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Rephrasing the Question

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on September 1, 2009 | Comments (9)

For quite a few years it has been the trend amongst tarot readers, authors, and teachers (myself included) to encourage readers to help their querents (person asking the question) rephrase certain types of questions. What kinds of questions did we like to rephrase?

1. Yes/No questions

2. Questions involving a third party without their consent

3. Predictions about the future

4. “What” or “When” questions

These questions are often considered less than helpful because they assume a pre-determined future and because they do not empower the querent. Questions that are favored are ones that:

1. Help the querent identify what they want

2. Give the querent guidance regarding their spiritual or personal development

3. Questions that lead to actions that the querent can take to achieve their goals

4. Questions that expand the querent’s understanding of themselves, their lives, and the situation concerning them

It is easy to see why so many tarotists favor the latter questions. Most of us do not believe in a pre-determined future and most of us believe that we do have a considerable amount of power over our own lives. We believe that the cards can be most helpful to people when used in these ways.

Yet, most readers will agree that in general the most commonly asked questions are about love and money/career. And not necessarily “what can I do to draw love into my life” or “what steps can I take to prepare and find a better job.” The questions begin as “will someone come into my life?” and “when will I find work?”

In the past, I have always worked with querents to rephrase these questions. Sometimes they are satisfied and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they just want their question answered. Oddly, I’ve grown less and less comfortable with rephrasing. So much so that I’ve taken a hiatus from reading for others until I find a solution that I’m happy with. I do not want to be “just a fortune teller,” especially if aspects of fortune telling are at odds with my beliefs. But I don’t want to tell people that they shouldn’t want to know what they want to know. Ya know?

Where do you stand on this? Has your opinion about rephrasing changed over time?

Reader Comments

Written By Teresa Michelsen
on September 8th, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

A long time ago!! You probably don’t remember, but I actually wrote a section on this in the Complete Tarot Reader. In short, I prefer an approach where you don’t rephrase the question, but instead design your spread and phrase your answer in an empowering way or one that ensures that the ultimate decision is up to them. Unless the question is truly egregious, in which case I don’t do it at all, and ask them for a different one (still their choice).

Written By Barbara Moore
on September 11th, 2009 @ 11:09 am

Thanks, Teresa! I’ll go back and look at The Complete Tarot Reader. 🙂 I find it helpful to re-read my tarot books every once in a while, as it is impossible to remember everything the first time around!

Written By Simone Pantaleo
on September 11th, 2009 @ 5:42 pm

Hi Barbara,

I personally try to work out what the underlying issue is to the question that is given, then if it doesn’t make sense to them try and rephrase the question in my mind in such a way that will come away feeling empowered from the reading as i have worked out the underlying issue and how it can be addressed.

I also find when I do reading circles at a well known tarot forum I am a member of, The question is sometimes very very specific also which also helps people in not having to rephrase the question in the 1st place (and also helps me with addressing the issues at hand as i know what i need to read on)


ps. When will llewellyn do a tarot almanac again?!? 🙂

Written By Barbara Moore
on September 14th, 2009 @ 11:04 am

Simone, the reading circle sounds interesting…so everyone gets a reading on the same question? Regarding the tarot almanac, tune in tomorrow for post on that topic. I’ll be asking you all some questions about it. 🙂

Written By Simone Pantaleo
on September 15th, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

Hi Barbara,

the reading circles im in with regards to tarot are varied with regards to questions and what decks they work with (some reading circles/groups for example use erotic decks some have an what I term an open deck policy and all points in between), they are there as a learning circles which means both beginners right through to advanced tarot readers learn off each other

They are located at the aeclectic tarot forums which are at http://www.tarotforums.net if you want to check them out (give me a nudge there also if you would like my username there is simsy)


Written By Barbara Moore
on September 16th, 2009 @ 7:55 am

Hi Simone, I am on aeclectic, too. It’s a very active and interesting community. I haven’t, though, participated in any reading circles, but they would certainly be good practice. (my aeclectic username is Lady LuluB).

Written By Simone Pantaleo
on September 16th, 2009 @ 9:44 am

Hi Barbara,

I have found the reading circles for tarot a very good way of working with all aspects of the cards as its a weekly thing and you work with different people, questions etc and because the more experenced readers are working with total newbies the newbies are gaining the experence and the wisdom of the more experenced readers and you learn so much that way and as a result i have found my card reading skills over all (regardless of where i am using oracle or tarot decks) has improved a lot since i started working in the circles just because you get feedback and stuff like that


Written By steven larock
on October 2nd, 2009 @ 5:58 am

I think that you are giving this way too much thought. So much so, that you may get stuck, or actually block the transmission of the divine… lol
I have the querant ask me a question, in the form of a phrase… then I just go with it. The reading is going to be on whatever is “Really” neaded for the person to hear. Haven’t you had a reading where the underlying “Issue” actully comes to the forefront? Sometimes having absolutly no forbearance on the question provided.
Hope that helps… 🙂

Written By Barbara Moore
on October 2nd, 2009 @ 7:20 am

Petragems, LOL. Thanks for the comment. You may be right. It wouldn’t be the first time in my life that I got tangled up in semantics and theory.

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