“I have a question…”

Questions.

We all have them.  But given the harsh facts that we live these finite lives filled with all these annoying needs we have to attend to all the time, we can’t ask every question we have when we have them.  And sometimes even when we do have the time and the opportunity in which we might ask them, we stifle our questions…maybe because we feel embarrassed about not knowing something, or maybe because we fear that the person(s) to whom we want to direct the question will judge us in the kind of unflattering light we’re just not willing to entertain.  So…questions.

But while I completely understand not always being ready to ask a given question at a given time, and while I, myself, have been guilty of squelching queries more times than I can count, I’d also put forth here the idea that questions can be seen maybe as doorways, and that by passing through these doorways, we might then arrive at the valuable answers and wisdom and knowledge that await us on the other side.

What secrets lie beyond...??
What secrets lie beyond…??

I’ve come to feel that not only are questions of vital importance in all realms of our lives, but they take on special significance when we start delving into the metaphysical.  I’m a huge proponent of the notion that belief and/or disbelief not only deeply affect our approaches to reality, but that they can even affect reality itself.  Is reality reality…or is reality your perceptions of reality?  Will you ever even be able to determine the answer to that one?  Maybe not…but it may help if you ask your questions.  The process of asking and then weighing the answers helps us to refine our worldview, and when you get into things like divination and magical practices, the outcomes of anything and everything you do will be colored by your worldview.

I’ve found in my time dealing with others of an esoteric bent — and especially when dealing with such others over the less personal medium of the internet, which seems to sometimes give people the odd notion that matters of etiquette can be casually chucked out the nearest window in these exchanges — that you can always whip up a chorus of voices to tell you that their way of doing something or of viewing something is The One True And Right Way, or that some noted authority’s work must be swallowed wholesale, without too much of your own thought getting in the way:  Q: How many occultists does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  A: One to actually do the screwing in of the bulb, and however many are left in the room to all hold forth at the same time about how Aleister Crowley would have done it…

Aleister Crowley: "The Wickedest Man in the World"
Aleister Crowley: “The Wickedest Man in the World”

Here’s an example drawn from something I had to deal with when first learning Tarot: should I or should I not make use of reversals (and here’s a note: the word “should” may be a warning sign all by itself of a willingness to shortchange the value of one’s own determinations about things…).

Tarot “reversals”…  In brief, when using Tarot to address questions, the Tarot reader will generally draw various cards, and will often lay them out in a set “spread,” with each card position in the spread having its own assigned meaning within the context of that reading (like, “In this three-card spread, this first card will represent forces from your past, the next one will sum up your present, and this last one here will indicate probabilities about your future…”).  Some readers maintain their decks in such a way that the cards will always be facing in the same direction — that is, they’re all always “rightside-up” when laid down into their positions from the vantage point of the reader.  Other readers, however, will shuffle their decks such that the cards get mixed up into some being rightside-up, and some being upside-down.  A card that comes out facing upside-down from the reader’s perspective is deemed “reversed,” and people who make use of reversals feel that this singles that card out as one that, in this reading, may need to be viewed as operating unusually, or deserving of special attention, or indicating solely the most negative aspects of that card, or possibly even functioning in the exact opposite manner to which it would normally function.

From the Deviant Moon Tarot: the Ace of Wands and the 7 of Swords are "reversed"...
From the Deviant Moon Tarot: the Ace of Wands and the 7 of Swords are “reversed”…

As a newcomer to Tarot, I quickly became aware that to use or not to use reversals is a question that represents a great schism among Tarot enthusiasts the world over — that is, huge numbers of readers swear by reversals, and roughly equally huge numbers very much do not.  I suppose that you could decide to sometimes use them and sometimes not use them depending on your ever-changing moods, or on what the person you’re reading for might prefer…but I’ve never really heard from anyone who does this.  Mostly, readers pick one method of handling this question, and then they stick to it, and you obviously can’t do both at the same time (i.e., you can’t use and not use reversals in the same reading).

So the crucial next step is to ask your questions: Why would one use reversals? and also, Why wouldn’t one use reversals?  These questions are more than fair — they’re necessary.  Before you can really make this call, you’ll be best equipped if you understand the why of each school of thought.  Even if you go into things with an instinctual kind of gut feeling that says one way seems more “right” to you than the other — and in the interests of full disclosure, I immediately had a weird sort of aversion to reversals when I first stumbled across this whole issue — it’s still helpful to examine both sides of the matter so that you know what you’re accepting and what you’re rejecting.  [And further full disclosure: after I carefully pondered arguments from both sides of the reversals fence, I remained unconvinced that I needed reversals to flag certain cards for me as more important than others, or to tell me to consider special or specific meanings of a given card — I feel like I consider the range of meanings just fine already, and I can get my own sense of when a card is being emphasized…and of course, this is all just me, and you might feel exactly 180 degrees away from this, and that’s perfectly permissible, and in that case, reverse away!]

And as with anything, as you practice asking your questions — in the face of uncertainty, in the face of your fears, in the face of the attitudes of others — you’ll get better and better at it.

The question as refined art-form!
The question as refined art-form!

And lastly…if I might have some relevant knowledge about something you’re uncertain about, you can feel free to post your questions right here in this very blog.  I won’t make you feel bad about having them or asking them, and I might even be able to provide some answers.  Just ask!

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