THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SPECIFIC QUESTION

It would not be unfair to say that about 50 percent of my cartomancy teaching is dedicated to making a point about formulating a question.

What is also part of my teaching is the insistence that we must constantly refer back to the question while unpacking the reasoning that must go into accounting for first impressions, so that they are solid and consistent in the end.

While the impression comes first, what’s more important is finding in the cards the evidence that backs it up. You want your final judgment to flow not float.

Also, I don’t just make polarized claims à la ‘the question is not important’, or ‘the question is crucial’. I’m not interested in claims. What I’m interested in is how I can demonstrate just how wrong we can go with a poorly formulated question, and hence, why it’s necessary to not only think about what we’re asking, but also about how exactly we put it. So I give utmost primacy to the words that go into it.

This means that if a client asks about the East, I don’t deliver a message about how things are in addition, and what the status quo is in the North, South, and the West. Being all over the map doesn’t mean adding value to my readings.

The general question

I won’t launch into any details here about my example-driven teaching, but I thought I’d refer to a recent reading that started with this statement:

“I experience loss of energy. How can I prevent it?”

Now, as much as this question is fine enough, and I might as well have read the damn cards for it, I must say that I spent about half an hour talking about concretizing the loss of energy. How does it manifest? What’s the story here? Loss of energy can be many things.

The client wasn’t sure and got increasingly frustrated, but I pressed on with follow-up questions, questions of conflict and unease.

Finally the specific was delivered in a burst:

“People take advantage of me, and I fall for pretence all the time. I’m so tired of it.”

Well, thank you. Now we’re cooking with gas.

The client was grateful too, as he acknowledged that this was what he really wanted to ask, but couldn’t find the words for it because he couldn’t put the finger on it.

I explained that this inability to formulate what we really want to know is quite normal, as it’s linked to the manifestation of some form of denial. For instance, whenever we’re confronted with the possibility that others take advantage of us, we don’t really want to believe it. Because we repress the idea, we end up in a gullible state. The physical manifestation of gullibility is lack of words and an incapacity to formulate a reason for what we have to admit is foolishness.

I put down three cards from Arc Tarot:

The Cosmopolitan, the Disciple, and the Writer suggested that one way in which one can prevent the situation of being taken advantage of is through reduction of belief.

You don’t believe the whole world about what you’re told. You take one word of it, and investigate it. It’s about self-reliance, not all-reliance.

The whole world, the globus, must become a spiral walk towards one goal only, namely, that of discerning. Discernment doesn’t arise in vacuum. It must be exercised. An entry point to exercising the art of discerning is to question your beliefs. All of them.

Why do we believe that people are not out to get us? Why do we believe that people are out to get us? Are people’s motivations and acts towards us a matter of what we believe? Hardly ever.

You avoid energy loss when you sit down and reflect on why others taking advantage of you. What are you discovering? Write it down. Unless you’re into automatic writing – and even then – all writing is the result of reflecting.

At the same time, the written word can also function as proof of what others say. Ask for it, instead of wasting energy on speculating on what the real deal is. If written proof cannot be provided, though it exists, then you know what to do next.

The client was happy with this picture, as he was happy with what I said next: No one is on top of the world. What we all do is put one foot in front of the other, and carry out the task of living.

Now, had I answered the initial, not so specific question about loss of energy, I’m pretty certain that would I have missed the premise for whole the situation, here, one of relational conflict, the client against the one taking advantage.

I might have answered something pertaining to the client’s general stress with the world, advising in consequence to a retreat in a Zen garden where one can write waka poetry.

While this answer is backed up by the imagery on these cards here, and is thus satisfactory in that regard, it doesn’t address the more pressing issue.

My point is that it pays off to insist on specificity in the questions asked, down to the ad verbatim formulations, and thus get to the core of what a cartomantic session is all about, namely, intelligently addressing and solving conflicts.

About conflict: If you want to know more about cartomancy and conflict, the Advanced Lenormand module will be open for registration next week. It’s a topical course about reading the grand tableau with an eye for different types of conflict. Stay tuned for the call as the registration will stay open for only three days. Class starts next Saturday.

About Arc Tarot: This is a tarot created as a gift for the cartomantic community. I myself, Merete Veian, and Nicholas Maher designed it and produced it in one fine afternoon on top of a mountain in Norway. If you get it from the Make Playing Cards website, what you pay is just the production cost, as there’s no profit involved for any of us. For more examples of how you can read with this Tarot, you’re welcome to see my Patheos essay on it.

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