Recently I decided to apply to the Free Tarot Network to both read more, and to practice readings over email. It is an ATA operated website which provides free, one-card tarot readings to the public. I thought that sounded pretty cool, and I’m always looking to do more readings, so I signed up.
One of their requirements is that one of their established readers mentors you, examining you and your style to make sure you can actually read some tarot. My own mentor has been very friendly and supportive, and the sample questions he provided me to practice on with him were good examples of ‘difficult’ tarot questions – questions which usually get rephrased, unless you are very comfortable being asked predictive and dramatic questions.
Color coded so they can later be referred to as ‘Red’ and ‘Blue’, two of these questions were:
Red: “What is the star sign, and if possible, first initial of the man who has a romantic interest in me?”
Blue: “I’ve risked everything starting my new business. The business is struggling, my friends and family don’t support me, and we need money. My confidence in my direction is gone, and I don’t know what to do. We need a windfall.”
After one of my responses, my mentor commented my experience was evident in how I handled the questions themselves. Looking back over them, I saw that I have a somewhat systematic approach to questions when giving readings. I thought that might be helpful to those looking to do readings over the web, or even just looking for approaches to ‘hard’ questions. Here I’ll lay down the basic framework of how I handled these questions and ones like them, which is particularly well suited to a medium like email where I’m not able to get feedback from the querent.
Here is that framework to help examine and refine questions in the form of Four simplified tips. Good and precise question can be the difference between a nice reading and a truly helpful one! I will look at those two ‘difficult’ questions above beneath the lens of each tip to help give a sense of how I used the suggestions.
1. Acknowledge the Theme and Announce your Intent
Each question has a broad area in life to which they correspond. Usually it is something to do with love or work, though some other general areas are friendships, family, and health. It isn’t crucial to be this broad when first looking at a question, but it helps with decisions down the road to keep you on track. It also helps when you need to generalize a question or severely rephrase it, so you can establish that you’re talking about the same things.
By pairing the theme with what kind of help you generally are able to offer, you set them up to accept your rephrasing of their question. Include what you want them to get out of your tarot reading in general without hinting at the content, since you haven’t even drawn a card yet.
Red: I’m looking forward to giving you some insight into the future of your love life.
Blue: Starting a new business can be unpredictable and difficult, and I hope I can offer you some new perspectives to help inform the tough choices you’re facing.
2. Identify and Respond to Requests for Prediction
Most tarot readers I’ve met agree that one generally doesn’t offer firm predictions of the future. Though some may be truly psychic, I have never considered myself able to tell the future in any real way. If a querent doesn’t know up front that the reader won’t give firm predictions, quickly explaining it after the question is crucial. If you are the rare reader who feels comfortable giving predictions, this part of the checklist can give you a clear map of what your client is expecting and what you are prepared to offer.
Let them know what to expect from your reading by first explaining what you are able to deliver, and then restating the very specific part of their question. Once you have done that, let them know what they can expect instead.
It can help a lot here to simply generalize the type of information they are asking for. “I want to know if I find Mr. Right this month” may really be saying, “Will I find love soon?” or even, “I met someone this month, is he Mr. Right?” Both generalizations are great starts on making the question answerable.
Red: Like many tarot readers, I do not consider myself psychic and do not offer firm predictions of the future. So though I could happily guess at the possible star sign and first initial of this man in your future, my reading will be geared towards looking at what qualities you might look for (or avoid!) in men you meet.
Blue: Before I pull your card, please know that I don’t consider myself psychic, so I will not firmly predict whether you will receive a windfall or not in your business, but I will be able to offer possibilities I see in the card we draw, and look forward to the different options you might gain from the reading.
3. Clarify Ambiguities and Hidden Questions
Lots of questions querents offer have telling information embedded in them, asking questions between the lines indirectly. And then, a lot are just poorly worded. Express when you are confused immediately and clearly, so you don’t find yourself missing anything, or answering a question your querent didn’t mean to ask.
Simply stating any irregularity you see along with the possibilities is an efficient way to do it. You will have a chance to unite the different possibilities in the last step. If the question is plenty direct, simply move past this step.
Red: Based on your question, I am not sure whether you have a specific man in mind and want verification that he is ‘the one’, or are asking for clues so you won’t miss ‘him’ while living your life.
Blue: (I did not choose to write anything, but if I had…) It feels a little bit as though you are asking two questions: First and biggest, whether you’ve been making the right choices in keeping with your new business. Second, some insight on your immediate financial future, since there seems to be some urgency there. Both may have some answers in the reading, and I am curious what we’ll see.
4. Unite the Question and Begin the Reading
You have laid down the theme of the reading and what you can offer them, clarified any points of specific prediction they are looking for and your policy on specific predictions, and revealed possible confusion within the structure of the question itself so as not to get trapped answering the wrong question, or even only one of several.
Given all of this information you’ve gathered looking at the question, you must put it together into a new question: The question you actually intend to answer. This question may be exactly what they asked you, but in the case of the examples above they will see quite a lot of work. The new question should clearly stay in the same theme as the original query, and hopefully includes at least the basic premise of any specific predictions they were looking. Any ambiguities or multi-headed questions can be united by broadening the question.
I summarize any large changes I am making to the question and deliver the rephrased version along with a practical description of the start of the reading. I find this grounds it and keeps things moving. Sometimes I weave the rephrasing into the actual reading, I feel especially for a sensitive question it infuses some authority and clearly states what the client can expect to see answered.
Red: With all that in mind, and in the spirit of such a short reading, I’m going to expand your question a little. Don’t worry, for fun I’ll look at what the cards guess may be his sign (Or even his initials! ), but this question will offer us a broader perspective of your future love: “What am I looking for in my future love?” So now I will begin the reading…
Blue: The reading will be a one-card reading, which will give us a general energy of your new business, its direction, and what may be nourishing and challenging you in this adventure. I am shuffling the deck and will cut the cards, followed by a moment of silence. I invite you to take a moment and let your questions flow through your mind as I prepare to draw your card…
Stitched together, the four steps can build a strong opening to a reading over email. For easier questions, the process can still be observed to help create an atmosphere of care for the question asked. No matter how it is used or adapted, I am hoping this material finds usefulness either directly or as inspiration. Reading the cards over email has been a new and unique way to read Tarot, and has challenged me to be decisive and extra clear with my readings right from the start. I look forward to hearing back from you what you think, both about these tips and about long distance reading in general!