December 18th, 2006

Shaman - Horse

How to Ask Tarot Questions – Part 1


Most every tarot deck comes with a little book that tells what each card means. The book may even suggest some spreads to use and what each position in the spread means. This is all very useful information. What does the card reader do now? What questions can be asked, whom can they be asked for, and how are they asked? This article will examine the who, what, where and how of asking questions of the tarot.


The tarot is a navigation tool for our lives. Symbols in the framework of a tarot deck provide direction.

A "reading" of tarot symbols gives you information about the present. Since the present is a seed for the future, the reading offers a vision of a "probable" future. Once the future has been glimpsed, it can be altered to either insure or deter what is seen. The tarot gives feedback about one’s location along life’s journey. The reading shows the possibilities, giving us choice and greater control over the destiny.

The symbols in the tarot are like symbolic clues we receive throughout life. Events in the world that occur seemingly at random, such as a gust of wind or a falling leaf, are symbolic guideposts of impending events. The tarot reading is simply the intentional allowing of synchronism to furnish a sign.


Who formulates and asks the question? Both the querent and the reader collaborate together in the formulation of the question. The cards that come up are for the querent, and the reader ‘s job is to phrase the question. I typically have the querent shuffle the cards until they "feel right" while the querent thinks about the final question. This bonds the card to the querent and removes the myself (the reader) from the answer.

It is the reader’s job to define the question and choose a suitable spread. In my experience the querent typically is asking about a specific question, gives no input on the question, or wishes to have a general reading. How the general reading is handled will be addressed in the "How?" section.

The specific question is handled like a doctor handles the reported symptoms of a patient. The reader asks enough questions about the question to formulate the "what" of the question. The reader then moves onto the "What?" stage of the reading.

Sometimes the querent gives no indication of their question. They may have a specific question or several questions, and it is up to the reader to deliver information from the reading that is most pertinent at the time. I call this "stump the psychic." A dear friend used to do this to me when I was learning to read. She would think of a question and I would see how close I would get. I do not recommend this approach. It can remove some of the potential "punch” of the reading as the reader scrambles to intuit both what the question is and what the answer is. "
Shaman - Horse

Why I am a Programmer

Part of my paradox of life is that I am a tarot-reading, astrological plotting, pyschic delving computer programmer. My speciality is custom database applications. I recently came across a list of "Joys of the Craft" (Page 7, The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering).

The five reasons why programming is fun:

  • The sheer joy of making things

  • The pleasure of making things that are useful to other people

  • The fascination of fashioning complex puzzle-like objects of interlocking moving parts

  • The joy of always learning

  • The delight of working in a tractable medium

Hmmm... just like magick. Go figure.
Shaman - Horse

The Survival of Society

An insightful LJ friend of mine said...
Frankly, however, on an emotional level, I will never understand the death penalty. I can, in some ways, understand killing as an act of vengeance, an act of passion, but I just don't get it as a matter of rationality or dispassionate justice. I certainly can't see it as an act of civilization.
I said...

Perhaps capital punishment is an act of survival by the society? It is a civilized action if you consider the society to be civilized. A killer (or other form of "bad" person") is deemed to be a danger to the society as a whole. They've got a societal screw loose, and they will kill (or harm in general) the society if left free to roam. The level of harm is determined by the society as a whole. The society also gets to decide how the best remove the harmful element from it's midst. Two alternatives are life imprisonment and execution. The former is expensive and a burden to the society if the definition of "harmful" is too broad. The latter is permanent, at the risk of executing an innocent person.

Societal survival removes the true concept of punishment. People have very wide views on what proper punishment is. The views are informed by life experience and (continued) exposure to the harm represented by the harmful element. IMO there is very little rationality when punishment is discussed. For rape, some people say, "cut it off!". For sexual abuse, some people say, "throw away the key!". Meanwhile, the white-collar criminal, bankrupting thousands of people, is given a short and cushy punishment. Why these differences? I believe it gets back to the society protecting itself. It may not be "fair" to make a eunuch of the rapist, but it would keep them from performing the act again. It may not be fair to lock away a child predator forever, but it would remove the danger from society’s offspring. The danger these two types present is the very immediate to the human psyche. We don't ask the repeat bank robber to have their private parts removed, or thrown in a dank hole forever? Their crime of robbing Federally insured money does not activate our primal fears. Is it fair? Perhaps not, but then again, in the end the survival of a society seems to have little to do with rationality or dispassionate justice.

(as a side note, consider wars, removal of human rights, abuse of freedom, and so on. All stem from a society protecting itself. None of these can be very rational)

$.02 (clink)