There’s a lot of superstitions and amusing ideas surrounding how one should acquire and purify a tarot deck.
In 20 years of using and teaching the tarot I’ve been exposed to a variety of scenarios.
- Someone has to choose your first deck for you.
- It has to be a gift.
- It has to be buried in the earth for 30 days.
- They need to be wrapped in a cloth of period blood under the full moon
- Bury them with crystal stones during the full moon
- Bury them during the dark moon for 3 nights followed by 3 days of sunshine
- After smudging with Sage and/or cedar place them on your altar during the full moon followed by a full day of sunshine
- Lay them in a sunny window sill for 24 hours with cleansing crystals and herbs.
Actually, the last two are the ones I use with the final one being my favorite.
When I bought my first tarot deck I had spent about three months shopping around. It was 1999 so there was no Amazon or eBay back then. I visited multiple bookstores and metaphysical stores, browsing all the options. Occasionally the store clerks let me hold the cards and flip through them but nothing ever clicked.
In my gut, I had a feeling that when I found the right deck I would just know it. Just getting a standard Rider-Waite deck felt very unattractive to me.
One day while browsing in a big chain bookstore I found an employee reorganizing and managing the glass tarot cabinet so, to my good fortune, she had all the decks already all spread out. Normally I would need to go find someone to unlock the glass case then they stand there and watch me like a security guard while I uncomfortably feel if there is a connection to the decks.
This time I discovered an employee with a big, fun energy. After I explained to her my mission, she immediately handed me The Spiral Tarot deck, noting that it had just come in and was the newest on the market.
Twenty years later and my Spiral Tarot continues to be my favorite. I love the feminine softness to it, the colors, and that it blends both Thoth and Rider-Waite and utilizes the Kabbalah (although I had no idea what a kabbalah was when I purchased the deck.) This deck has been a catalyst for learning the deep mysteries, secret societies, world history, symbolism, alchemy, and so, so much more. What one can learn from the tarot is infinite.
Important Points to Consider When Choosing Your First Deck:
1. A true tarot deck will contain no less than 78 cards.There are many oracle decks out there. The sure-fire way to know if a deck is an oracle or a straight-up tarot deck check to see the number of cards in the deck.
2. Not all decks are the same.Most decks are marketed in the standard playing card size. Other variations are:
- tiny decks
- giant decks (great for teaching)
3. Feel for the connection.If there’s no connection to your deck then there’s really no point.
With my first deck, I was in love. I couldn’t wait to discover all of its mysteries.
Twenty years later, I’m just as in love with my deck.
4. To Waite or not to Waite
This deck was published many years later after the Rider-Waite. Since it's release, Aleister Crowley's Thoth has always been the #2 best-selling deck. The Thoth deck was my second deck to purchase for myself. For most people, beginning with this deck can be overwhelming.
C. The RW/Thoth style- there are many tarot decks available that were created by an author who has good knowledge of both the Rider/Waite and the Thoth. In a later lesson, I will be addressing more details about the differences and similarities. My [Spiral tarot]( is of this style.
A couple others I suggest you take a look at are:
Ciro Marchetti’s, The Gilded Tarot.
And the Aquarian Tarot by Palladini David
D. Novelty decks- These are decks which, the best way to say it, just don’t take the tarot very seriously. There is nothing wrong with them they are just not recommended for focused study.
For example, I gave my little girl a copy of the Fairy Tale Tarot
and another daughter I gave the Steampunk Tarot
Those are some really nice decks but may not be the best for a beginner student. The exception would be to use one of these for study while simultaneously studying with an RW and/or Thoth variety. I really encourage you to compare your cards.
We will look at study techniques in a later article in this series.
- Avoid novelty decks for serious card study,
specifically those which were developed from art not originally intended for tarot.
For example, Golden Boticelli Tarot
E. The Classic Marseille Style
This is the old tarot, the original when the cards were mostly used for games, before the Golden Dawn, which we will learn more about in some future lessons. Not recommended for a new student because it can be overwhelming.
However, if you aspire to use a deck like this at some point in time, go ahead and get one and learn it along with the recommended varieties.
5. Tarot Publishing Houses
The main publishers are:
6. Where to buy tarot decks:
- Local metaphysical stores
- Book stores
- Used book stores
- New age festivals
- Gem and mineral stores
- Santeria supply
Now that you have your first deck of tarot cards it's time to clean and consecrate them.
7. Cleaning and preparing your cards:
In the beginning, I made a serious intention when I acquired a new deck to clean them and get their energies all managed. However, as I moved more into teaching I collected decks that I mostly planned to use as tools for teaching. After a time, I got to where I might simply introduce the new decks to the other. I felt that just hanging out on the shelf with the others did the job.
Why we clean our tarot cards:
- I find that clearing my cards creates a connection with them which is so important to give good readings.
- If it’s a used deck, I especially want to remove the energies of its former owners.
- Neutralize all the vibrations of people and places the cards encountered before it reached you.
8. My favorite way to clean and clear my tarot cards:
There is no right or wrong way to clean or consecrate your tarot cards.
Doing a quick search on the internet will bring up countless different methods for accomplishing this. To not repeat what others have already said I will list my own favorite method while encouraging you to browse around on the web for other methods then develop what feels good to you.
- Smudge cards and original box, book, the deck’s home such as a special box or bag with it’s chosen spreadcloth.
- Spread out in a window sill with its’ bag or box and designated spread cloth.
- Place your favorite crystals and gemstones on and around the cards and their associated tools.
- Cover sparsely with cedar, pine and/or white sage
- Leave for 24 hours or longer.
- Place the deck inside your pillowcase and sleep with the cards until you feel finished. Some decks I have slept with for three nights and others a full month.
This is one of the countless methods for preparing your cards. There is no wrong or right way, only the way you want to do it. The most important ingredient is your intention.
Now you are equipped to find your perfect tarot deck to begin your lifelong study of the esoteric.
9. My tarot decks are stored in my beautiful handmade cloth bags.Others like to store theirs in wooden boxes. Some of my decks have their own special spreadcloth and crystals which are all placed in the bag with the cards.
I would love to hear your story of how you discovered your first tarot deck or your experience using the information listed here. Also, I want to hear about how you prepare your new cards.
If you missed the first post in this series, 7 Steps in 30 Minutes or Less to Learn the Tarot Cards, here’s a link to get caught up.
The next article in this series we will disect the 78 cards and look at all its’ parts.
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