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Reading Tips

Four Practical Tips to Rephrasing over Email

By December 10, 200913 Comments

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!

Join the discussion 13 Comments

  • submerina says:

    GREAT post – thank you! It is so interesting to see how a “real” reading works, all the things you have to keep in mind and think about before proceeding with the actual reading. Those questions are tough to begin with, but to get a satisfactory answer from a one-card reading? Wow. Must be amazing practice! All the best and I hope you continue to share what you learn 🙂

    • digiacom says:

      Thank you Submerina! I’m glad you’ve found the post helpful. One card readings can be extremely informational with this method since the question becomes very precise – without the clarification of the question, one card falls flat and the reader is left guessing which part of the question, or even what part of life, the card is talking about.

      Now that you mention it, this method is especially good for setting up one-card readings, since those are the types of readings I answered these questions for. If you are curious how they turned out, feel free to email me! 🙂

  • Your experience is indeed obvious. This post is incredibly well thought out Lionel. I didn’t know you had gotten into doing email readings but it sounds great for you. I am thoroughly impressed, as always, with how you take the tarot and combine it with other studies so seamlessly, as I see a lot of your studies in psychology evident here.

    • digiacom says:

      Always kind words, thank you Morgan! How honored am I that the famed founder of the Guelph Occult Society flatters me such 🙂

      I was definitely hoping to include within the tips an approach which allies the reader with the querent; At each stage honoring the intention of their original question, and being transparant with changes.

      I miss having you in town so we could talk about these things in shops, I dream of next time we get the chance.

  • Hello Lionel.
    I have read with interest this post. Would it be possible to know what cards came up,and how you read them?
    To answer those questions with one card each would be a huge challenge for me. I would love to know how you did it. Were you personally satisfied with the answers?

    • digiacom says:

      Absolutely Anna.

      For ‘Red’, I drew the Nine of Cups. The questioner had mentioned they were a pisces in the original question, which helped make this a more complete reading. Since Nine of Cups is a piscean card in some systems, that meant maybe to look out for someone with ideals and personality similar to her own. I also stated she can only benefit by going for the guys she really wants, and not compromising – she should try and have who she wants!

      For ‘Blue’ I drew the King of Wands. I took this to represent the drive and inspiration it requires to strike out for oneself, and as a signal that the querent could stand balance in her life – In the question she is already ‘burning out’, and so she can ally others to her cause by relaxing and lowering her intensity level.

      These of course are very abridged, if you are interested in the entire readings I’m happy to share them; Though the questions were real, these readings were for demonstration and never delivered.

      I was very satisfied with the results – One card goes a long way with a well developed question and a solid confidence in the cards. Thanks so much for your interest Anna!

  • Hi Lionel,
    I am impressed. I would love to see the entire readings, and if possible the two original questions in full.
    I am asking because I like to see how you came to your interpretations. As you said, knowing that the querent was a Pisces helped you.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences.


  • Karinjenny says:

    I haven’t been able to get on this site for a while and am VERY IMPRESSED by the nuts and bolt usefulness of your approach here, Lionel

  • Raveena says:

    Wow, incredibly useful post, thank you so much. Precisely written, easy to grasp technique, very much appreciate your sharing this.

    • digiacom says:

      Thank you so much for your feedback – I hope if you have any results derived from trying this out that you share it with me, I’d love to know how it helps you and how you finetune it for your own practice!

  • digiacom says:

    I am honored by your delight, Thank you!