So you’re ready to get a tarot reading, and you probably have an idea of what you want to talk about. (It's okay if you don't though—readings can be general!) What do you say to your reader? There are three main approaches for focusing your reading:
Approach #1: Don’t ask a question
You don’t have to ask anything! You can just let the cards fall where they may. This is a great approach, and you’ll get a lot out of the reading this way.
Approach #2: Give a general topic
Giving your reader a topic can help them focus their card interpretations. It can also help you focus your own attention, which could help you feel more grounded and connected to the reading. Topics can be a single word, like "family", "work", or "travel." They can also be a phrase, like “my new relationship” or “my grief about the pandemic.”
Approach #3: Ask a question
Asking a question is the classic way to focus your reading. Here’s four dos and don’ts to asking an effective question:
1. Do ask an open-ended question (hint: start with “what” or “how”).
Tarot is great for big open-ended questions like, “what insights do I need about connecting with other queer folks?” But it’s terrible for yes/no questions like, “should I go to the Zoom meetup this Friday?” Tarot just can’t give you an answer like that! A bummer, I know. Keep your questions open-ended, and you'll be happier with the results.
(But yes, you should go to the Zoom meetup. If it's great, sweet! If it’s awful, cut out early and luxuriate in the JOMO. Win/win situation.)
2. Don’t ask for a prediction (like, “When will I get a new job?”)
I’m not a predictive reader and I’m personally a skeptic about tarot as a predictive tool. I think it's fine to use tarot for just-for-fun predictions, even though I don't offer that service, but I think it's pretty risky to use it for serious predictions. Like anything, it's important to take tarot with a grain of salt and use your own judgment!
When I get predictive questions like “when will I get a new job?”, I suggest opening them up, like “what insights do I need about my job search?” or “how can I support myself during the uncertainty of my job search?” I’m also gonna recommend Ask A Manager!
3. Do ask a question about yourself (and not someone else).
Love and relationships are big tarot topics, and it’s natural to wish we could know what someone wants (like, “is this babe into me?” or “does my ex still love me?”) without making ourselves vulnerable by asking them. It’s really hard to put yourself out there! But I believe it’s unethical to read about someone’s feelings if they haven’t consented, so I'm only gonna read about you.
However! We can always re-frame these questions to make them about you. For example, you can say, "how can I work up the courage to ask this babe if they want to go to a place at a time with me?" or "what insights do I need about navigating my desire to get back together with my ex?"
4. Don’t expect a crystal-clear answer (even with a carefully crafted question).
Sometimes a tarot reading is really direct, and you’re like, "dang, called OUT." And sometimes you’re left going, "huh?" One time I spent hours with a friend arguing about a tarot card he got in a reading, only to realize that a) the card was reversed (ha!) and b) the lack of that card’s energy in his life was a major issue that he was struggling with—and that really needed his attention. Wrestling with “ugh why that card???” led to a big aha moment for him!
Bottom line: There’s something valuable in every reading, and it may take you a while to figure out what it is. If you’re stuck, journal about it, go on a long walk with it, meditate, or just be patient and wait for it to become clear. It probably will.
I won’t read about certain topics. As I said above, I don't do predictions, and I won’t read about what another person is thinking or feeling. I also won’t read about health, financial, or legal issues, and no tarot reader should. Talk to a qualified professional about that stuff!
There’s some leeway here if your question is about your feelings about the issue. For example, if you’re dealing with a chronic health issue, and your question is about feeling isolated or frustrated about your health, that’s something I can read about.
You’ve got options when it comes to focusing your tarot reading! Whether you let the cards fall where they may, give a general topic, or ask a question, you’ll probably walk away with some new insights—or a confirmation of something important that you already knew. If you’re not sure what approach to take, ask your reader! If you want to read with me, here’s a link to my readings page.