Tarot Talk: Giving Answers vs Providing Guidance by Melinda Lee Holm

When I was first learning Tarot as a young teen, the thing that really hooked me was the symbology. This whole complex visual language, at times related to the myths and fairy tales I had grown up reading, other times completely new and unfamiliar. The grammar of it drew me in. I wanted to know what every symbol meant, how to link the cards together in spreads to form coherent sentences. I wanted to hold all of the decoders and find all of the answers. I read books and studied charts and dutifully recorded my findings. And yet, I often remained slightly confused. Was I interpreting the answers correctly? And once I had these answers, what did that mean? What was I supposed to do with this information? And the heaviest of all – what if I had stumbled in my translation and gotten the message wrong? It would take me another 20 years to fully understand how much I’d missed in my search for answers and to develop instead a teachable method for providing guidance. It may seem at first like a small semantic point, but the difference between giving answers and providing guidance is vast. Moving away from the former and toward the latter will enrich your relationship with the Tarot and yourself and is the key to moving from being a good reader to becoming a great reader and indispensable ally for spiritual seekers.

In practice, most querents will ask for answers. Should I quit my job? Is this partner right for me? Will I get rich this year? The pressure to answer the question as asked can be intense. As readers, most of us were drawn to Tarot because we want to help. Sitting across the table, looking into the tear-streaked face of someone in need, all we want is to give information to relieve the pain and confusion. But, as I see it, that is not our job. It is easy enough to draw a card and determine a yes/no answer to a question like “Should I quit my job?”. Most knowledgeable readers will get an intuitive hit one way or the other from any card in the deck. But where does that leave the querent? With one piece of information that may or may not be actionable in a practical sense and no aftercare plan. Our job is something greater. We are here to provide guidance.

I use this job question as an example because it has come up a LOT over my years of reading.  I have definitely succumbed to the pressure to give a simple answer in the past and always felt a little off about it (and was immediately asked a slew of follow up questions). These days, when confronted with stark yes or no questions from clients, I know immediately that we are dealing with something much larger. The question is an invitation to an avenue of inquiry, not a demand that must be fulfilled. So instead of answering the question as asked, I say something like “Let’s look at your work life generally and then we can get into more specifics if we need more information. Does that sound ok?” and the reply is always, without exception, an emphatic yes. I use the same phrasing when reading for myself. It can be so tempting to seek a quick fix, but those moments of questioning are always tied into the larger scheme of our lives and we must acknowledge that and look at it holistically if we are to truly be channels of Spirit here on Earth.

Life is more complex than a series of binary choices and the array of options is rarely as narrow or as broad as it seems. When we view our role as readers as caring guides, it not only lessens the pressure of being “right”, it allows us to be of higher service to our clients and ourselves. Information is nothing without a plan of action. Providing guidance means first analyzing all of the influences surrounding a particular situation and determining which of those influences – alone and in combination – is helping or hindering progress towards the goal. Then, we can collaborate with the querent on concrete practical steps they can take to draw in the best supportive energy and lessen the negative impact of any challenges – all in accordance with their highest good, our highest good, and the good of all beings of course. Guidance is open ended. It allows for agency. When we provide guidance, we acknowledge that this is the way the map looks now, but as you move through the terrain and make choices, things may shift. As readers, providing guidance means stepping out of a position of authority and into the role of adviser.

This sounds more complicated than it is. Once you get the hang of it, your readings will feel more like a conversation between a group of great supportive friends (you, the querent, and both of your guides) and less like doctor and patient. You will feel less pressure to be right and ease into being more caring and supportive. Your friends and clients (and you!) will walk away from each reading feeling more empowered and better informed than ever before. You’ll begin to see your spreads as poetry, full of nuance and subtlety, with many layers of interconnected meaning. You’ll find yourself saying things like “I’d like to talk about how we can invite more of this Water energy in” and “This is a great opportunity to draw up that Emperor vibe sitting in the subconscious.”  Mostly, you’ll have more room to breathe and be fully in the moment. We are all better readers when we are grounded in the present, in tune with our intuition, feeling our emotions, clear in our internal and external communications, and connected to Spirit.

I am not psychic. Deeply empathic, but not psychic. I have never had the benefit of clear sight into situations I have no knowledge of, so instead I have to rely purely on reading the cards on the table. Out of this necessity grew the gifts of the fluency I have in the language of Tarot and the wisdom that lead me to focus on providing guidance over giving answers. There are many ways in to working with Tarot wisdom in this way. Once you have a solid basic foundation of the vocabulary and the grammar,  I can help you explore different paths to making the cards sing for you and your clients.

So, should you quit your job? Maybe! Let’s look at the energies surrounding that area of your life…

If you’d like to learn more about providing guidance through Tarot and increase your literacy, join Melinda for Intermediate Tarot: Working the Elements June 12 7-9pm RSVP