You can ask the tarot questions on a wide range of topics but some questions are more effective at producing useful answers than others. How you ask or phrase the question can be as important as the topic. This post will discuss the types of tarot questions that work best; why yes/no type questions are not great at producing an answer you can act on; and we’ll look at the topics that are ethically challenging to answer with the tarot.
Having a very clear question in mind is really important when you use the tarot; a clear question provides a meaningful answer. I discuss the need for a good question in the posts ‘Reading Tarot for Yourself – 7 Things to Avoid‘ – which is here – and ‘How To Read Tarot Cards – 10 Steps For Great Readings‘ which is here.
Open Ended Tarot Questions
Whether you read tarot for yourself or someone reads the cards for you, the tarot provides the most benefit when it gives an answer that allows you to think about the ins and outs of the issue. This will help you plan the best course of action to enable you to move forwards. Open ended tarot questions are really effective at allowing you to do this.
Open ended questions usually begin with Why; What; Where; When; Who; and How. For instance, assume you are having an ongoing argument with your partner and you want to know how to resolve it. Examples of good tarot questions include ‘How can I resolve this issue in my relationship?’ and ‘What do I need to know to help resolve this issue?’
Asking open ended tarot questions gives your reading a context to help you think about the situation and the way ahead. Your tarot reading then become a practical and helpful way of dealing with the sorts of issues you might encounter every day. This moves tarot away from just being a fortune telling method towards something that can provide you with actual guidance.
Personally, I have been using open ended questions for many years. This has made the tarot an immensely valuable means of helping me think through situations and guide me to answers. I can’t stress that enough. For the people I read for, this approach has really resonated as well.
So, if open ended questions makes the tarot a powerful instrument of advice and guidance, what types of questions prove to be less helpful? Time to look at yes or no questions.
Predictive Yes or No Tarot Questions
Closed tarot questions are ones which lead to a yes or no answer. I’m sure there are tarot readers out there who do predictive readings who would disagree with me but I have never found these types of questions to be useful. Why not?
Firstly, the future is not set in stone. Every decision we make, even the smallest and most inconsequential, can change a prediction. Any tarot reader who claims they can predict something will happen with 100% certainty is essentially talking nonsense.
When we do a tarot reading, the answer we get is not the destination at the end of a fixed track we can’t leave. I have had predictive readings done for me, more for my curiosity then anything else. The predictions did not happen.
More spectacularly, I recall someone predicting that Hilary Clinton would become the President of the USA after the 2016 election. Guess what? Nope.
Secondly, a yes or no tarot question does not give the querent agency to affect the outcome. If you get a yes or no answer from a tarot reading then what? If the answer is ‘yes’ then people who believe in fate will just sit back and wait for the prediction to come true. Sometimes the prediction does come true due to coincidence. More likely, nothing happens because no action was taken.
What’s worse is that the querent may have an external locus of control. This means they believe their life is controlled by external forces and they cannot do anything to change their destiny. Such persons won’t attempt to avoid a ‘no’ result – which could have a negative effect on their lives – therefore the no outcome becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
To be clear, while I do not believe that tarot can predict something with absolute accuracy, I do believe it can forecast a potential, possible, future if current conditions are unchanged.
Am I contradicting everything i’ve just written above? I don’t believe so. Economists try to forecast how the economy will act and weather forecasters can predict likely outcomes if things continue as expected.
While both of these examples are based on mathematical models, the tarot can be used to forecast what is likely to happen if you don’t take action to change the current situation. My experience with tarot has shown this to be true pretty often over the years. Action is required to achieve the results you want – as is true in life generally.
Overall, as you can tell, i’m not a fan of yes no type tarot questions. They do not help you to think about the issue and what you can do about it. But people want yes no questions from tarot quite often.
If you read tarot for yourself and a yes no question springs to mind or if someone asks you a yes or no question, how could you respond to this?
How To Respond to Yes Or No Tarot Questions
When reading tarot for myself to answer a serious question, if it seems like a yes or no question, I will re-phrase it to encourage a constructive answer. For instance, I would re-phrase the question ‘Will I get the job?’ to ‘What do I need to know in order to get the job?’. This approach has always proved to be the most helpful for myself. If i’m reading for other people and they ask me a yes or no question I gently encourage them to rethink their question to make it open ended.
Most of the time this works. The person i’m reading for leaves the reading satisfied and with ideas they can consider to help them with their issue. Sometimes though, all they want is a yes or no answer. What I do then is the following type of yes no spread from ‘Tarot Spreads: Layouts & Techniques to Empower Your Readings’ by Barbara Moore
It’s a 3 card spread. Choose any 3 card spread you like: I like to use Situation; What You Need to Know; Advice. The spread does use reversals; if you want to know how to easily interpret reversals read the post ‘Read Reversed Tarot Cards With W.I.N.D.‘ which you can find here.
An upright card means ‘Yes’, a reversed card means ‘No’ with the middle position counting double. You then simply count the number of upright and reversed cards. For instance, if the first and second cards are upright but the last card is reversed, the answer is Yes (3 Yes to 1 No). If the first card is upright but the middle and last cards are reversed, the answer is No (1 Yes to 3 No). If the first and last card are upright but the middle card is reversed, the answer is Maybe or Uncertain (2 Yes to 2 No),
Since I don’t like simple Yes or No answers I use the spread I chose to actually interpret the cards. If the overall answer is Yes I would try to interpret the result as ‘The answer is Yes if….’. However, if the answer is No – and this is an undesirable result – I would interpret the result as ‘The answer is No but….’ So, you get a Yes or No answer (or Maybe) but the spread would give a constructive message as to how to ensure the yes result or how to avoid the no result.
I’ve used this approach to Yes No questions a lot and it seems to work well. It gives the querent an indication of the likely result if nothing changes but then gives some idea of how to reach the Yes result or avoid the No result.
Ethically Challenging Tarot Questions
I personally do not answer tarot questions related to health; legal issues; or finance. This is a topic hotly debated between different tarot readers.
I strongly believe that these three areas are too important to be left to the cards. Issues in these areas can have major life altering consequences and I would strongly recommend seeing the relevant appropriately qualified professionals if you have serious concerns. Tarot is an art not a science and, as I mentioned earlier, the tarot cannot accurately predict the future with certainty.
There are many tarot readers who would disagree with me and don’t believe there is any harm in answering tarot questions on health; legal matters or money concerns.
The following is one actual example of why I do not believe it is ethical or wise to read the tarot on these issues.
A querent told me she was having tissue from a breast lump analysed. She wanted me to use the tarot to tell her if everything was going to be O.K. or not – a Yes No question. I asked her if she believed in fate and how would she feel if I said ‘No, things were not going to all right.’ She told me that she believed the future could not be changed and that she would be worried if the reading provided a No answer.
I could have suggested she rephrase the question to make it open ended but I really didn’t feel that would be advisable in this case. I told her that I could not use the tarot to answer this question. She accepted this and asked me a different question for which I did complete a reading.
This example raised some warning signs for me at the time. I am not a doctor so am not qualified to talk about medical issues such as testing for the presence of cancer. Also, as she told me she would have been concerned if the reading had a No outcome, I did not believe it ethical to leave someone in distress. This is something that has been part of my professional therapy practice and it feels right to apply that to tarot readings too.
Also, because she believed in fate, she would have felt powerless to take action. In reality, there wouldn’t have been much she could do except have a consultation with the specialist clinician. The only sensible thing to do was advise her to await the test result and discuss it with her doctor. Which is what I did.
If you are reading for someone else then you need to be aware that they will likely come to you for advice and guidance when they are troubled. You have a responsibility to treat them with care and compassion and sign post them to the relevant professionals where necessary. And remember, depending on the laws where you live, you could be liable to legal action if a querent decides to sue you.
I will not read tarot for myself on health; legal matters or finance either. Although I have some medical knowledge due to working as an occupational therapist, I will not trust tarot to provide answers to health issues – off to the doctor I go! Same for legal or money matters. The consequences of things going wrong are far too serious.
I believe it is O.K. to ask the tarot a question such as ‘What do I need to know about this health/legal/finance issue?’ This could give you a general overview of the situation which can be helpful. But please go and see the relevant professionals!
Third Party Tarot Readings
Third party tarot readings are where you answer tarot questions relating to another person who is not present at the reading. This is either reading for yourself or for a querent. A typical third party question might be ‘Why isn’t he contacting me?’ or ‘What is he thinking?’
Anything wrong with third party questions? Well, yes, I believe there is.
Imagine this scenario. Someone close to you, perhaps a partner; close friend or even a relative, suddenly starts to behave differently around you. Maybe, they are becoming more distant, remote, actively avoiding you. Then you discover they went for a tarot reading about YOU. And didn’t like what they heard. How would you feel? Annoyed? Angry? Upset? I wouldn’t blame you.
Maybe if you had been present at the tarot reading as well things could have gone differently. You might have had an opportunity to correct some inaccuracies about you that the tarot reader was seeing in the cards.
The point is that you did not provide consent for the reading that was all about you; you didn’t know about it.
Whether you do a third party tarot reading for yourself or answer a third party tarot question for someone else, the fact is the answers you get can seriously influence how the querent interacts with that third person. That person may be negatively impacted by this and they were not present to provide consent. It is absolutely unfair on that person; they should have been present at the reading. Better still, the question should not have been asked.
Of course, there are plenty of tarot readers who will answer third party tarot questions. But is it right? Only you can answer that question. I always recall this phrase ‘Treat others as you would have them treat you.’ If you don’t like the idea of someone treating you differently because of a tarot reading about you, you have your answer.
Tarot Questions Wrap up
Hopefully this post has helped you to think about how to ask tarot questions that provide meaningful answers. And which topics can cause serious problems if you get things wrong. It took me a long time to learn some of these lessons. In my earlier tarot days I did ask questions on health and about other people. The stress and worry it caused was simply not worth it. I made these mistakes so you don’t have to!
Happy tarot reading!