Previously I looked at a list of ten common “commandments” concerning formation of a proper question for card divination. This is advice commonly given to readers of tarot, Lenormand, playing cards and most other oracles. I don’t necessarily believe all these things are required, at least not as commonly advised. You may or may not believe in following these yourself. This series is my exploration of these common guidelines about forming a question which I called the Ten Commandments of Cartomancy Questions.

This post is a continuation and the previous entries are linked below for your convenience. Again, these are points often made to students of cartomancy, and this series is taking a look at whether I find them relevant for my own practice.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Let’s wrap up and look at the rest of the “commandments” of the question. Shall we?

6. Thou shall rephrase an improperly formed question from another.

The idea for this one is to help the querent ask a meaningful and relevant question. That is, I want to make sure the querent is asking a question that I can answer. A divination is not going to be any better than the question asked; garbage in means garbage out. So if Susie wants to know about Kenneth in her life but can’t formulate it clearly, she likely needs some help to ask precisely what she wants to know.

This is a tricky one though, because while we want good questions, the reader’s style will impact the question. “Does Kenneth love me?” is perfectly acceptable to some readers. Others will insist on rewording this into an affirmation style: “What can I do to be more loveable?” This latter is the most common guidance I see, and it is meant to empower the client while often avoiding the need to predict. Is it a good practice? It depends on the style of readings and services you want to provide for the sitter.

I think there is a fine line between helping the client formulate a useful question that will receive an answer from the cards, and totally changing what the client wants to know. As a reader I shouldn’t impose my belief system or presuppositions on a querent.

7. Thou shall not asketh of the future, for only fortune-tellers do that.

This ties into the previous guideline, and it depends on personal beliefs and reading style. I admit cringing when I see certain zealots touting how wrong it is to predict because we can’t see the future. Their litany is that fortune-telling gives us all a bad name because of scam artists who predict curses so they can charge a hefty fee to remove the problems from the client’s life. I see nothing wrong with speaking of likely outcomes. Analysts and weather forecasters (I chose that word on purpose!) do this and nobody thinks twice about it.

I think I also enjoy the challenge of putting myself on the line. If I predict something, then I’m either going to be right or wrong. I work at my craft to try to be right more often than not. 🙂

Some people believe cards are simply a psychological tool and that’s okay. They will get clients who need self-exploration help, while letting those of us willing to forecast as well as explore and advise — always per the cards, of course — get our clients.

8.Thou shall not ask questions requiring professional knowledge thou doth lack.

If not for ethical reasons, then legal ones make this commandment important. If you’re not trained in law, finance or medicine then it makes sense to stay away from areas like these. Giving somebody bad advice that causes them trouble is a quick way to a lawsuit. Generalities are considered safe, but it’s best to know the laws in your area and be sure to follow them.

9. Thou may not ask questions of a general nature.
10. Thou may ask questions of a general nature.

These last two are meant to show the conflict of thought regarding general readings. Some people love them, some hate them. I have no preference.

Some methods or systems probably function best with a question, even if it’s generic for a generalized reading: How will 2011 be for me? Where should I look to improve my life right now? What will happen to me in the next six months?

Tarot readers can often focus a general reading by considering predominant suits, and using that to speak of a life area. Geomancers can do the twelve-house spread and apply it to a set period of time, such as a year. Playing card readers who use elements can do like the tarot; or they could do a twelve-house spread instead. There are ways to go about this, but I find that some constraints are necessary, no matter how generalized one wants to get.

So there is a lot of variance with how to handle requests for a general reading, and it varies not only with reader, but with system used.

Of course, that is true of all of these “commandments.” Each one has variances and in practice, it is down to each reader to decide what kinds of questions work for her; her chosen style of tool; and her clients.