Because of this reality, knowing the dos and don’ts of best practices for asking questions in tarot is pretty important if you want to receive a clear reading. Below, two professional tarot readers share the questions they hate answering most, so go ahead and add those to your do-not-ask list. Then, using their intel, you can prep yourself to receive some eye-opening messages about the best types of questions to ask in tarot readings—or what to know if you’re learning tarot yourself.
Questions not to ask in tarot card readings
1. Questions you don’t really want answered
This may seem obvious, but it’s best to avoid asking the tarot cards questions that you’re not ready to hear the answers to. That’s because such questions may bring forth messages you’re simply not quite ready to face.
“If you are not willing to hear the truth of the matter or look at an opposing viewpoint, tarot can really come off as offensive.” —Nicole Fortunaso, tarot reader
“If you are not willing to hear the truth of the matter or look at an opposing viewpoint, tarot can really come off as offensive,” says tarot reader and life coach Nicole Fortunaso. If you go ahead and ask the question and aren’t pleased with the answer, she recommends evaluating why you’re reacting as you are so you can introspect about how to best address the underlying cause.
2. Questions that already have answers
Our intuition always has the best answer for us. But, often we doubt our inner voice and look outside of ourselves for guidance. If that’s the case, tarot reader Kim Krans, author of The Wild Unknown Archetypes Tarot Deck and Guidebook, says, “Trust yourself first and foremost; the tarot is only there to guide you toward deep self-knowing.”
3. When you’re going to die
It may be an aspect of human nature to want to know the answer, but tarot isn’t about that. “Tarot cards will never tell you when you are going to die,” Fortunaso says. “You didn’t know when and where you were going to be born, so why would you know when exactly you leave?”
4. Questions about other people
There is a fine line when it comes to asking questions in your reading that involve other people: If you want to know how to solve a challenge between you and another person or how you can show up better in the relationship to create more harmony, then by all means ask away.
But, questions that don’t come from a place of love and instead have an intent of personal gain aren’t welcome. “The lives of others is not your business unless you have been given permission to explore and share,” Fortunaso says.
5. Medical-type questions
“Tarot cards are not doctors,” Fortunaso says. So, specific health or diagnosis-related questions should be left to medical professionals. That said, you can use tarot cards to help you brainstorm strategies to improve your health. You can ask something like, “What do I need to consider to get my health on track?”
6. The same question, over and over again
If you were less than enthused about the guidance provided courtesy of the cards, Fortunaso recommends not asking the same question again and again in hopes of getting a better answer. Though the cards will sometimes provide information you don’t want to hear, the truth is ultimately for your highest good. So rather than pulling yet another card for yourself or speed-dialing your go-to tarot reader, take some time to digest the initial answers and what they mean for you.
That said, you’re certainly not barred from ever revisiting the same question or topic; just make sure a good amount of time has passed since you last asked. Fortunaso says about three months is a good general guideline, or less if you’ve experienced a significant life change.
7. Yes-or-no questions
Tarot cards can be great for helping us evaluate different options or paths to take, but Fortunaso points out that we all have free will. That means we choose our choices, not the cards. Because of this, yes-or-no questions aren’t very helpful because they don’t allow any room for the tarot cards to divulge other nuggets of wisdom that may help move you forward.
8. Future-predicting questions
Contrary to popular belief, “the tarot cards are not fortune tellers,” Fortunaso says. In the same vein as yes-or-no inquiries, questions that predict the future imply that we don’t have free will and our future is set in stone—and that’s simply not the narrative to which tarot subscribes.
“Tarot is just a mirror to your subconscious. How you react and change your path is up to you.” —Fortunaso
“Tarot is just a mirror to your subconscious,” Fortunaso says. “It picks up your vibes, feelings, and emotions and gives you an indication of where you are trending right now with the topic you are asking about. How you react and change your path is up to you.” In other words, the tarot cards reveal what’s happening in your experience right now, and you can choose to redirect things if you please. So, instead of asking, “Will I get the job?” you can ask, “What do I need to do to get this job?” or “Tell me about this job that I am applying to.”
The best types of questions to ask in tarot readings
1. Open-ended questions
Open-ended questions are the best type of questions to ask in tarot readings, Fortunaso says. Examples include:
- Tell me about my career.
- How can I improve my relationship with x?
- What is happening in my love life right now?
“The reason you want to have these broad questions is because you want the story from the tarot, not the final answer—you should decide that,” Fortunaso says. “You don’t go to a movie and just ask to know the ending. You want to see the movie because you want to see the context. You want to go through the journey.”
Phrasing questions in this way provides the cards with an opportunity to share unexpected information that can be helpful, such as pointing out key players in a situation, emotions that may be underneath the surface, or limiting beliefs that are holding you back. Also, just because a question is open-ended doesn’t mean it can’t be detailed. “Be specific when necessary,” Krans says. “If you have a certain thing you want to know, don’t be afraid to put details like names, places, and dates in your question.”
Pro tip: Be sure you’re feeling cool, calm, and collected before any cards are pulled, whether you’re doing it yourself or working with a reader. “Take 5 or 10 minutes to chill out before a reading,” Krans says. “A bit of breathwork, nature, or meditation will help you refine your questions.”
2. General questions
Although asking the tarot cards questions about something specific can provide some powerful insight, you don’t necessarily need to ask a question at all, Krans says. You can tell your tarot card reader you want a general reading and see what messages come up. Or, if you’re pulling cards for yourself, you can simply ask: “What do I need to know right now?”
3. Clarifying questions
If you pull a card, and you’re still a bit fuzzy about what it means in relation to the context of your question, Fortunaso says it’s totally cool to follow up with questions of clarification. “Often, the best readings are had when further clarification or other questions are needed,” she says. “It can really drill down a topic.”
To do this, Fortunaso suggests letting the cards know that you’re confused about the meaning and pull another with the intention of getting an explanation as to what it means. And if after that you’re still not sure what the heck the cards are trying to tell you, don’t haphazardly pull a bunch of cards. Instead, just sit with the answer for some time and allow it to marinate. The meaning will likely reveal itself in the future.
Remember, keeping these pointers top of mind isn’t just for the benefit of the tarot reader, it’s for the benefit of yourself. And while you may want to visit a professional tarot card reader for questions you’re particularly stuck on, there’s no reason not to DIY a reader if you have a deck. Beginners can start with a one-card pull to set intentions or gain clarity on a single question, or you can learn the ins-and-outs of tarot with a spread.
But no matter how you choose to get a reading, you can rest assured that the cards will yield stronger answers if you use smarter framing in asking them. So to recap, keep your open-ended questions specific and don’t be afraid to go general if you’re unsure about what you want to know. Also be willing to ask follow-up questions like “What do you mean by this?” if your first card isn’t being clear. And above all, don’t ask a question if you don’t want to know the answer—seriously.
Originally published January 20, 2020.
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