A Question of Question
October 7, 2007 § 4 Comments
One of the most repeated pieces of advice given to beginner tarot readers is “Ask the right question”.
What’s the right question? Well, a Good Question is one that is positive, empowering and keeps responsibility with the querent. Questions such as “How can I improve my chances of promotion” and “What can I do to repair this relationship” are Good Questions. Questions such as “Will I get a promotion this year”, “Should I buy the Mystic Faeries deck“, and “What’s the capital of Greenland” are Bad Questions.
This is exactly the advice given in Tarot Stripped Bare, so I can’t knock it. But I wouldn’t anyway. I still believe that, for beginners, it’s good advice. Asking the right question gives you a context in which to interpret the answer. If you ask “How….” and the Knight of Wands comes up, you’re getting a pretty clear message. If you ask “Should I….” and the same card comes up, it’s a lot more tricky to work out what it’s telling you.
More and more, however, I find myself asking Bad Questions. It seems to work for me. The key seems to be in how you interpret the cards. The main criticism lobbied against Bad Questions is that they invariably lead to yes/no answers (see my examples above, except the one about Greenland) and that’s true, in a way. But when you ask a friend whether you should buy a dress or go on a date with that guy you hardly know or take a job selling popcorn, you hardly ever get a yes/no answer. You get a “Yes, because…” answer or a “No, but…” answer. Sometimes you get a “Ohmigod that guy’s so cute you should totally go out with him and then marry him and have all his children” answer. The same is true with tarot.
The truth is, if tarot was a machine and all that happened was you put in a pound, asked a question and out popped your answer then you really couldn’t expect more than a yes or a no. But tarot is a rich, complex, deep, versatile, beautiful, intelligent divination tool. And if you believe tarot works – if you’re willing to believe that much in such an incredible, illogical thing – then you should give it more credit. Tarot doesn’t just give us answers – it converses with us. That’s why when I ask “Should I go to my cousin’s wedding”, I know that not one card will tell me “yes” or “no”. Instead my friend the tarot will discuss my fears and apprehensions with me, and help me come to my own decision.