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Asking Effective Questions and Talking to Oracles: A Simple Guide to Considerations

In spiritual practice, one of the most powerful skills we can develop is that of asking effective questions. I define this as questions whose answers provide useful, actionable information. 

How you ask a question affects the kind of answers you get. We are seeking to ask questions which give us access to intuition and open doors for spirit to engage us through.  This process is co-creative, a collaboration between the method, the diviner, and the querent.  It depends on relationships, vocabulary, symbol sets, bias, and interpretations of everyone involved.  The more we understand about these things within ourselves, the more fluidly this process occurs.  How we approach the world affects what we notice and how we interpret that information. The same can be said for HOW we ask a question.

  Divination comes in many forms, each having its own specialties, personality, and voice.  Since they are as varied as people, we find that different techniques are better suited to certain kinds of questions – again, just like people.  The tools here will assist you in aiming your question at the kind of information you are seeking.  As your advisor, I am equipped with a variety of styles of divination and will be able to adeptly select the best tools for our exploration together.

Ask the most specific question possible

Remembering that the type of question we ask affects the kinds of information we receive, it is helpful to pick a specific point to focus on, and then craft our question around it.  Carefully crafted questions are more likely to get us specific useful guidance about the subject we are asking about.  This is where you use the trajectory of your question to point both the diviner and spirit to the kind of guidance you are ready for and will find useful.

Finding the sweet spot

“Yes/No” questions, along with “who” and “where” questions, tend to be limited in scope. The restricted nature of the question leads to one-word answers.

“Why” questions tend to be so broad and open-ended that they get lost in the philosophical weeds, without much practical direction.

“What” and “How” questions tend to be a sweet spot.  They are a balance of concision and invitation that is also focused on helping you find actions that will be beneficial.

“How Best” & “What is my Next Step” type questions are frequently gold.

Self-focused questions give you the most actionable information.

Four concentric circles. The inner most is purple and says
Aiming for the center of the circle helps us to ask more effective questions.

Imagine concentric circles. You stand at the center, within the first circle are the things you can control directly, your words, your actions, how you choose to view the world, behaviors. 

The next circle out is people and things you are in collaboration with. These are where you are co-creating something, be it with people in romantic relationships or friendships. A business you run, a plot of land you farm, a class you teach. These are the things over which you have a fair amount of influence. 

The next circle out are areas where we are in connection, areas where your influence is more diluted. Here are your casual friends, acquaintances, workplaces where you can contribute to the culture, but perhaps don’t set policy.

The largest circle is the circle of concern. These are things that we care about, but cannot directly control or influence, global politics, weather, social structures, etc.

By focusing our efforts on that innermost circle and where it intersects the circle of collaboration, we can get information on where we can take action on our situations most effectively.

Managing expectations, value judgments, and asking neutral questions

“How can I GET RID of the block” – this may be practical, though it implies judgment and your desired course of action ie. that the best way of dealing with the block is to get rid of it vs “how can I best DEAL with the block” which empowers growth, agency, and development. Better yet “How can I best work WITH this block to achieve the desired outcome” How we ask the question matters. Encourage nonlinear, CREATIVE thinking.

Manage the “Should I” and “Could I”

“Should” implies external pressure. Since we are aiming for maximum sovereignty, examine what is behind “should”. Oftentimes this points to where we feel some kind of external pressure, such as cultural norms, or family expectations, which can be rooted in unconscious patterns.  While these patterns can be useful, knowing what is behind them allows one to act with greater knowledge, deliberation, and agency. 

“Could I…” This implies that there may be an underlying belief that you shouldn’t, or that it isn’t possible.  Again I ask you to examine the why behind that. 

Either/or questions can be really useful: 

“What will it be like if we move to city X?” 

“What will it be like if we move to city Y?” 

“What is the most likely outcome of choice 1 vs choice 2?”  

This allows you to weigh apples and oranges.
Throughout this process, we can reorient by remembering we are always seeking to find:

“Which course is more in alignment with where you want to go?”

Do you REALLY want to know?

Only ask the question if you want (or need) the answer. Seriously. Sometimes divination gives us hard answers, answers that mean hard work, that ask us to look at the dark places inside ourselves, to learn hard lessons.

Keep Records

This way if you find a particularly rich question, you can revisit it. Often we get one meaning during our initial reading and more complex, multilayered conversations occur over time.  While readings are a snapshot, they also echo out.  Symbol sets develop over time, by keeping records sometimes patterns emerge that we didn’t see when we were too close to the subject.

Digging to the Roots

It is the right of a client to ask questions in a session, it is the reason we are both sitting across from one another after all.  There are some things I will ask you to consider as we dig deeper into the guidance you are offered during our session.  Every issue has multiple sides.  It is vastly easier to understand more about how to navigate our situation when we are exploring with an openness to the factors at play beyond our view within that moment.  The following considerations will help with this. (I use these myself, and can affirm that they will be useful in the formation of your original question as well as in the exploration during our time together.) 

  • Did I do, or fail to do, something that contributed to the current issue?
  • Could I have dealt with the issue differently?
  • Did I do, or fail to do, something which would have changed the outcome of the issue at hand?
  • Am I reacting to what happened or to another, more deeply buried, wound?

We ask these questions not to blame victims or punish them. We inquire so that we can begin to see the root of the issue and address it.  By addressing the root of an issue, or at least the deeper layers, we can go about healing the wounds and making sure we are learning new lessons.

We do have a responsibility to actually work with the information. Do you keep asking the same question and never addressing the root of the issue? It is completely normal for unhealed wounds to pop back up.  Sometimes this is because we are ready for the next lessons they have to offer, and therefore ready to heal the wound a bit more.  Sometimes this is because we are treating the symptoms.  Readings can help us find guidance while we are actively engaged in growth and personal healing.  When we require assistance in starting the healing process, therapy is our friend.  

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