Oracular Anomalies

Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Oracular Anomalies

“There are some questions the tarot can’t answer,” someone in my intermediate tarot class said.

“Nu’uh,” I said, because I can be efficient if not eloquent.

“A friend wanted me to do a reading on whether she had an STD. I told her there was no way to answer that using the tarot.”

“Seriously?” I said. “The suit of Wands indicates it burns, Swords that it itches, Cups if there’s discharge, Pentacles for a physical manifestation like scabs or warts.”

The whole class was rolling on the floor. While blushing at the inappropriateness of it all.

We were doing my class on Quirky Questions.

One anomaly that inevitably comes up for readers is the quirky question, a question that initially might appear like it doesn’t fit the style or parameters of the tarot. I have found that pursuing these questions opens us up as readers, strengthens our relationship to the cards, and takes us to new levels of creativity, confidence and freedom.

I’ll tell you the story about the quirky question that started it all.

Ten of Wands from the DruidCraft Tarot, by Stephanie Carr-Gomm, Philip Carr-Gomm, and Will Worthington, published by St. Martin’s Press.

I was reading at a psychic fair and a woman and her 9-year old daughter sat down in front of me. The woman wanted me to read for her daughter. (I know some readers won’t read for children, but you are really missing out!) I asked the daughter what her question was. She looked up at the mom, and the mom said, why don’t you ask what you’re going to be when you grow up? I put my foot down—I told her that I had already read that question for one twenty-something and two sixty-somethings and there was no way I was going to read it for a 9-year old! I asked the girl what kinds of things had been on her mind recently.

“What do wolves and dogs mean to me?” she asked.

Hmmm. The original question was looking much better! How was I going to answer wolves and dogs with the tarot? But I’d just made a bit of a to-do about letting her pick her own question, and my job now was to fulfill her requirements as a reader.

We shuffled and laid out some cards.

I don’t remember all the cards, just the Ten of Wands. I stared at that card silently for an uncomfortable period of time. I focused on the imagery, all the wands bundled together. A man walking. All the wands bundled together. A man walking with all the wands bundled together.

“You’re a loner, I said, but wolves and dogs run in packs. You’re looking for your pack.”

I glanced at the mom and the expression on her face suggested I had hit something true. The girl was excited about her answer and now had tons of questions for me and off we went into a great session.

I’m a (probably unreasonable) stickler for taking the answers from the imagery in the cards. The grouping of the wands in a single bundle became for me the wolves in the pack. In class I encourage my students to find answers directly in the imagery of the cards.

We’ve had a lot of fun with this technique over the years.

In that recent intermediate class I mentioned, we were playing with this exercise and I asked what food to order from the restaurant where we were having our tarot meetup holiday party. People had apparently not been happy with the cakes I had ordered the year before. We were using the Japaridze Tarot and a random draw of two cards revealed an Ace and one with some broken up blocks of color on it and what looked like folded or crumpled bits of paper around the edge.

The Ace of Tides and Fortune from the Japaridze Tarot by Nino Japaridze, published by US Games Systems.

The person reading for me was using my deck. She first asked, do all the cards in the deck look like this, and as she said it she turned up the next couple cards from the deck, seeing that the style of those cards was very different. The Aces are diamond shapes with an indication of the element within them. In this shape she saw a tray, and with the paired card’s broken colorful blocks and crumpled bits, she saw small individual items, like finger food. She suggested that instead of the cakes, we do trays of bars and cookies. That was one of the plans I had already discussed with the restaurant and it seemed like the perfect solution.

In the intermediate class from earlier last year, someone asked what would be the name of a TV show about hoarding junk. Following are the responses from class, using random draws. I used the Universal Waite cards here when I hadn’t made note of what deck the student was using.

Title for a TV Show about Hoarding Junk

Anna.K Two of Pentacles: Juggling your Junk

Two of Pentacles from the Anna.K Tarot by Anna Klaffinger published by Llewellyn Publications.

DruidCraft Five of Pentacles: Chasing More Junk

(hound chasing hare in background)

Five of Pentacles from the Druidcraft Tarot by

Fool: Fool’s Gold

(golden glow around the main character)

The Fool from the Universal Waite Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, colored by Mary Hanson-Roberts, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Strength: Loving the Lion’s Share

Strength from the Universal Waite Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, colored by Mary Hanson-Roberts, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Justice: Judge Junk

Justice from the Universal Waite Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, colored by Mary Hanson-Roberts, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

Tarot of the Old Path Temptation: Devil’s Dumpster

Temptation from the Tarot of the Old Path, by Howard Rodway and Sylvia Gainsford, published by US Games Systems, Inc.

What quirky questions do you have? And what do you see in your cards to answer them? Please share your quirky questions (and answers) in the comments!



Joy Vernon has been studying and teaching energetic and esoteric modalities for more than twenty years. She is the organizer of the Denver Tarot Geeks, Denver Tarot Meetup and Denver Traditional Reiki Meetup, and she served on the faculty of Avalon Center for Druidic Studies. She is one of the psychics at Isis Books and has been featured at SpiritWays, the Mercury Café and psychic fairs throughout the Denver Metro and Northern Colorado. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and a member of the American Tarot Association and Tarosophy Tarot Association. Joy also teaches Traditional Japanese Reiki. For information on upcoming classes or to schedule an appointment, please visit JoyVernon.com.

© 2015 by Joy Vernon. All rights reserved.

Joy Vernon
Joy Vernon

Joy Vernon is widely recognized as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty-five years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup grew into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Now Joy runs the Greater Seattle Tarot Meetup. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher in Burien, Washington. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.

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  1. I love to use the cards literally, really gets people thinking outside the box 🙂 And when you add that to prediction – you can have so much fun ! 🙂

    • Yes! Getting outside the box is so freeing and opens up so much potential and possibility in readings! And the level of detail that you can get for predictions is crazy! Thanks for reading!

  2. Brilliant post, Joy! Yes there’s a difference between quirky questions and no-go questions for me. And I have had many quirky questions like that 9 year old’s Wolves and dogs one. Often the cards showed up that the question linked to messages that my clients received from their relatives who had passed on. I noticed this more and more as I had been exploring my mediumship skills. I don’t set out to read for a client about her dead relatives. Usually, I would think the usual career and relationship type things would come up but more and more I noticed the phenomena of discovering that these clients who had been managing bereavement would pick cards with a quirky question that links not to their career or relationship but to their bereavement. Cool huh!

    • Wow, Joanna, that is cool! I have had a similar experience–I was at a psychic fair, all the other readers were busy, someone wanted spirit mediumship or past life regression, I don’t actually remember, but I was the only one available and told her I’d give it a shot with the cards. I remember we had a great reading! It’s definitely not my thing though. Sounds like you are doing very powerful readings! That’s awesome!

  3. Loved your post Joy. I’m laughing at your STD piece as yesterday I was reading for a guy and the Knight of Swords came up and he looked at the french word for swords in the corner and said – Does that say Herpes?
    I said – No love, it says epee.. it means sword..
    Are you sure?
    Seriously it doesn’t mean Herpes?
    But if say it was about Herpes, what would mean?
    I said to him… OK it means Herpes and it’s telling you that if you don’t want to catch it then you need to keep your sword covered!
    He said – Thanks Sweetheart! That’s the best advice I’ve ever been given!

  4. One that stood out for me last weekend at a psychic faire, was: “How can I find information on my great great grandfather?” I’m not a medium and what this woman was asking for was to find resources on her genealogy project. I have a Masters degree in Library Science so I could have answered this question without the cards, but I thought it would be fun to see what came up. I was using the Rider Waite Smith and got: Knight of Swords, IX of Wands, and VI of Wands. It seemed pretty obvious to me that he was a soldier, probably calvary, survived many battles, and ended up receiving honors and possibly a public service role after the war. The woman confirmed that she did know he was a Civil War vet and now she’s off to see if a calvary unit might give her more clues. Such a fun reading overall, but far from the usual work, love, health routine!

    • I love how things like this work! I also had the pleasure of doing a reading once with someone doing a genealogy project (a pretty unusual question, right there!) and I was hitting some things she had already discovered through research and then the cards came up with some new ideas as well. What a great experience! I love your reading, and how it translated into specific things she could pursue in her research! It’s also very interesting to note how you chose to answer the question using the cards instead of your other training–what a great example you set! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Oooh, I have another quirky question I remember. I had a student who kept asking me what different symbols in the cards meant. I kept telling her she needed to find her own answers, use her imagination, and let the context of spread, question and querent direct the meaning, but sometimes she just wore me down and I would answer. She asked what the fish meant in the Page of Cups. I answered, imagination. A day or two later, I was doing readings with my cat (another great learning experience! Not to mention fun!) and I think I asked if the cat liked something. I drew the Page of Cups. Immediately it became clear that the little fish popping out of the cup was the cat’s tongue licking me to express his pleasure. A clear yes from the tarot! And if I had been locked into the RIGHT MEANINGS OF THE CARDS (ominous thundering reverberation) I never would have seen it.

  6. LOL at the STD randomness! I always tell students who are beginning tarot to get the cards with characters “doing stuff.” Good job explaining why. Imagery is everything when reading cards. 🙂

  7. LOL reading this was absolutly entertaining and although very funny, extremely informative. One of my fears as reader is having a quetion that will seriouly stump me but the perspective that you have given me has turned that fear right around. thanks so much!!

  8. Wow! All the great stories, starting with yours, Joy, about reading the cards…as they are. I love all of this. Will definitely consider this method, particularly for “quirky questions”.

  9. Hmm, I once read for somebody’s pedigree dog and its chances in a show 😀 Other than that, there was someone who said they were worried about what their father would think of their boyfriend. I read the cards in terms of what they could do to help smooth things between the two, and she only told me at the end that her father was actually dead! So, an unwitting mediumship reading 😀

  10. For the sake of trying a random question today I asked, “What should I eat for dinner?” and pulled the 10 of Swords from the Morgan Greer deck. My initial thoughts of the imagery lead me down the path of a carnivorous meal, something about swords stuck into flesh kinda screams ‘meat’. I’m working night duty at the moment and my energy is sapped to the max, and steak seems too much effort – I totally relate to the figure stabbed lying in the snow. Snow got me thinking about my freezer and I remembered I had soup stashed there…. soup it is!

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