Which statement describes you:
- I love asking the Tarot Yes or No questions
- I dislike using the Tarot for Yes/No questions; its better suited for who, what, why and how
- I don’t like Yes/No questions because the answer might scare me
Let’s consider one of the oldest puzzles posed to card readers, the ‘he said, she said’ conundrum.
Person X claims an incident happened. Person Y says the incident did NOT happen. Both people appear credible with their statements. Both are questioned about their assertions and from what we can tell, there is little reason to doubt either. Some people have probably formed an opinion about the matter, but outwardly they want to keep an open mind.
I watch a student reader pull some cards to determine who is telling the truth about the incident. The reader asks “Did the incident occur as person X claims?” I note this. The question, stated as such, begs a YES or NO answer. The question was not “What happened?” or “How can I know the truth?” rather it was “Did it happen?”
Proverb: The question you pose determines the form in which answer will be given.
Now if you doubt this assertion, which some readers may do, why even ask a question at all? Why not simply draw a mass of cards without context and divine the perfect answer to the question that was never even asked? What use is a question in the first place, if the form of the answer has no context to the query?
Cards are a Powerful device for a Yes/No Question
If you really want a clear answer, you can simply flip a coin. Surely, a coin will unequivocally give you a concise answer. I’ve thought about this many times before reaching for the cards. Heads or tails. We are pulled towards two-valued logic. No arguments, no interpretations. Or maybe some dice. That could work. There’s no arguing with the number 5. In our hearts, as truth-seekers, we find cards more satisfactory than a coin toss when peering into these factual queries. We do this for several reasons:
- Cards can give us degrees of certainty
- Cards provide nuances in between the determinism of two-valued logic
- Cards stimulate our imagination and intuition, often giving us ideas or angles about our question that we never even considered prior
I have often heard that the cards are not good for yes/no questions. Nonsense! The cards are deeply satisfying tools for answering anything. I believe most readers who shy from yes/no questions have not learned a system for reading them, nor do I think they have practiced it using a personally meaningful methodology to gain confidence in wielding such a useful tool. There is a great amount of hesitancy when dealing with absolutes.
Back to the question
“Did the incident occur as person X claims?” The student draws three tarot and places them on the table. She begins to read a thrilling story of the incident, card-to-card, ending with a knockout punchline. “Yes,” she exclaims, “its so clear. X is telling the truth!” I look at the cards.
I’m thinking…I see something completely different.
To the student’s eyes, the cards told a sordid story; and this reader is skilled at seeing a tale within the cards. I appreciate the way the student could be so clear in her reading, and her intelligence and use of language was impeccable. It it all sounded believable. But there is one problem: the reader didn’t answer the question from the cards. Instead, she read the answer from her own story, not the tarot.
Now at this point you might be thinking that the reader did answer the question. She supplied a “YES.” In a long and roundabout way she did answer, but the source of the answer was corrupted. It is like the story that gets passed between several people, and by the time it reaches the last person, the facts have changed completely. She interpreted the cards, told a story, and then dissected her story to decide if the answer was yes or no.
Why is this problematic?
It’s problematic because we already knew the story of the incident before the reading. Persons X and Y already gave their testimonies. The student then sought the cards, [apparently because she wanted to know who was telling the truth] but instead projected the story she had already believed onto the story in the cards. If the original stories provided in X and Y’s testimonies were not adequate enough to answer the question truthfully in the mind, why on earth would another story somehow clear this up?
If you want a determinate answer, then use a determinate method. Otherwise, you will simply answer the question based on what you already believe, not what you have just discovered, whether overtly or unconsciously. And this brings me to another point:
The reader wasn’t even asking the right question that she wanted answered. What she really wanted to know was this: “Am I justified in believing what I already have judged to be true?”
I believe she had already made up her mind as to what the truth was, and the cards were simply a way to discredit the vestiges of her subconscious doubts. I suspect this, not because I have insight to her psyche, but because I know human nature and this is a common scenario. I’ve seen it in countless readers, including myself.
What to Consider When Asking Yes/no Questions
- If answering a yes or no question, your core method of reading must be as determinate as flipping a coin. Otherwise, why are you asking in the first place?
- Reading a story or meaning from a card can only give you insight to a yes/no question if you have little or no information about the situation. Reading another version of the story on top of the facts you already know creates layers of confusion, and is inherently dishonest to your intuition.
- Let the cards provide additional information and nuances, beyond the yes/no answer.
- Allow the cards to describe degrees of factual error and truth. Just as most human interactions are not as clear-cut as we would imagine, a yes/no question may have other facets to consider, and;
- allow the cards to also describe how the yes/no question may be flawed from the start. Be open to trashing the reading if you discover your question made no sense in the first place.
- If you are emotionally invested in the yes/no question, your reading is unlikely to be useful as actionable information. Most people who read yes/no questions for themselves already know the answer. So in these cases, consider the reading a meditation rather than a divination.
How to Read a Yes/No Question
- Learn a system that makes sense to you. If the system seems too convoluted, too simple, or too strange, then it is not the right system for you.
- Practice and test your divination system. Keeping a Q&A log of yes/no questions is not only valuable practice, but absolutely necessary for the student.
- Learn how your system can stretch your divinatory insight beyond the yes/no answer
- Learn the weaknesses of your yes/no system.
- Analyze how you form your yes/no questions, and how it can affect the answers you receive.