Today's post might be helpful to those curious about whether or not a question or intent is required in order to give a meaningful tarot reading.
Interpretation of tarot cards is helpful if one has a question or concern going into the reading, but a querent doesn't necessarily need to tell the tarot reader what that question is. Granted, it makes the interpretation a bit easier for the reader and also for the querent's understanding if they can pinpoint the discussion to one topic, but it is not a requirement for a quality reading.
If one is a novice reader, then yes, I would encourage getting a base understanding of the client's primary question before attempting to read because that is one of the ways a new reader might begin to reconcile a card's meaning with a variety of circumstances. But for a seasoned reader, it is less imperative to know specifics beforehand because they already have an arsenal of understanding at their disposal and will offer a variety of applicable life circumstances that a client will be able to recognize how what is said applies to her or his life.
The thing about tarot is that no matter what cards are pulled, they will be relevant to one's life. This is a truth. Even a one card reading offers a wealth of insight into a situation. Naturally the more cards in a spread and the more talented the reader, the greater the breadth of meaningful information. One of the ideas about tarot is that each of the major arcana cards offers an archetype relate-able to human experience that is usually of greater significance than the every day details of life. The cards of the minor arcana fine tune and add nuance or support to any of the majors that are present; and if no majors are present the suggestion is that the circumstances the minor cards are addressing relate more to daily details of life.This may not be the guidelines of every reader, but it is an idea that is largely embraced. This is good information for the querent to know going into a reading because it will enable the querent to ask meaningful follow-up questions or to know if the cards are relating to a major situation in one's life or more the day to day aspects of life.
Oftentimes, when a client does not articulate a question and wants a general reading, the meaning of the reading becomes clear to her/him once the reader begins the interpretation. In fact, sometimes not posing a question is more beneficial to the reading because what needs to be addressed will jump right out during a reading and become crystal clear. For this reason, sometimes not revealing a question to the reader or not posing any question to the cards is very liberating. What needs to be said will pop out.
I've been reading a long time and only in rare cases (like maybe twice in forty years) will a querent tell me that the cards did not connect or make sense at all. My guess for this is either because the situation that the cards are describing hasn't occurred yet and is more something that the client should be made aware of rather than being a predictive trend; or, that the client is not aware of something that is currently happening around her or him and may in fact never find out about it except through the information in the cards. Sometimes the suggestions revealed by the cards for the best possible outcome is not the action that the client actually takes. If a querent ignores the advice offered the result will not be the outcome suggested by the reading. Free will is the greatest feature in how life evolves. Time is also a relevant thing in determining a reading's accuracy. In example, a reading about how a situation it will resolve itself is relevant to the lifespan of the situation, I always tell a querent that the time frame of the reading is the lifetime of the situation. If a young person is asking a question about the future of their current love interest, the time-frame for that question can span thirty years or more. I have married couples who dated in high school, broke up, and then reconnected thirty years later. See what I mean? Even someone who asks a question about how a relationship with a former spouse will pan out is looking at a similar time reference. If the former couple share children, their connection and experience in one another's lives can span decades. A bitter divorce may evolve into friendship decades later. For this reason, if the querent does pose a question about a situation, then a specific time-frame to the question should be part of the question rather than asking generally if the situation will be worked out. The answer might be yes, but it might take forty years to get there! (And can make a reading appear inaccurate in the short term because who will recall a tarot reading on that specific topic from decades earlier?)
For this reason I encourage my in-person clients to always take note of what is said during a reading so its relevance can be revisited. Take a photo of the spread. This is one of the aspects that make distance readings advantageous over in-person readings; most often with distance readings the reader will provide both a photo of the spread and a pdf script of the reading that the querent can referred to over and over.
When a client asks the reader to do a spread with a fully articulated intent, then the reader will interpret the content of the reading in relation to the question. Sometimes other issues will pop up if they are at the core of the issue or an underlying factor that must be addressed in order to accurately bring relevance to the question.
When a client has a question, but does not disclose it to the reader, than the client needs to apply what is said to the question in their minds and ask the reader for clarification for whether or not a card could mean this or that. Clarification after all, is the point of tarot.
The featured deck in the photo may be purchased here: http://www.loscarabeo.com/