Are Yes or No Questions a Yes or a No?
Glance through any online tarot study group and you will most certainly find a variety of opinions about posing yes or no questions of tarot. Some readers are sure that tarot simply can’t answer yes or no questions effectively. Others believe that if tarot has merit, we must be able to use it to answer any sort of question. Many readers discover or create techniques to answer yes/no questions, with varying degrees of success. Some experienced readers wisely warn that if you focus only on getting a yes/no answer you might miss the greater wisdom that would be made available by asking an open-ended question.
One thing that many find helpful is the technique of rephrasing a question. Very often we use this technique to avoid the yes/no. For example, any yes/no question that begins with a word like “Will” or “Should” or “Does” can easily be rephrased to “What do I need to know about…”
But, is there harm in asking the question first exactly as you wanted to phrase it – a yes or no question – just to see what comes up?
One thing that seems to be increasingly true for me over the years is that with tarot, all-or-nothing or always-or-never rarely seems to be helpful. Very often my answer to students who ask questions about whether tarot can or will work in certain ways is “Sometimes”!
I think many of us work best with tarot when we apply a “Let’s see what happens” approach. I also know that the best readers are able to use a vast array of techniques in their practice. That way, when one technique does not yield a clear answer, another technique can be employed.
When I have a yes/no question, I start by simply asking that question, and pulling a card. Sometimes the answer is very clear. Sometimes it’s not.
If the answer isn’t clear, I take that to mean that the situation isn’t simple enough to warrant a yes/no answer. Then, it is time to fashion a series of questions about the issue at hand, or to create a full spread for that issue.
I have often seen tarotists dismayed and discouraged when they felt that tarot did not answer their question in an understandable way. Yet, this situation is easily remedied by using a disappointing divination as a jumping-off point for a new, deeper divination.
Suppose your question is “Will I get the job I applied for?” and the card you pull in answer is the Ace of Pentacles. To me, in the context of the question, that would be a solid and emphatic yes. You might have other questions about the job. You can feel free to ask them and pull cards or do a spread to answer them.
Suppose, though, that the card you received in answer to that question didn’t feel like a clear yes or no. Suppose the card you pulled was the Hanged Man, or the Nine of Wands. When this happens, you can assume the situation is a bit complicated. Now it’s time to ask open-ended questions such as “What do I need to know about this job?” Perhaps you want to create a spread or perform a dialogue with questions about the job, your career path, and what you can expect.
If we are willing to let tarot answer the way it can, we can begin our divination with any sort of question. If we accept that one possible answer might be “Let’s dig deeper”, there is no way we can go wrong!