The “Environmental” Yes-or-No Answer

I’m mildly amused by people who say “Tarot isn’t meant for yes-or-no questions.” I suspect that back in the 18th and 19th Centuries (before we went “all psychological and spiritual” with it) tarot wasn’t used for much else but binary questions. The cards will basically do anything we require of them as long as we approach the inquiry in the right way. Rather than asking “Will I find my true love in the near future?” we can always ask “Are conditions favorable over the next month or so for pursuing my love interests?” In that sense the reading will give an “environmental” yes-or-no perspective based on all the cards in the spread rather than a narrow, black-or-white verdict, which should be much more useful in our quest. However, questions that are too open-ended can invite over-reliance on noncommittal “weasel words” and margin-of-error “fudge factors.” In such cases the “guesstimate” may create confusion and do more harm than good.

I don’t think it’s necessarily as simple as rewording the question so it can’t possibly receive a straightforward “yes” or “no” answer, which seems like ducking the issue. Querents want to know in plain language how they should proceed, and putting them off with “Ask yourself what you need to do to deserve it” isn’t going to satisfy them. They seek at least an inkling of whether or not the Universe is on their side. Looking at the “full plate” served up by a detailed spread will normally show whether the situation will trend one way or the other; after that the specifics can be mined for actionable advice. If there is a random “scatter” of influences (jumbled suits, numbers, elements, ranks, correspondences, etc) such that no clear bias emerges, that is still useful information; either the situation is “up for grabs” and ripe for any initiative, or it will be difficult to gain traction for the time being. Therefore, the querent can either dive right in with no expectations and see what happens, or just “lay low” and wait it out.

As discussed in a recent post, I’m a big fan of the “gestalt” overview as the initial take on a reading since it can show the overarching atmosphere, environment or “theme” of the circumstances leading up to the outcome. If there are more encouraging cards than discouraging ones (or even just a small handful of benevolent cards placed in strategically auspicious positions), I’m inclined to be upbeat in my observations about the chances for a favorable result. While I won’t say “Yes” or “No” in unequivocal terms, I will “cheer-lead” when I think it’s justified and be much more circumspect in my opinions when I don’t. The goal is not to lead our clients by the nose (which may result in misleading them) but to give them a window on how the scenario is likely to play out if no intervention is made. They can then intervene or not as they deem necessary or appropriate. Knowing the “topographical” lay of the metaphysical landscape (symbolic peaks, valleys, plateaus, etc), they can plot an intelligent course to the best possible destination.

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