The Tarot Muse
Carolyn R. Guss
Certified Professional Tarot Reader and Teacher

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"The Question's The Thing" (“wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king”—with apologies to Hamlet and Shakespeare)


How to formulate clear and productive questions for your Tarot reading

by Carolyn R. Guss-- The Tarot Muse ©

The Tarot can serve as a valuable and effective tool to your future if you approach it properly. Many times we consult the cards for their wisdom in a more general type of reading–such as asking for overall guidance or advice (e.g. "What do I need to look at or focus on right now?"). At others we might want to gain information about a specific issue; in that case the question asked is one of the most important elements of a successful Tarot reading. Thus, it is worthwhile to spend a few minutes creating a clear, answerable, and productive question before laying out the cards. For example, if you want to know about your job or career, try narrowing down just what it is you want to know. Do you want to learn about the status of your current job or position; seek advice on a specific project you're working on; explore your relationship with bosses, co-workers, clients? These sorts of specific details determine the focus and shape—and ultimately the results—of your reading.

A spin-off value to discussing and shaping your question is that doing so requires you to actually think about what it is that you want to know—or what it is that you desire to learn from the cards. You may not have taken the time to be so focused before. Feel free to have the Tarot reader assist you in this; I always spend a few minutes before the reading helping my clients (and me) determine what it is that they want to learn. This in turn affects the choice of Tarot spread we use; whether we will do one or multiple layouts, and so on. Sometimes I create a new, personalized spread to address their specific question or tailor an existing one to more closely meet their needs.

In preparation for the reading, consider the type of question you are asking. Is it vague, such as "Should I quit my job?" What does should mean? The Tarot may not deal effectively with a "should" type question. Better to re-frame it towards something more specific, such as, "If I were to leave my job, what sorts of opportunities await me?" Also determine whether the question is empowering or not. If not, you—again with the help of your Tarot reader—might try to reshape the question to a more empowering one. In the case of the question "Will this relationship last? Will we be together forever?," you might consider reframing the question to something like "Do I want this relationship to last?" Or "Why do I think that it will? Why do I think it won't? What can I do to make it last?" And so on. A reading need not be solely predictive to be of value to you; it may confirm what you already know, point you in a new direction; offer a perspective not previously seen; or suggest possible options or choices you didn't realize you had.

If you are having trouble determining your question, try writing it down. Sometimes seeing it spelled out in so many words helps to clarify what you do—or don't—want to know. It also helps you to focus, which is an important aspect of every Tarot reading. I have had clients who said they wanted a reading about subject A; after we spent a few minutes clarifying that, it turned out that they actually wanted to know about subject B—which resulted in a far stronger and more accurate reading. So don't be afraid to wrestle with those thoughts, including asking yourself, "What is it that I really want to learn from the Tarot?" The more effort you put in, the more rewards—in terms of a meaningful reading—you'll reap!