Breaking in a New Tarot Deck

Written by Jacob. Published on March 6th, 2014 at 20:01.

This post is primarily for those who may hesitate with their first Tarot deck. Experienced readers may find none of this necessary but if you have your own approach I would love to hear about it.

Let’s say I receive or purchase a new Tarot deck. I suppose I could pull the cards right out of the box, all giddy with excitement, and start popping life’s big questions with my best friends on their cat-hair-saturated-carpet. And yet, just because I can, doesn’t necessarily mean that I should. I think of it as someone who becomes involved with another person for the first time—there’s a getting to know you phase before anything more intimate ensues. This is the progression of a relationship that takes time to develop.

Here’s my approach:

Phase 1: Breaking the Ice

When I take the cards right out of the box I sit down with the stack in my hands and flip through each one. I spend only a few seconds eyeing the artwork, symbolism, naming conventions, etc.

I then clear a space to lay out all 78 cards and create a grid. The grid has the four suits in each row, with a separate grid-like layout for the major cards. I go up and down columns and across the rows making observations. Then, I break the cards into sub-groups or arrange them by category. Really this could be done dozens of ways: by number, by suit, by astrological association, by color, by symbols, by name, etc.

I do this a few times over a few days.

Phase 2: Getting to Know You

Each deck is different. The artist/conceptualist created the deck with a purpose and a direction. If the deck came with a booklet of some kind I definitely look it over to understand the concepts and intended direction. In what direction is this deck going? Why where the images or symbols used the way they were? How is this deck different than others? Is it an intuitive expression of art and soul, or is it rather, something geared towards an occult-science-like nature?

Pulling cards and interpreting them (essentially doing one card readings) usually feels right at this point. I’ll start doing readings without a spread, but only for myself.

Phase 3: Integration

Once I’m comfortable with the quirks of the deck I’ll start doing full spreads. As the relationship gets stronger I’ll do readings for people who I’ve read for in the past. It’s about keeping it comfortable and not rushing things. If you feel there’s a limit don’t let some one pressure you to use the specific deck or read for them simply because they want you to.

This break down of phases was merely to help illustrate how my relationship with a new Tarot deck may progress. The phases in actuality are not so discrete. There are also additional things that can be done such as placing the cards under your pillow when you go to bed or performing some kind of cleansing/initiation ceremony.

In conclusion, it’s about building a relationship with the deck—allowing yourself to experience it and gain familiarity. As the relationship grows you’ll be able to move to new levels. By personifying the cards, I learn various ways of how I should go about respecting and honoring them.