This post is NOT about how to determine time-frames using the cards - there are plenty of great resources online and in print for those interested in experimenting. The intent of this post is to discuss whether providing time-frames is truly beneficial to people in the long run (and I, for the most part, feel that it is not).
This issue of timing has come up a lot in social networking forums recently. Is determining time-frames possible? Is it accurate? Is it appropriate? There are a million different "tried and true" methods that various readers swear by. Some may be more calibrated than others, some may show higher levels of accuracy. I'd say that most competent readers will say that it can be difficult to pin down precise timing in some cases - the future simply may not be that precisely pre-destined. (And isn't that something of a relief?) I thought I'd outline my own thoughts about it, which explain why I find "when" questions to be unhelpful most of the time:
1) What if the topic of the "when" question never occurs? Once I received this question: "When will my future music videos make it to national television?" This question was posed by a young college student who wasn't actively engaged in music in any tangible way. Maybe the student would never end up in music at all. Maybe the student would never create music videos, let alone have the opportunity to publicize them via television. This is something of an extreme example, but the point is there, I hope. Perhaps a better question would be "What do I need to know about going into the music industry?" Questions like this make a lot of implicit assumptions about the future, which is problematic.
2) What if the client feels the event is predestined, and therefore doesn't put in the effort to manifest it? Example: a woman wants to know when she'll find a job, and the cards indicate a time frame. She now expects that the job will appear before her at a given point in time, and stops looking for work or submitting her resumes. Consequently she doesn't have any job prospects at all, and feels the reading was wrong. In this sense I feel that doing timings can serve to disempower clients by leading them to believe that their actions don't impact their future.
3) What if the client finds the determined time-frame to be highly discouraging? A man wants to know when he'll find the perfect girl to marry - he's ready to go, can't wait to have a family of his own…he just needs that ideal lady. The cards determine that he will likely marry an excellent woman…in about 10 years. Instead of feeling excited, he's now forlorn at the thought of having to wait so long. How many important relationships might he give up, believing that none of them could be the "right" girl? What if he would have met the lady in one year, developed a wonderful partnership, and then decided not to marry for another 9 years? Who knows? They may not like the time-frame they're given, and it could have detrimental impact on the course of their future (not to mention the time-frame could be off!).
When potential clients ask me a "when" question, I encourage them to change their focus: perhaps to determine likelihoods of the event occurring, to a focus on how they can best prepare themselves, or even what perspectives or energies will be the greatest help to them moving forward. In rare instances I'm willing to give general time frames, usually qualified with a brief summary of the points listed above. I am okay with, and practice, many forms of predictive divination, however I feel at times that when questions are exclusively predictive or even more importantly, exclusively time-based, they tend to side-step the greatest gift that Tarot and other card systems have to offer - a way to understand yourself better, and to improve your life in a way that nurtures your power of self-determination and choice.
In the end I don't believe this issue revolves as much around whether timing is possible (it can be, and it can also be accurate), as it does around the potential impact, and unintended negative consequences, on clients' lives, which is an ethical consideration first and foremost.