the first row. It’s a good idea to keep a note of the questions and cards as you go. In this manner you will build up a comprehensive reading with an easy to follow thread for the client – or for yourself.
Creating a useful reading is an art. Your aim is to present information to your client in an understandable and usable way. Building it around the tarot question is the best place to begin.
Images: Songs for the Journey Home.