A Piece of My Mind: Trick Questions

By Jeanne Fiorini

“How accurate are you?” 

Four little words that can put a Tarot reader on the spot in a split second. As if it were the racetrack and all calls are determined by bookies and percentages. As if a reading were a large dartboard and the goal was to hit a bull’s eye with each and every shot. As if clients wore ankle bracelets to monitor every post-session activity. Sometimes it feels as though no response to a particular query will be authentic because of the nature of the question.

Yes, sometimes clients ask trick questions. They usually don't intend to be tricky, but they are coming to a session with a misunderstanding about what a reading is, due to their own misconceptions and/or those perpetuated by our culture and reinforced by the media. In situations such as these, I’m reminded of a line spoken by a psychic in a new sitcom: “What do you think I am, OnStar?” Or the wise words of my friend Josephine: ”If you want a guarantee, buy a toaster.”

The first line of defense against trick questions is to be wary of any query containing the words “supposed to.” For instance, someone once asked me, "How many children am I supposed to have?" Oh geez. There are so many levels on which this question is a problem. 

Problem Number One is the belief system that holds that somewhere, maybe written on a big blackboard up in the sky, are all the correct answers to life’s questions. The message then becomes, “You’d better pick from one of these pre-approved options or you’re screwed.” I don't happen to buy into that concept, so immediately there’s trouble.

Problem Number Two is that the reading now feels like a game where the reader is backed into a corner of having to guess how many children she actually does have (or wants to have or thinks she should have), and how that might fit with whatever cards we pull on the question.

Problem Number Three is trying to figure out if it's best to just work with the question as it was posed, or get into a discussion of semantics and ownership of personal power and about who/what is really in control of one’s life. In this particular instance – and unless I know the client well - I’m likely to put forth a disclaimer such as, “let’s just see which cards we get and go from there,” before diving in.

Some lines of questioning just make me feel sad, like when people ask, “Is Person X the right person for me?” This relates back to the “supposed to” problem and the blackboard in the sky, but on a deeper level points to the profound way that most of us don’t trust ourselves –or know ourselves well enough - to make good decisions all on our own. 

Most of us were never really given tools to make a personal choice without the stamp of approval from Mom or Dad or Boss or Guru or someone even it’s a Tarot reader. We do our children a great disservice by not teaching them to listen to their inner truth and guidance. But that’s a subject for another article.

And then there’s the dreaded “WHEN?” “When will this relationship work out?”  ”When will I get what I need?” ”When will this horribly challenging period in my life be over?” We’ve perhaps even been asked to answer the question, “When will I die?” I don’t ever go there with a client, invoking Chapter 12/Paragraph 17/Line 3 of the Readers Rights and Responsibilities Code: Right of the reader at any given moment to refuse a particular line of questioning.

But there are some “When?” questions that can be addressed, and I always preface any response here with a comment such as, “Questions about timing are notoriously tricky since things are always in flux and the universe is ever-changing and time is fluid” … etc, etc. … because it is….

Yet there is an effective way to handle issues of timing that works by approaching the thing sideways. Set intentions for certain time frames (“within a week” or “during this winter” or “sometime before my birthday”) then draw a few cards for each time frame. Do you see it show up in any of those increments? Interpret anything that looks like a “yes” in its own context; if you don’t see a “yes” you may need to adjust your time frames, or extend them farther into the future. I find this method to be much easier and more effective than asking an open-ended “When?” and having to interpret cards blindly.

A reading will ultimately reflect a reader’s mindset, worldview, personality, and experience. And so a practitioner will eventually need to choose/come to/develop a belief system that can contain responses to these kinds of client queries. Not necessarily answers, but responses. If you don’t know where you’re coming from, you’ll find yourself and your client in a vicious circle guessing game of “what if.” 


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