Cleansing a Deck

One of my earliest memories of Tarot was learning how to store the cards, charge them, and how to keep them clean. It seemed every Tarot author had something to say about these processes. Perhaps my fascination with doing things in “proper order” directed my attention to the minutia associated with the beginning of a divinatory process. With all the sources I consulted, suddenly I needed the right cloth, the right box for my cards, big enough for the cloth too, the right gems and rocks when I do a reading, and the right process for removing the energy of other people from my cards. 

I was afraid in the beginning so I was drawn to the books that communicated definite structure and order.  For months no one was allowed to touch my cards, not even to cut them. I slept with them; I talked to them; I became upset if they were to touch any surface other than the cloth intended for their use. I had a lot of fearful beliefs about what could happen to me and my cards with improper use and care. The certainty of those beliefs felt very secure. Security was more important to me than most other things, at the time.  I didn’t notice for another decade that my fear-driven beliefs and behavior cut me off from my intuition and kept me closed.

Fifteen years later, I am less attached to old beliefs about my cards. I have carried and stored them without protection; I have watched while strangers handle, smell, and wonder at my decks; I have traveled with them, and I have let them get heavy* with all the things they have seen. My biggest challenge came when I spilled water all over my more recent favorite deck. They warped. All 78 cards were left with a very noticeable bend in them that would flip directions depending on how they were shuffled and would not go away. I almost got rid of the deck. I would buy the deck over again, I thought, and be contented to forget the accident ever happened. I decided instead that the mess I’d made of my deck was a matter of perspective and an opportunity for acceptance. The bend serves as a reminder that the deck can go anywhere with me and that I am in control of my thoughts about my experiences and nothing else. Everything is perfect however it is.

Do I clean my decks?
Do I charge my decks?
Do the cards need special care?

I do not often clean my decks. I do take special care about how I shuffle them, otherwise the same cards will keep coming up. I also take special care to notice what beliefs I bring to a reading. Attachment to beliefs cloud my intuition, interfere with the functions of the body (breathing, relaxing, you get the drift) and feed me illusions as reality. I use any means necessary to detach from my thoughts. Breathing works wonders. I notice my breath and breathe deep when I handle my cards.

I do not feel that I need to charge my decks. Sometimes I will. Instead I take care to charge myself. Doing readings takes energy. Although energy is abundant, my ability to harness and manage it is a work in progress. So I focus and refocus my attention to stay in touch with why I read. If I lose touch with my intent, the cards will mirror unconscious action, distraction, and emotional drain.

Sometimes, I still think that I need to keep and preserve my cards. So until I internalize that each deck is incidental to the intuition within me that they access, I keep them in a cloth that I like, all together and inside a pretty but understated box where only I would think to look for them. There they are safe from someone who might come along and spill food on them, someone like me. I do not worry about the energy that comes into contact with the cards because I know anything I see in the mirror of my cards is a reflection of me. I trust that if I am clean then they are clean.


I noticed that the heaviness in my cards increases with use (I’ve been doing more readings since I first drafted this). I’m of two minds about what the heaviness is. Energy? An emotional reaction to statistically flawed shuffling habits? Both?! I decided to cleanse my deck and see if it made a difference. I ordered my cards from Ace to The World and set some of my favorite stones on top of the ordered stacks. Result: I no longer pulled the same cards over and over and I found it easier to access my intuition. Will I clean them again? As soon as I perceive heaviness and notice that it interferes with my readings. Will I make a spreadsheet and code of conduct about it? Probably not…probably.

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