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How to Phrase Tarot Questions

by James Rioux

The question you ask of the Tarot reader is paramount in determining the response the Tarot cards give you. In mathematical terms, the accuracy of the answer is a function of the accuracy of the question. The most precise your question, the more precise of an answer you will be given. If your question is vague and general the answer will be likewise; if there are many details in the question, expect a very detailed response.

Of course, your mindset at the time you formulate the question is important as well. If you are nervous and anxious, even if these feelings have nothing to do with the question at all, the Tarot cards will give you an answer that is jumpy and erratic; an answer that is consequently harder for the reader to interpret. A clear mind is useful. This does not mean that you have to practice Yoga or meditate before asking a question, though I suppose it could not hurt! All you really have to do is let go of your worries for a few moments...and ask.

It must be said that belief is an essential component in the formulation of a good question. You must believe not only that the Tarot can give you an answer, but that it will. Without this belief, the whole operation is void. You must also be willing to at least consider the advice given to you by the reader, and not dismiss it as the ravings of a deluded fool. The Tarot only works for those who are willing to listen. An interpreter will interpret only if there is someone for whom to interpret; otherwise they stay silent. If you do not want to be helped then there is no way the Tarot can help you.

So if you want to be helped, and you believe that you will get an answer, you are ready to ask a question. There are also some general guidelines for asking questions of the Tarot.

The following "Seven Deadly Traps" were cited in a recent article in the American Tarot Association's Newsletter (Volume IV number 4, August 1999). Adherence to these tends to vary from reader to reader but it would be best to keep these guidelines in mind when formulating questions. Some readers do not care about these, and others will not answer questions that violate any of these. It's really a matter of personal preference, but for the sake of completeness I'll list them anyway.

  1. Questions with Should, Would or Could.
  2. Questions about other people (Who will, Who should, Who...).
  3. Questions about time.
  4. Questions about being (Is my girlfriend cheating on me?).
  5. Questions about why something or somebody did something.
  6. Questions about what will happen in the future.
  7. Questions about health, wealth and legal problems.

I have a few personal additions to this list that I think will apply to many readers - but certainly not all. It must be said at this point that none of these rules really applies to every single reader, but you should probably formulate your questions as if they did. It makes things much easier for everyone involved, in my opinion.

  1. Either ask a question or make a request. Both are valid; saying "What does the future hold for me?" and "Tell me about my future" are the same to the Tarot. "The issue is my future" is another good form. But don't give the reader a two-page description of your situation and not ask a question or make a request.
  2. Avoid questions that have a yes/no answer. "Will I get back together with my old boyfriend?" is a severely limiting question because there are only two possible answers: yes, or no. A slightly better question would be "will I get back together with my old boyfriend, and why?" "Tell me about my relationship with my boyfriend" or "the issue is my relationship" are probably the best forms for this particular request.
  3. Avoid questions starting with "will I" if the matter is a choice you have to make. A lot of people ask "will I marry (someone)?", and they will be told that it is really up to them whether they get married or not. Tarot reading can easily answer "who is the best husband/wife for me?" or "why can I not find a good husband/wife?" but "will I" tends to cause problems. Of course, "will I get a promotion?" is a valid question, in my opinion, because that is up to your employer, not you. When the choice is yours, do not use the "Will I" form.
  4. Keep your options open. Asking "when will I find a new lover?" is a restrictive question because it rules out the possibility of an old lover returning. A better question would be "when will I find love?" or maybe "when will I find love, and with whom?" Of course, all of these are time questions, so the best form would be, once again, the "tell me about..." form which assumes no answers or time periods.

It is easy to see that asking a question is not quite as accurate as making a request. It depends on the reader, but generally, the request form will eliminate preconceived notions about the outcome of the reading, and will give a reading that is more insightful for the reader and more helpful for the questioner.