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Tarot Questions Instead of Answers

June 8, 2014

3 CARD FAN -- Tarot of the MastersWhen we think of Tarot cards in terms of questions and answers, we typically think of ourselves as asking the questions and the cards as giving the answers, but is that the only way they can help us? What if we give the cards a chance to ask the questions instead? Perhaps that can be just as helpful. Here’s how.

Have you ever noticed what we tend to talk about most? We gossip about other people, we complain about our problems, and we speculate on mundane events happening around us. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but what about more complex and esoteric concepts and ideas? What about issues concerning life and death, basic questions about the human condition? Such discussions are often how we really get to know another person, yet we seldom immerse ourselves in such deep waters. So if our conversations merely glide across the surface of life, won’t our relationships tend to be superficial as well?

Here is where Tarot cards come in. Each of the cards can suggest a question (or two or three) that can stimulate a thought-provoking discussion of depth and great interest. The meanings you associate with a card can suggest questions or the image on the card can stimulate your imagination to come up with a topic of conversation. Use whatever works for you. (Note that the latter method means that anyone can do this; you don’t have to be a Tarot expert at all.)

So here’s a suggestion. Sit down with someone and pull a card. Next, take a moment for both of you to use that card to think of a question or topic to explore. Then one of you asks your question to start a conversation. After you feel you’ve sufficiently explored that topic, move on to the other person’s question. (You can repeat this for as many cards as you like.) I guarantee that you’ll get to know the other person better because you won’t just be exploring a topic; you’ll be exploring the other person’s heart and mind too. In fact, you’ll probably discover a thing or two about yourself as well while you are exploring a topic you might not have thought much about before. (If you’d like to make such conversations even better, I recommend an article titled “10 Ways to Have a Better Conversation”)

By the way, you can use this technique with groups of three or more people also; it’s not just for two people.

To better explain what I’m talking about, here are some sample questions for some of the cards:

The Fool:
What dreams do you wish you had followed? What kept you from taking a leap of faith to pursue them?

The Magician:
Do you believe in miracles?

The High Priestess:
What do you think dreams are? Are they messages from God, or maybe from your subconscious mind? Do you believe they mean something? What was the most recent dream you had and what do you think its message was?

The Empress:
What’s your favorite memory of your mother from your childhood, and why?

The Emperor:
What’s your favorite memory of your father from your childhood, and why?

The Hierophant:
What’s the role of religion in your life … or in our culture?

The Lovers:
What is love?
This may sound like an easy question, but it has all sorts of levels of complexity to explore. For example, does love really exist? (Some people think it’s a myth.) Is it about how we feel about another person or is it defined by how we treat each other? How do you know when you’re in love? Etc.

The Chariot:
What do you think most defines success in your life — a happy relationship, a great career, leaving a mark in the world, or what?

What is the most courageous thing you ever did? Why did you do it?

The Hermit:
Are you lonely when you’re alone?

The Wheel of Fortune:
What role do you think Fate plays in our lives?

Do you believe in Karma? What do you think it is?
(If you want some thoughts on that topic that you might discuss, see my post about this card from a while ago.)

The Hanged Man:
Carl Jung said, “What we resist persists.” Why do you think that’s so?

If you could have a conversation with just one person in your life who has died, who would it be and what would you talk about?

To what extent should we practice “temperance” (i.e., moderation) in our lives? Why is it important that we do so?

The Devil:
What is “evil”? Do you think anyone is truly evil, or do some people act in ways we call “evil” because they are emotionally wounded or misguided?

The Tower:
It is said that “life begins just outside your comfort zone.” Where is your comfort zone and how are you imprisoned in it? How can you escape from it?

The Star:
What is your greatest hope at this time? What vision do you have that will help you bring that hope to life?

The Moon:
What’s your biggest fear?

The Sun:
Are you optimistic about your life? Why or why not? Do you think optimism brings good fortune or is it foolish to be optimistic?

The Bible says “Judge not lest ye be judged.” What do you think that means?

The World:
What do you think is the best thing you can do for the world?

Now let me suggest some questions for one of the suits. Perhaps I’ll do another blog post with questions for the other suits sometime, but for now, these questions (along with the ones above for the Major Arcana) should give you a good enough idea of how this can work.

Ace of Swords:
Do our thoughts create our reality? How do they do that?

Two of Swords:
How often do we consciously make a choice about our actions versus just traveling along blindly on autopilot? In fact, if our brains are a computer that’s been programmed by our experiences, do we really make any decisions at all, or are our “choices” predetermined by that pre-programmed computer?

Three of Swords:
Why do we say things that hurt people? Is the truth more important than the feelings of other people?

Four of Swords:
What do you think it would be like if you spent an entire day away from the electronic distractions of our lives, such as the Internet, your cell phone, and TV?

Five of Swords:
When is it best to just walk away from an argument?

Six of Swords:
It is said that “it is the journey that matters, not the destination.” What do you think?

Seven of Swords:
Consider the quote: “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” — T. B. Macaulay
What kinds of things would you do if you knew you’d never be found out? For example, would you steal something?

Eight of Swords:
Can we overcome the limitations we believe about ourselves? How can we do that?

Nine of Swords:
We’ve all had the experience of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about something, haven’t we? Why do we do that, even though we’d be better off just going back to sleep and dealing with things in the morning?

Ten of Swords:
Why does it seem that sometimes we have to hit rock bottom before we start to work on solving our problems?

Page of Swords:
If you could learn one new thing or one new skill what would it be?

Knight of Swords:
Do we always (or ever) act rationally? Or do we just rationalize our actions?

Queen of Swords:
Our personal tragedies either make us or break us. What’s the biggest personal tragedy of your life and how did it affect you? What did you learn from it?

King of Swords:
Who is the smartest person you ever knew and what is the most important thing you’ve learned from him or her?

Okay, there you have it — a few examples of questions that the cards might ask. Use these examples as inspiration to find questions in the cards that can initiate some great discussions with friends, lovers, and family. You’ll find that this will elevate your conversations beyond mere gossip and complaints about problems, and it will expand your mind, your heart, and your relationships.  And if you would like to see some sample “conversational Tarot” discussions, there are now several posted on my blog for you to read. (Feel free to join in on any of those discussions!)

  1. Really thought provoking, James! I love this idea of letting the cards ask people important philosophical questions, often obscured under the quotidian round. It’s also an engagement which might disclose and refigure a lot of assumptions underpinning attitudes to everyday concerns. Wonderful post.

    • Thank you, Donna. If you try it out and have an interesting experience with this technique, I’d love to hear about it.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. News about the Fool, Hermit, and Sun | James Ricklef's Tarot Blog
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