I read an interesting question on ethics by @tarotworks over on IG…

A post shared by M.Juniper August (@tarotworks) on

Tarot Ethics: How much is our personal responsibility vs. putting judgements on clients’ questions and lives? I find the whole ‘ethical professional’ reader label really problematic the more I see readers discuss ‘ethics’ amongst themsevles often times they are completely pushing their values and coming from a place of mystical ‘parenting’ or ‘I know better/am wise/have divine foresight’ in the creation of those boundaries.

For those who are new to the topic of tarot ethics, most pro tarot readers will indicate what kind of readings they do. You’ll find this on an Ethics or Philosophy page. There, you’ll get a sense of what to expect in a tarot reading with that reader. In the IG post above, @tarotworks refers to the readers that detail what they aren’t comfortable doing for ethical reasons. When a question falls outside the bounds of a reader’s “ethics” they’ll either rephrase the question, this is what I refer to when I mention “rephrasals/rephrasing,” or they may even decline to do the reading.

I can’t tell if I agree with the original post or not.


Maybe only because I’m odd. Most people talking ethics, 3rd party – readings about people not getting the reason, prediction, health, and legal readings – might actually judge, making this assessment accurate. While I am able/willing to read those questions, I don’t prefer them. That being said, I don’t turn most of these questions down. I generally don’t have to because I don’t get them often, I don’t seem to attract them, and even when folks want those kinds of answers, it works out well.


I don’t feel I’m selling my soul over it or whatever. I used to (not literally *chuckles). But before I went pro, I spent a few years doing “bad question” readings, never rephrasing. I learned that the questions, while occasionally frustrating or intimidating, are not impossible to answer, usually don’t feel particularly anathema, and that I could be quite good at them even when I thought I couldn’t. Even now that I have more experience, these questions still feel limited to me.


The questions that border on “unethical” in a general sense, tend to be more literal and material based. And they tend to represent the surface of a more profound question. When I get these questions, I often address them only to find another layer underneath that requires more attention and a more in-depth question that a client might have asked if they felt safe and knew how to articulate it. That’s my opinion, a subjective judgment sure, but I don’t think it’s wrong for other people to read only those questions if they like or for folks to ask only those questions. This is why referrals are great.


I don’t believe ethical boundaries or preferences automatically imply judgment even if, with some people, they do.


I agree 100% that there are plenty of folks rephrasing questions because of THEIR unexamined discomfort/bias rather than for a genuine concern with ethics. The tarot doesn’t have limits. They can answer the most ridiculous, amoral, and uncomfortable questions even when we don’t believe they can and sometimes despite our desire not to!


When I was still facilitating at the day job, I got some training that stuck with me. If a teacher communicates with a student in a way that affirms a capacity just beyond what the student feels they can achieve in an attitude of equality and respect, it will boost the student’s confidence, and they will meet the higher expectation. Esp in the environment where the student knows it’s safe to experiment/explore/make mistakes.


I tested it with my student groups. I facilitated for low-income students, most of them children of color. Which meant that despite the best of intentions from their teachers and because of implicit bias, they had already encountered the lowest of expectations from persons in positions of authority. I noticed that they would fashion themselves to fit the expectations of those authority figures and their peers. They would ask only the questions they felt expected to ask. They would analyze at the depth that they were expected to analyze. Once challenged, they consistently exceeded their own expectations.


Clients strike me as pretty similar to these students. Like them they are often under a lot of stress, trying to decide who they are and what they should be doing and responding to the myriad cues from the world around them. From this place, can there even be such a thing as a bad question? Really, the question only indicates what the querent thinks of themselves. And the reader’s response to the question merely reflects what the reader thinks of the question.


I’ve been surprised by the connections I’ve made with people with questions that, at first, I didn’t think I preferred. And, my clients with “less ethical” questions have been surprised with the depth of question they could ask (once they knew how).


So how do you ask the question that gets to the heart right away?


As usual, I have a whole E book’s worth to say about this. *grins*
So instead of me accidentally starting it right here,
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Share your answers in the comments.