Do I Need to Cleanse My Tarot Deck? How?
Among other rituals and techniques, most readers have their own special rituals or little "quirks" they use for clearing or cleansing a deck of tarot cards. There is no single "right" way to do it. And one doesn't even have to use any cleansing methods if they don't want to.
Most of us, however, adopt some form of cleansing and clearing for our decks, simply because it makes us feel better -- which is what really counts in the end. If I feel my cards are becoming somewhat "flat" or "stagnant," I like to revive them a bit and add life and positive energy back into them.
This may sound silly to some folks, but it's all about what feels right to you. There are many methods that readers will use to cleanse their decks, and I'll admit that I don't like most of the methods used, nor do I practice the traditional methods of clearing a deck. The reason is because some of the cleansing techniques can be damaging to your cards!
So what is the purpose of cleansing or clearing a deck anyway, you might ask. Our cards need some tender loving care, and using a clearing ritual of our preference helps us to clear away unwanted or even negative energies that the deck could collect from clients or other surrounding energies that we don't want within the cards.
A Tarot Deck might need to be cleared and cleansed for any of the following reasons:
- Your Readings start to feel flat, unclear, or you get an "off" feeling or vibration.
- Your cards have not been used for a very long time.
- You and your Tarot cards have been exposed to negativity from a client that leaves you drained.
- Situations in your life have been especially challenging, and you want to clear that energy from the cards.
- Other people have touched your cards, and you don't have a good feeling about it.
- You've purchased a used deck of tarot cards.
- You've accidentally dropped your cards on the floor or have had a mishap with them.
- You want to reconnect with your cards and revive
the energies of that connection.
Smudging: Some like to smudge the cards with sage, using a smudge stick. They might smudge each and every card, or they may just hold the cards together and smudge the deck as a whole.
Wafting the cards in the smoke of incense: Some people will take each card of the deck and pass it through the smoke of burning incense.
Apparently they were not satisfied with their cleansing results and chose to pass the deck off on ebay. I ended up throwing the deck in the trash and ordering a brand new copy of the cards from Amazon. It was not a deck I could use, because it did not feel right, even when I shuffled them with intent to clear away any energies that were hanging on, and even when I reordered the cards in the original order. (I'll talk more about reordering the cards as my safe method of clearing, cleansing, and recharging a tarot deck.)
With that said, I have also read that instead of physically using smudging or wafting the cards in the smoke of incense, you could also choose to "visually" do this through a process of meditation. You could pick up your deck, or the individual cards if you desired, and visualize pure white light clearing and energizing your deck with positive vibrations. You could visualize the cards being wafted through cleansing incense smoke, or you could "visually" smudge them. I like that idea much better than actually running the risk of physically damaging the cards!
Bathed in the light of the Sun and the Moon: Some readers like to place their deck of Tarot cards in a window sill for 24 hours to absorb both the moonlight and the sun light -- or some just prefer the moon energies overnight. (Of course, we know the light of the Moon is an illusion, as the light is actually coming from the Sun.) However, do keep in mind that the Sun can cause fading effects. And if you opted for placing a deck in a window sill, make sure there will be no chance of the deck to draw moisture! That will warp your cards! If you leave a window open, and it unexpectedly rains . . . your poor cards won't be thanking you for the moonlit "bath" they got.
Simply Shuffle and Reorder the Cards
My preferred method to clear, cleanse, and rejuvenate a deck of tarot cards begins by simply shuffling the cards as many times as feels right in the moment. During the process of shuffling, I visualize old, unwanted, and negative energies being lifted out of the deck and replaced with pure white healing light. I visualize the deck being completely cleansed and cleared, and I visualize it as being protected.
This shuffling process can be like a form of meditation. It also gives you practice clearing your mind! For me, it's best not to be thinking about problems or daily life events while doing this. After all, the purpose of cleansing the deck is to take away all of that unwanted built-up energy that the deck can be perceived to hold after a number of uses.
After shuffling, I then reorder the deck. I put all the Major Arcana cards in order from the Fool through the World. And then I put each suit in order from Ace to King. I place the major arcana pile on top of the suits. It really doesn't matter which order you place your suits. If you have a specific ordering preference, that will work just fine.
I don't have a set time for how long I leave the cards in order. I will pick them up and use them again as soon as I need the deck for a new reading -- which in some cases, may be the same day of this deck clearing process. For other decks, they might stay ordered for a longer period of time, depending upon when I am ready to reach for that deck again for a reading.
Play Solitaire With Your Tarot Deck -- Yes, you read that correctly! A fun way to put your tarot cards back in order is to play a game of Solitaire with them. Some call this game "Patience." And it's okay if you "cheat" in the game to more quickly get the cards in order. The process of playing with your cards helps to clear your mind and connect with them. It's a fun way to order your cards than the somewhat boring process of sorting through the whole deck to get them in order.
To learn how to play Solitaire with your Tarot cards, click the link here to read the FAQ entry on: How Do You Play Solitaire (or Patience) with your Tarot Cards?
Cleaning Spills From a Deck of Cards
of the need to clear and cleanse the energy of a deck from
time to time, there can also be those upsetting mishaps
where you have spilled liquid that gets on the cards.
Because of the potential for this to happen, it is very rare for me to bring any soft drinks, water, or other drinks into my office. I am too famous for accidentally tipping over a glass or upsetting a can of Coca-Cola. And I don't want that all over my cards!
If you also eat food around your cards, that could potentially make for some sticky cards as well. You might think your hands are clean after wiping them off with a paper towel or napkin, and they may look and feel clean as well . . . but your cards might tell you otherwise!
If you do have a sticky messy mishap, it won't necessarily mean that all is lost for your cards. Try using any of the following items to gently clean up the cards which have been subject to spills or sticky messes:
- Use an electronic cleaning wipe -- the same wipes that you use for computer screens and other technical gadgets.
- Furniture wipes -- similar to Pledge but in a cloth wipe form
- Baby wipes -- but make sure they are not too wet
For the above, make sure you also dry the cards thoroughly with a soft cloth to ensure that the card is fully dry before you stack it with the other cards. Don't use something rough. Even a paper towel could be too rough. Use the kind of cloth that you would use to clean a pair of reading glasses. Cloth diapers work well for that. Even though I have never used cloth diapers for my babies, I always bought some for use as burp rags, and also found the soft texture to work well for cleaning reading glasses, too. Cloth diapers aren't just for babies anymore!
For cards that just seem to be sticking without reason of spills or food, try sprinkling a bit of baby powder on the cards, and then very gently smooth it over the cards. Powder can absorb greasiness that can be picked up from the hands. Even when we ensure that our hands are clean before handling our cards, there are natural oils in the skin which the cards can pick up. I have heard two stories about talcum powder though -- some say it helps remove stickiness on cards, while others say it could make your cards sticky. So use any method with care and find what works best for your own cards.
Cards Used Only For Yourself Will Not Require Much
Clearing or Cleansing
For cards that you specifically use for yourself, you are
not apt to need to cleanse or clear the energies as much as
the decks you use for clients. However, I find that
once in awhile, I still like to clear the decks that I use
for myself. After all, I do come to the Tarot with
some pretty heavy-hitting questions on occasion, and I don't
want to leave any lingering negativities in my cards, even
though I purposefully shuffle a deck a number of times after
a reading AND prior to a new reading as a form of
clearing. I do this with my own personal reading decks
as well as for all the many decks I use for client readings.
How Often Should A Deck Be Cleansed?
As mentioned above, you probably won't need to frequently
cleanse a deck for personal use, if you even choose to do so
at all. There really is no set time or schedule to do
a clearing process for a deck, although the decks you use
most frequently will probably need more clearing than other
decks you use. The moment you feel like a deck is
drained, flat, or stagnant . . . or when you get any sort of
a negative vibe from your cards, then it's time to cleanse
You really do not have to cleanse a deck after each reading. I shuffle the cards thoroughly after each reading, and then also before a new reading as a quick method of clearing. But I do not take the time to reorder the cards after each reading I've done. I simply don't have that kind of time, and most busy readers don't!
I do, however, ensure that all the cards are right side up, as I want to put the deck away with all cards upright. That's just my little "quirk," and each reader will adopt quirks of their own, because they feel "right." And doing what feels right to you personally is really what it's all about. It allows you to more freely connect with a deck without interference.
Once in a while, I will lay out the cards for a client reading, and something doesn't feel right with the cards themselves. It has nothing to do with the client or their situation, but something will instinctively just feel "off" to me. And I don't feel that I'm getting clear messages from the cards with that kind of feeling hanging over the reading. When that happens, I pick up all the cards -- not even writing them down. And I immediately do a deck cleansing. If the client didn't have a deck preference, I will choose another deck, or if it's a Rider-Waite deck, I do have a few of those and can simply pick up a different one to do the reading.
This is not the same as one of those "do over" readings where a person might be tempted to redo the reading because they didn't like what came up in the cards. Of course, I do not ever recommend someone to do that, because the cards come up the way they do for a reason. The Tarot will bring you the messages you need to hear at a given time. But this is all about ensuring that a reading starts with energies related only to that client and his/her situation -- without any lingering energies that the cards themselves may have previously picked up. I want to ensure that each reading I do is based on a clean deck and layout.
The Bottom Line on Cleansing or Clearing a Tarot Deck
You don't need to do any rituals that don't
feel right to you just because some book tells you to do
it. Your cards are a tool, and as long as you take
care of them, they will serve you well for many years.
Do what YOU need to do and what feels right to YOU -- not what someone else insists you should do. Tarot cards are constructed from paper and ink. Obviously it's best to keep them away from liquids that can damage them. And it's a good idea to keep them out of prolonged sunlight as the images will certainly fade with time.
Just respect your cards, and they will respect you and serve you well. Treating them with TLC (tender loving care) doesn't mean you have to do anything special for them, other than just taking good care of them. Storing them in the box they came in is absolutely fine. After all, that's what the box is intended for!
No special rituals are required. Your Tarot cards really don't care whether you use a ritual or not. All they care about is that you respect them and take good care of them. It's not advised to just leave a deck laying out where the cards could be picked up, played with, and bent or torn by small children -- or chewed up by pets! If you don't want others handling your decks, keep them stored away from the eyes of others who are curious.
Honor your own personal beliefs and feelings when it comes to any rituals or "quirky" things you might do in relation to the cards. Some people love rituals, and others like myself simply don't feel the need to go to any extravagant measures. I don't do any fancy rituals, because none of that stuff resonates with me. But for someone else, it may be exactly what they want and need, because it feels right to them. It's a matter of personal preference.
The only required thing in taking care of your deck and/or in cleansing and clearing your cards is what feels good to you. Taking good care of our cards is a way to show them respect -- and to respect ourselves in the process. After all, the cards are like a mirror of our own inner wisdom. If we treat things in a sloppy way, or we treat the Tarot with indifference, then we shouldn't expect anything more than sloppy and indifferent results!
All of this is NOT about worshiping your deck by any means! And I mention this only because non-readers have literally gotten the impression that people "worship" their tarot cards. I don't worship the Tarot. But I do have humble respect for how the cards can help me in my life through the guidance of our higher powers.
For me, that higher power is God Himself. For others, that might not be the case. And that's okay. It's all about what YOU believe in -- not what I believe, or what a Tarot book says you should believe. The real magic is within you, and it's a gift to embrace. The cards serve as a tool to help bring out that magic.
So for myself, while I don't worship the tarot cards (that's almost funny to think of such a thing), I do respect my cards and take care of them, because I respect the higher source (God) that allows me to see and understand things I wouldn't get the privilege of knowing otherwise. And aside from that, I'm just naturally one who likes to take care of my personal belongings -- especially the things that I most enjoy -- Tarot included!