A few years ago, I wrote a blog post titled “What to ask during a tarot reading? 5 types of questions for consideration”, in which I gave a list of 5 useful question tags that will help you formulate a question to ask your deck, which will lead to insightful answers. In this blog post, I am revisiting this topic with a new perspective and additional thoughts. If you’re just looking for a springboard of ideas for your reading and quick “reading hacks”, scroll down to check out 6 questions/things you can do to get the best out of a tarot session!
So what are some questions to ask during a tarot reading? Instead of asking that question, what we really should be asking is What do we want to know? What is the answer that we seek?
Or most importantly: How do we arrive at the answers that we seek?
I’m going to come at this from a totally different angle because I feel that it’s not really about the questions we ask–it’s about what we are looking for in a reading session. Are we looking for solutions, encouragement, guidance, self-reflection, or an alternative perspective? Are we looking to be comforted, to have light shed on a situation, or to be given advice? To be able to answer those questions, we will have to practice self-awareness and have a good level of self-understanding to know what it is that we are looking for. Indeed, I believe that knowing ourselves, knowing what we’re like, how we’re wired to think and feel and how we are experiencing a certain relationship or situation is key to finding answers that are going to be helpful and illuminating for us or for others.
Other than self-awareness, another important question to ask is: Do you want to know the answer?
Getting the best out of a tarot reading isn’t necessarily about the type of questions that you ask. It’s about your intention. From personal experience, the answers that I gain from pulling cards for myself range from nonsensical, mediocre/meh, or deeply transformative, poignant and resonating. This isn’t due to the fact that I asked different questions with varying degrees of appropriateness or usefulness–I could be cardslinging with the same questions over and over, and each time I may have a different result from the last time.
I believe this is because of the intention that I carry during each reading. For each nonsensical answer that I got, it was always because I wasn’t really in the mood for a reading; I just thought that I would pull a card and see what I would get–kind of like playing a scratch-and-win lottery card. I wasn’t serious about looking for an answer. For every mediocre answer, I would be asking serious questions about my life, but more often than not, those questions lacked both weight and urgency. Sure, they were important questions and it was fun to reflect on the answers, but I wasn’t seeking to be transformed or inspired by the insights that came up.
Some of the best readings I did for myself were readings that were done with some serious intention. Tarot gave me answers that were shining, timeless and layered with wisdom. Answers that unlocked my sense of potential, helped me heal and release my shadows. Answers that pushed me forward in life and actually made an impact. Was it because of the type of questions that I asked? I don’t believe so. I believe the answers were golden because I wanted them to be golden. I needed the depth and guidance of tarot and so I carried my intention with sincerity, purity and urgency. It was because I sought those answers, made space for those answers, and allowed them to come into my consciousness.
So you see, it’s not really about the questions that you ask. As the old saying goes: it’s about the journey and not the destination. For a lot of people, there may be an unspoken pressure to come up with a good sure-fire question that will land you directly at the gate of High Priestess’ Realm. We want to efficiently enter that space so we try to beef up our process in whatever way we can. We want to find ways and tools to help us optimize our tarot reading procedures so we can be more productive in “knowing”. Those who practice tarot knows that High Priestess cannot be pursued physically–it is not a place to be entered. It is a frequency, a space that you embody when you allow it to surface.
A tarot reading is like that–it is a journey that you partake.
Sometimes you don’t know where you’ll end up so you don’t know what questions you need to ask, so you allow tarot to guide you through the process and point you towards the right direction. Sometimes you have a vague idea about where you want to be headed, and you also allow tarot to illuminate your path and light the way. And sometimes, you know exactly where you want to end up and you may also know what path you need to take–but it doesn’t really matter how long it takes you to get there, am I right? It doesn’t really matter which path you choose because you know deep in your heart that you are going to arrive at your destination. You’ve made sure of that at the beginning of your trip by deciding that you are going to end up there. With that in mind, with that intention in mind, you allow tarot to show you the way.
In short, it’s not really about the questions that you ask–it is about the answers that you seek and the intention that you hold. If you are truly seeking to solve the puzzle in your heart or the problems that you face, you will find what you are looking for simply because you are seeking. The act of seeking is what will get you the answers that you want, and as long as you hold that intention within you, you can ask the stupidest questions ever to your deck of tarot cards–even then, I believe that you will still find your way.
That’s a long-winded answer for a simple question, but hey! For those of you who are simply looking for a springboard or ideas to ask a good question or a better question to your tarot cards, here is a list of questions and suggestions to help you get started:
Start with a general question.
General questions are great insight starters if you don’t really know what you’re looking for. You can then narrow down the scope of your search by framing another question with the insights and reflections that you have gained from the cards. For example: What do I need to know right now? What is a message that tarot/my higher self/spirit guide/God/Universe has for me?
Ask your tarot cards to tell you what to ask.
If you really have no idea what you need to be focusing on right now–not to worry. Why not ask your cards to give you some suggestions? (Unless your deck spits out the High Priestess card and gives you a trollish grin as it says, Well, what do YOU think? You know the answer already.) This can give you clues about which aspect of your experience you can address and explore. For example, if you receive the 10 of Swords, it might be a good idea to ask the cards to help you explore the source of your stress and depression and ask for encouragement and guidance. If you receive Ace of Pentacles, then you might want to ask about something practical, such as how you can actively solve the problem or what you need to put into action to make the best of a situation.
Start the question with “How” or “Why”.
“How” questions are great, because it’s got a problem solving vibe. It’s a great little question tag firmly rooted in the desire for action. E.g. “How do I solve this problem? How do I approach this person or situation? How can I release my emotions?” On the other hand, “Why” is a great shadow work question tag because by asking “Why”, you are saying that you want to locate the source and get to the bottom of things. E.g. “Why am I feeling this way? Why am I unable to release this emotion? Why has this situation perpetuated? Why isn’t this problem solved?” Be careful with “why” questions though. You don’t want to accidentally switch on victim mode and start a self-pity party or a rant fest.
Use a tarot spread.
Tarot spreads are an awesome idea and there are so many great spreads out there for you to choose from! The reason why they are awesome is because they are laid out in a way that addresses multiple aspects of a situation or scenario, offering you a holistic outlook on your experience. They are general in scope but specific enough to give you a clearer sense of direction, pointing you towards the answers that you seek. I often create my own spreads to address my own needs, or I “outsource” them and hunt them down from the tarot readers (Kelly-Ann Maddox, Jessi Huntenburg, and Ethony etc) that I adore!
Do a brainstorm session before you start a reading.
Just like writing a well structured essay (my English tutoring mode is switching itself on at the word “brainstorming” LOL) , brainstorming and getting some ideas down before the “real work” is very helpful–not to mention you will be able to come up with specific questions tailored to answer your immediate questions. Do a “vomit” session and just dump out whatever thoughts or feelings that you have, jotting down things like how you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, what you want to know, what you need help with, and ways to look at the problem or solve the problem. After a short session, you can look at what you’ve written down and see if there is a pattern. For example, you may notice that you repeatedly put down “I am so mad at XXX!” or “She’s such a XXX!” This can become something you focus on during the tarot reading. You can ask, “Why am I so angry at XXX? How do I release and process this anger? How can I communicate with her and resolve the issue? Are there any shadow triggers or projections that are coming from my side?”
Practice self-awareness and journal about your tarot process.
Like I mentioned before, self-awareness helps our tarot process because by knowing the workings of our own mind, we can be a better teammate to ourselves and also to our tarot deck. Imagine you pull out your deck of cards, and your deck goes, “I’m ready! Give me your questions, let’s go!” while you are still spinning on the spot, screaming, “Hold on, just gimme a minute!” It’s a much better scenario if your deck says “I’m ready!” to which you answer, “So am I! I want to work on processing my feelings today because I know I have the tendency to do shove my feelings under the carpet!” You are more likely to get a better reading session with your deck because you have a better understanding of your own tendencies and emotional trajectories.