Questions to the Cards

Pulling just one card can be enough

There are many beliefs and traditions associated with shuffling the cards, dealing the deck and choosing just the right cards. At that stage, when you are just starting your journey with the cards, you really don't need to know these rituals. However, if you want to apply them to your practice, apply the information you find here as you see fit.

It is essential that you stop for a moment before pulling a card or cards. You don't have to meditate or call on the spirits for your help, but the essential thing is to stop and focus on the issue you want to get information about. You can be tired, angry, happy or calm - the feeling doesn't matter. Focus on your question or issue and shuffle the cards.

You can consider a question in your mind as you shuffle the cards, for example: "What do I need right now?" or "What should I pay attention to?"

tarot cards

If you are in a position where you can spread the cards in a fan shape on the table in front of you, face down, you can do so.
However, you can also spread the cards in a fan shape while holding them in your hands, like playing card games, but face away from you. Choose the card that catches your attention and feels different from the other cards. See which card you pulled and put the other cards down.

This card you chose is the answer to your question. What are the first thoughts that come to your mind? What is the feeling the image awakes in you? What's going on in the image? What colors are there? What symbols do you find in it? Is it a Major or Minor arcana card? Or is it a Court card? What is its number of the card? How do you feel when you look at the card?

Think about these and write down the things that come to mind. If you don't have the opportunity to take notes, interpret the card's message in your mind and put it into one sentence or even one word that you can write down later.

If you have a Tarot book with you (or the small guide book that came with the Tarot deck), you can check what the traditional meanings of that card are. Apply the ones that seem appropriate to you. Focus on what the card wants to tell you; what it wants to draw your attention to, what it invites you to evaluate or what new perspective it offers you.

Reading Tarot cards doesn't have to be more complicated than this.

It is highly recommended that you make notes of the cards you pull. Write down the date, the question you asked, which card you pulled and how you interpreted it. Just a few words are enough. It is extremely interesting to study these notes later, and notice how your own vision has developed. On the other hand, it is interesting to study what the messages of the cards can tell you in retrospect.

However, you shouldn't take any kind of stress from taking notes. In the beginning, the most important thing is that you grab the deck often (regardless of your mood), focus for a moment, ask a question, choose a card that feels right and summarize its meaning for yourself.

The wisdom of Tarot cards is always at your fingertips, even if your Tarot deck isn't

After you have browsed through your Tarot deck a few times, looked at the pictures and thought about the meanings of the cards, you no longer necessarily need to hold the deck at all to connect with it. It is enough to be able to recall the pictures of the cards in your mind.

Close your eyes for a moment. Think of Tarot cards and Imagine flipping through them. Turn over one card in your mind so that you can see its picture. What card is that? Most likely, a single card immediately comes to mind. Recall the image of that card as best you can. What are the first things that come to your mind from the image of the card? Does a figure, symbol or color come to mind? How do you feel when you think of the card? Think about why that card came to your mind right now? What does it tell you that you are thinking about this card right now?

The more you work with Tarot cards, the more clearly you can connect a certain card to a certain state of mind, situation and feeling, and you will quickly understand why you think about a certain card or why you are in its energy. For a beginner, this exercise can be demanding, and also causes confusion. However, it will help you gradually develop a personal relationship with the card. When a card comes up specifically from your thinking, it has a direct connection to what is happening in your mind or subconscious. When you understand this connection, it immediately brings depth to your interpretations, because then you can draw something completely your own, something personal, into the interpretation.

This exercise is also suitable for busy everyday life, because you can do it, for example, on a bus ride, while waiting at a store checkout or while taking an evening walk.

If you have time to calm down, this is a wonderful exercise to do meditatively, for example, breathing calmly and relaxing by candlelight.

However, the point is that you don't need a special time or place to get in touch with the Tarot cards, and they always travel with you in your mind, wherever you go, and are always ready to help you if you turn to them.

Over time, some cards may become important pillars or anchors for you. For example, some card may remind you of your own strength and skills, some card may mean overcoming adversity for you, and some may mean calming down in your own safe haven. By thinking about these cards that are important to you, you can connect with them, even if you don't have a chance to pull a card from the deck. This can serve as an important resource, for example in challenging situations, or if you are confused or unsure.

Option A and Option B

Tarot cards are really useful, for example, in situations where we are considering a choice between two or more options. They can bring out perspectives or hidden things in a situation that we haven't noticed to think about at all.

At its simplest, you can pull just two cards, one to tell about each option. You get a lot of information this way too.

However, if you want depth to this, you can, for example, create three questions regarding each option and pull one card as an answer to each question. The questions can be, for example, the following:

How do I feel about this option right now?
What am I still not seeing about this option?
What is the most important lesson for me from this option?

By asking the cards these questions and pulling one card for each question, you will get accurate answers.
I dare to say that after pulling the cards, you have gained new perspectives on both options, and the choice may be easier to make based on that.

Broad questions and a large number of cards

As a Tarot reader myself, I find interpretations that generally ask a broad question, for example "What would be the best solution for me at this moment?" really challenging, if multiple cards are pulled as an answer. I feel that in these situations it becomes challenging to understand what the cards actually answering to. Do the cards describe all the issues or motivations related to the answer, or do they reveal the past of the situation, or the characteristics of the questioner?

For me, it is much clearer to make interpretations in such a way that each card answers a certain question, or in broader general interpretations the "position" of each card has some defined meaning, for example "the past", "subconscious" or "your strength".

Consider which way works for you. If you find that you are a skilled storyteller who can easily create a logical and comprehensible narrative from a large number of cards, you have a great gift. However, I would say that most of us readers rely on clear, defined questions.

What kind of questions should you ask Tarot cards?

Each Tarot reader gradually develops a unique way of asking questions. Some of us may use Tarot cards, for example, to determine the timing of various events (for example, when will I move to a new apartment, or when would be the best time to go on a trip?), or the cards can also be asked questions to which we want an affirmative or negative answer (yes/no). The cards may also be used to search for lost objects, and in fact you can say that only the sky is the limit here, what the cards can be used for.

It is important to find a suitable way to ask questions, and that can be found through practice. I myself do not predict the future, and thus I do not ask timing questions, nor do I personally believe that Tarot cards are at their best when asked questions with a limited yes or no answer.

I think that we have free will, and that we build our own future, in every choice and decision we make (or avoid making them). Therefore, I myself ask the so-called "open questions" that leave enough room for interpretation and for which there is no limited right or wrong answer. In my opinion, Tarot cards are at their best when it comes to these types of questions and answering them.

Here are some of my typical questions:

What do I need right now?
What should I pay special attention to?
Why am I feeling this way right now?
What am I not aware of, or what should I be aware of?
How could I personally influence X in such a way that it would develop in the direction I wanted?
What should I do now?
Is there something from my past that is holding me back from moving forward?
What would be important to let go of now?
How can I get the most support for my situation?
What new perspective would be important right now?

The list could go on forever, but I believe that based on these questions, you will already understand how I use the Tarot cards myself. For me, they are primarily a tool for personal development.

After asking one of the above-mentioned questions, I often pull another card to describe how I actually can influence my situation. That is, what can I concretely do. This way I receive guidance on what would be important for me to do in practice, and what would be the right direction going forward.

In my own Tarot work, I always pull only one card to answer a question. I like that both the question and the answer are clearly defined.

You can do an exercise where you choose one of the questions mentioned above and pull one card as the answer. Feel free to interpret the answer and make short notes. After that, ask what you can concretely do about it, and pull one card as an answer to this question as well. Record your notes.

You can think about how this way of working made you feel, and whether you found the answer you were looking for. The essential thing is that, even in such a simple way, you can get a significant benefit from the Tarot cards to support your own thinking and decision-making.

The Celtic Cross

Certainly one of the most famous Tarot spreads is The Celtic Cross. You should try this as a traditional version as well, but I personally prefer the version that I modified to suit me better. I am not presenting the traditional version here, but my own variation.

This spread works best when you want to broadly understand an issue or situation, and get new perspectives on it.

My version includes the following meanings for the cards, and it doesn't matter what layout you place them in.

  1. This card describes the present moment or the situation you want to look at with the help of the cards
  2. This card shows how things that happened in the past affect you or your situation in the present
  3. This card shows the subconscious reason why you want to ask the cards for more information, or what interests you subconsciously in your situation right now
  4. This card encapsulates something that could at best be achievable based on your situation or present moment
  5. This card shows the near future, i.e. what your current actions seem to be taking you towards (remember that you can always influence what you do and thus your future!)
  6. This card shows what worries you the most in the present moment or in your situation
  7. This card tells you how people around you feel about your situation or see you
  8. This card shows your dreams. It shows what you truly are dreaming about in the present moment.
  9. This card summarizes what is the most important thing or action that would take you in the direction you want

The key thing when doing a reading is that you are aware of your own possibilities of influence. If a card gives you a worried feeling, remember that you can influence the direction your future will take. You are in no way at the mercy of the cards.

This spread can also be taken a step further, for example by choosing the cards that seem most challenging to you from the nine cards you pulled. You can choose, for example, two or three cards that feel challenging. Think about why it is that they seem to evoke in you the feeling that they may be more difficult to handle. After that, choose as many cards that feel positive and empowering, so that each of them is like a counter force to the challenging card you have chosen.

Here's a short example: Let's say you chose the 4 of Swords as a challenging card because you feel that your thinking often revolves around a negative circle, and it's hard for you to get peace from your thoughts. In order to balance the energy of this card, you can choose one of the cards you chose to counter this card. For example, it could be 2 of Pentacles, which could tell, for example, that by prioritizing the things you do in everyday life, you get more space to focus on your thinking and how to control its spirals.

The above-described way of further refining the traditional Celtic Cross spread is adapted from Mary K. Greer's book Tarot for Your Self, where she describes several different ways to get a new perspective on this traditional spread. A huge recommendation for this one!

A reading with which you can deepen the meaning of the card you have chosen for you

One wonderful way to deepen your relationship with a certain Tarot card is to think about questions that would reveal the meaning of the card for you. Below is an example of how, for example, the Hermit card could be approached from this point of view.

Find the card you want from the deck and put it on the table in front of you. Think about what thoughts come to mind about it and formulate them into questions. Here is my example of the thoughts the Hermit card evoked in me, based on which I formed the following questions:

  1. What is the most important thing for me to stop at now?
  2. From what past experience can I draw strength for this self-reflection?
  3. What kind of special skills do I have that I can share with others and from which others will also benefit?
  4. What is my next step forward that I can already see?
  5. What kind of change is possible for me after sufficient self-reflection?

Formulate the questions that seem appropriate to you or use the questions above when working with the Hermit card. Pull one Tarot card for each question as an answer. Consider how the answers deepen your relationship with that card.

Finally, you can ask:

  1. What is the most important message of the card in question (i.e. in this case the Hermit) for me right now?
  2. What action would take me in a direction where I could implement the guidance of this card's (in this case, the Hermit's) message?

In this way, you can get to know a certain card more deeply, as well as get an insight into what the message of that card is for you right now. You get to form a closer and more personal relationship with it. This spread is especially useful if you have a card that often repeats itself, or if a card in particular is on your mind.