What To Do With A New Tarot Deck: Connecting With Your Cards
31 July 18
First, I must apologize for the lack of regular Sunday posts. I will be rearranging my scheduling and trying to plan better to ensure I deliver content to you in a timely manner. However, today is another Tarot Tuesday! Let’s talk about what to do with a new tarot deck and how to connect with your cards as well as proper care for your decks.
So, you finally took the plunge and your bought a new deck but you’re just not quite sure how to use it or how to even care for your cards. These following tips will help you to not only find the best solutions for your personal lifestyle, but will also help you to become more adept at reading your new deck. Without further stalling, let’s jump right into it.
Disclosure: Some of the links below contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions expressed are my own.
Let’s just start off right away by saying that there’s really no set in stone way in which you should store your deck. Obviously, they are typically made of some form of paper or stock which makes them vulnerable to damage so keeping them away from humid areas or potential flames is a good idea. Otherwise, it is up to you and your preferences.
Some of the most popular methods of storage are in a tarot box or wrapped in a cloth. There are those who will insist that the box and/or cloth be made of specific materials or be certain colours, however you should use what you feel is fitting for your needs and desires. I used to keep my primary deck wrapped in expensive violet silk fabric then stored it in a drawer away from everything that may stain or harm the cards or fabric. It was convenient to use the silk as a reading cloth as well, but it has become a bit tiresome to have to carefully wrap and store my cards with the silk. As of late, I simply keep all my decks in the same drawer which is specifically dedicated to magickal tools and materials. I am the only person who accesses this drawer so things tend to just stay exactly where I placed them.
Tarot boxes can be easily found and are fairly inexpensive. Typically made of wood, they are a little bulky and take up more space than your stand alone deck. This might be a good option if this is your very first deck or if you intend on only owning one or two decks at a time. People tend to honor and respect boxes sitting on desks, dressers, or alters since they often contain valuables, but they also attract people who might mean you harm. Decorative boxes can help your deck blend into your home and become a part of your everyday life just by sitting there. However, they do not travel well and are meant to be stationary by design. They are also prone to damage and general wear over time. Many people who own more than one deck may invest in a larger box which will contain all of their decks for safe storage, however this is a more expensive option since finding larger boxes with adequate dimensions for multiple tarot decks can be a little tricky at times.
Cloth and bags are probably the most common form of storage for tarot decks because they help keep the cards from collecting dust and protects them from unwanted hands touching them. Tradition would say that it’s best to wrap your deck in pure silk, but this is expensive and silk is a rather delicate fabric which needs special care of its own as well. Finding natural fibers is becoming increasingly expensive as well and you will often find that most fabrics are a blend typically comprising of polyester. I’ve heard people suggest that your cloth or bag ought to be black, white, purple, or red only but it seems to me that it’s more important to pick what you feel is right.
The original packaging is the true tarot collector’s method of choice. Keeping the booklet and box (especially if it’s a special edition or collector’s set) seems to be the pinnacle of collector status. Personally, I find it to be more clutter than it’s worth. More tarot companies are putting effort into their packaging to appeal to collectors and design driven people, however the packaging is often much bigger and bulkier than the cards themselves so it can take up a lot of space. The original packaging will keep your deck looking nice for a long time since it’s often intended to protect the deck through shipping and general wear. It does make it difficult to use other storage methods or to place any helpful items with your deck. Which brings me to. . .
Crystals and talismans are quite often stored along with tarot decks to help keep them clean and free of negative energies. The most commonly quartz crystals are used for their absorption properties, however quartz does not necessarily discriminate between the types of energies it receives it just remembers. Black tourmaline however is notorious for repelling negative energies and projecting it away making points, wands, and obelisk shapes ideal. Smokey quartz is a great option because it is both a grounding stone and helps to remove negative energies. However, you can use what ever you feel is best for your practice.
Cleansing Your Deck
There’s a lot of ways to refresh your deck. Over time you will notice that your deck isn’t quite “cooperating” with you or that it just feels weird; this is when you’re going to want to cleanse it. Cleansing isn’t a literal cleaning and I highly advise against soap and water here. Cleansing your deck is like hitting the reset button and deleting all the stored up energies you’ve put into your deck over time.
The most common and effective way of doing this is sorting and shuffling. Basically, you’re just going to be putting the deck back in numerical order, starting with the major arcana then proceeding to the minor arcana. Take your time with this and reflect upon the cards. Once you’ve got all 72 cards back in order, mess it up! Shuffle up the cards as best you can putting your energy into them. Personally, I prefer the giant pile method; simply sprawl the cards out on a big, empty table and use your hands to make a huge mess. Swish them around, grab some and toss them on top the pile, shake it up, really act like a kid with finger paints. I find this helps to really separate the cards in a natural and free way. Afterwards, I gently collect them all into a smaller pile, letting the cards go wherever they want. Once I have them all neatly back into a stack, I do a simple riffle shuffle 3 times followed by 3 over-hand shuffles. Do what works best for you though. If you don’t like doing any riffle or bridge with your cards because you don’t want to bend them, then there’s no pressure to do so.
Meditation is another cleansing method which uses your personal energy to clean away the negative energies on your cards. If you’re a Reiki practitioner you might find this to be the easiest method for you since it is much like healing your cards. This method can also be used if you’re someone who’s skilled at meditation or visualization. It can be a longer process for a more thorough cleansing or even a quick cleansing in between readings to help minimize the spiritual gunk.
Smudging is another quick, effective form of cleansing that is easy to learn and do. Smudge sticks made of sage are abundant and fairly inexpensive. Packaged sage smudge sticks sometimes come with abalone shells for safety and beauty. You can also simply use dried sage or rosemary. Be sure you are using a fire safe vessel to burn the herbs in and collect the ashes. Simply pass your cards through the smoke as it rises from the herbs. You can pass the entire deck as a whole or each card individually. You can also use a feather to direct the smoke where you would like it to go.
You may also use various natural resources to cleanse your deck using as a moon bath or fresh air. I personally do not like these methods because the humidity in the air, high winds, sun rays, and other factors may damage your cards especially if you are the forgetful type and you leave them out too long. Setting your deck on a windowsill at night for a moon bath is a free and easy option, but puts them at risk of being forgotten or tampered with. (Especially if you’re like me and you have mischievous cats who think the windows belong to them, and them alone.)
Salt is very well known for its abilities to banish negative energies and create a neutral ground. I have come across many people who suggest this method of cleansing, but I say to follow this at your own discretion. Sticking your deck right into salt will leave behind residue and can damage your cards (especially with prolonged use over time). Some may suggest putting the deck in a plastic bag or a container to protect it from the harm of the salt, but I feel that doing this sort of defeats the purpose of using the salt in the first place. Even though I do not recommend this method, I do still want you to be aware that it is an option. If you have obtained a deck from someone who has particularly bad energy or if you perhaps bought it second-hand and you’re getting some really negative vibes, this might be the best cleansing option though.
Connecting With Your Deck
Okay, so you now have these new cards sitting in front of you, but you have no idea what to do with them. . .
The first and most basic, obvious thing you can do (and should do) is to get them out of the package and go through each card. Look at them all individually, don’t worry about their meaning just yet. Just kind of observe them. Do you like some cards more than others? Do you get any feelings looking at them? Take the time to get used to the feel of them in your hands. Even after all of these years of reading tarot, I still sometimes like to just sit with my deck and mindlessly feel them.
This next step is where you’re really going to tap into your own intuition as well as create that bond with your cards. Grab some paper (preferably a journal) and a writing tool, now go through each card and write down what you get from them. Don’t open the booklet, no cheating, just observation. Use all of your senses and go through the deck card by card. Write down your first impressions then get a bit more descriptive. What do the images mean to you? If a card has you stumped, make a note of that and move on. There’s 72 cards in a traditional tarot deck so don’t feel pressured to do this all in one day if you don’t want to. In fact, walking away and coming back with a clear mind can help you. When I do this, I leave a little space in between each card to allow me to take notes later.
Once you have gone through the entire deck, grab the booklet your cards came with and do a comparison. If your deck did not come with a booklet, the internet can be a helpful tool. Websites like Biddy Tarot has a full list of the tarot cards and their meanings available for free. How well did you do? Were you able to connect with your cards and read them with ease, or did you find that you struggled to make the connection? The booklet contains the author’s interpretations of each of the cards, which can sometimes be a little different from the traditional meanings. If you are finding that you and this author really don’t click, then perhaps this is not the deck for you. If you’re not quite sure how to pick a proper deck, I have written an article of 6 easy tips to finding a new tarot deck which may help put you on the right path to finding the right deck. Don’t expect to get every single card “correct” the first time you go through the deck. Using your intuition to read signs and symbols is a very personal experience and what means one thing to you, might mean something else to another person. You can repeat this process a couple of times to test yourself and see if you can connect better over time.
Cleansing your deck should be on the top of your list before you begin your readings. A new deck is (typically) neutral energy, but you want to impart your energy into your deck. Cleansing your deck will expose the cards to your environment, intentions, and vibes. Some people like to carry their deck with them for a couple of days to a week to help infuse their personality into the deck.
Once you feel comfortable, do a testreading. The simplest way to do this is a 3 card spread. This is the first spread most people learn because it is both simple and completely versatile. You can give any meaning you choose to the three cards, but the most common meanings is the past, present, and future. The cards are laid out in a horizontal line with the card on your left being the past and the card on your right being the future (leaving the middle card to be the present). Give this a try. Shuffle your cards as you see fit, then lay out 3 cards. Without using the booklet, try to figure out what the cards are saying. Look at the individual cards first and where they are in the spread (past, present, and future). Then, look at the cards all together, how do they all connect and what might they say about this person. You can do this a couple of times as a practice exercise. As you begin to feel more comfortable with the deck, try increasing the number of cards you use in a spread.
Practice! As with any skill it is perfected only with practice. A card a day draw is a very easy, casual way to get a better feel for your deck. You can do this as a simple exercise to just pick a card, any card, or you can try to do a daily draw as a reading. This is to say that you take the time to shuffle the deck and prepare to read the card as a reflection or lesson for the day. Either way is just fine and will help you form habits as well as make it easier to remember the cards. It’s much simpler to absorb the meanings of one card at a time than all of them at once.
Meditating with your cards can help you to connect better, particularly if there is a specific card that you’re having trouble with. Create a quiet, comfortable space to your liking. Some people like to play music while meditating while others need complete silence. You can choose to sit or lay down, what ever is more comfortable to you. Hold the card(s) in your hands and close your eyes. Relax and let your mind clear. Don’t just try to force your energy upon the deck, let its energy flow to you and try to understand it. We ask our tarot cards a lot of questions, take this time to listen for a change.
Don’t forget to properly store yourdeck. A neglected, abused deck isn’t going to do you any favors. Just like any other tool the better you treat your deck, the better it will work for you.