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One of the most common question I get asked is, “How do I connect with my new tarot deck?”
I’m so familiar that feeling – you’re holding in your hands a brand new deck of cards, still pristine in its wrapping, and you can feel how full of promise and potential it is. You want to pour your heart out to it, uncover its secrets, fall in love with it.
You also know that tarot cards have a mythic status, and that there are a lot of stories and rumours around the right way to receive them and the right way to work with them. They have to be given to you. They have to be charged under a full moon.
Personally, I don’t go in for a lot of those old tales. Or rather, I think old tales only serve a good purpose if they feel useful to you, here and now. The best way to bond with your tarot deck is the way that feels right to you. This is your tarot story, and you get to decide how it goes!
If you’re looking for some ideas to get you started, here’s a few ways that I’ve bonded with decks of cards over the years. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way, so take what feels good, and leave the rest. Happy reading!
1. LOOK THROUGH THE CARDS
More often than not, the first thing I do when I pick up a new deck of cards is set aside a little quiet time to take a good look at them. Give yourself a moment or five when you won’t be interrupted. Switch off your phone, maybe pick up a notebook and pen if you feel the need to make a note or two. Peel off that wrapper, open the box, and see what you find inside.
You may decide to look through the cards in order, one at a time. You might prefer to first locate your favourite card, or your birth card (check out #2 in this post for how to calculate your birth card). You might decide to dive straight into your favourite suit, or lay out all the Majors side by side.
Take a moment just to be curious about your deck. Which cards grab your attention? Which artwork do you immediately love? Which images do you find confusing, or confronting? Which images are immediately familiar, and which challenge your ideas about what a card might mean?
At this point, you might decide it’s a good time to read your deck’s book, if it comes with one. I love to take a look at a deck creator’s description of their work. Each tarot creator brings a unique sensibility to their creation, and when you’re first meeting a deck, exploring the creator’s writing on their work, if they’ve provided it, is such a great way to get a sense of how the deck might feel and work.
(With that said, don’t forget that you’re going to develop your own relationship with these cards you’ve chosen. The creator can state their intention and offer their ideas about the meanings of the cards, but as you get to know your deck, you’ll make your own associations and develop your own sense of the cards’ meanings. So, don’t feel like you need to take anything as gospel!)
2. Bless, Consecrate, or Charge Your Deck
There are a million and one ways to ritually prepare your deck for use, but here are just a few that I like. All of these methods will be enhanced by bringing a little intention to the process, so I recommend taking quiet time when you won’t be disturbed to cleanse and charge your deck. You may wish to meditate for a few minutes (or longer) before you start so that your mindset is clear and fresh.
Also, throughout the process, talk to your deck! What are you achieving by doing this ritual? What kind of relationship are you hoping to build with your cards? Where do you want your tarot journey to lead you? While you cleanse and charge up your new tarot deck, it’s a great idea to infuse it with these hopes and intentions by speaking them aloud, or simply focusing on them in your mind.
FULL MOON CHARGE
Full moons are potent times of the lunar cycle for taking advantage of peak energy, and many readers also find the moon’s bright light during this phase to have cleansing and clearing vibes. So, you get two for the price of one – your deck is wiped clean of any lingering dull energy, and powered up by the moon’s most intense light.
Check the date and time of the full moon in your location (I use timeanddate.com or the app Full Moon). Before I put my deck out for a moon bath, I like to make sure all of the cards are in order – Majors 0-21, and Minors Ace-King in the order of Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles (if your deck is brand new, it might already be in order). Once you’re happy your deck is arranged as you’d like, place it somewhere, like a windowsill, where it will get to bask in the moon’s bright and powerful light.
Bonus tip: You can also use the sun to clear and charge up your deck! On a bright afternoon, let your deck catch some rays with the intention of freshening it up. Be careful, though, not to leave it out for too long – your deck’s print may fade if it is exposed to the sun for long periods.
CLEAR AND CHARGE WITH CRYSTALS
Many folks like to use crystals to clear and absorb energy, and also to charge up their tarot cards with a particular intention. Crystals like clear quartz, selenite, and obsidian are great for soaking up old vibes and wiping the energetic slate clean, while some readers like to enhance the intuitive power of their new decks by charging them with intuitive stones like amethyst or labradorite.
Once you’ve selected the stones you’d like to use, arrange them on or around your deck, and let them sit a while. I like to place them on my altar, or to add crystals into a full moon charging ritual. Some readers like to keep a clear quartz or other cleansing stone with their deck when it is stored, too.
CLEAN AND CLEAN WITH SMOKE
One of my favourite methods of clearing a tarot deck is to immerse it in sacred smoke. Personally, I like to use incense (I like this one for clearing, and this one for charging with intuitive intention), but some readers prefer sage, palo santo, or other herb or wood bundles (as it turns out, many of these products are over-harvested, to the detriment of their habitats, so do your research and source ethical herb bundles where possible – or even better, grow and dry your own!).
Light your incense (or your chosen smokeable thing), and let its aroma seep into your space. When you’re ready, hold your cards in the smoke as it rises, and envisage it carrying away any stuck or stale energy. Visualise the smoke resetting your cards, and ripening them for receiving your intuitions.
3. DO AN INTERVIEW SPREAD
Getting a new tarot deck is a bit like making a new friend. They all have their own qualities and quirks, and part of bonding with your deck is starting to get to know its unique personality. One of the ways I like to say, “Nice to meet you!” to a new tarot deck is an interview spread. I have to thank Beth of Little Red Tarot for bringing this particular interview spread into my life – it’s a good one!
The card positions for this spread are:
Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
What are your strengths as a deck?
What are your limits as a deck?
What are you here to teach me?
How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?
What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?
4. DO A DAILY DRAW
An interview spread is a great way to break the ice, but one of the best ways to build on that first meeting with your new tarot deck is to do a daily draw. Learning tarot – whether that’s from scratch, or just getting to know a new deck – can be really overwhelming, and a daily draw lets us do just a little each day to slowly build our competence and familiarity.
Personally, I like to pull a card each morning with a view to seeing what I might focus on or be aware of for the day. You might prefer to pull a card over lunch, or before you go to bed – whenever suits you is good! You might like to ask, “What do I need to know about today?” or “What approach or qualities might I try to cultivate today?” or even “What tarot card do you want me to study today?”
You might like to record your daily draws in your tarot journal, your calendar, or on social (you can find my daily tarot Weather Reports on Instagram), and you may like to revisit your notes form time to time to see how your connection with and understanding of your new deck has evolved over time.
5. TAKE A COURSE TOGETHER
So, you’ve looked through your deck, cleansed it, interviewed it, and done a few daily draws. Now what?
Working closely with a deck over months (or even years) can yield such deep relationship and understanding between reader and cards. It’s a beautiful thing! When we’re just starting out, though, that work can seem a little amorphous – like, what are we even meant to do with this tarot deck, now that we have it?
If, like me, you need a little structure for your studies, you might like to knuckle down and do a course of study with your deck. This might be an actual course, delivered online or in person, or it could be a tarot book that you work through by yourself or with some tarot pals over a period of time.
Here’s my mega list of tarot reading and study suggestions. Happy learning!