Now that I’m revitalizing my Tumblr presence, I’m seeing more and more posts and guides and how-tos on “caring for your cards.” There is actually tons of information out there on different ways to do it, but I wanted to get into the philosophy of it a bit. It’s well and good to expose your deck to moonlight now and then or to keep it in its own, dedicated, protected pouch, but why? Why should we do these things?
There are many aspects to deck care. Where do you put your deck when you’re not using it? How do you treat the cards when they’re out and in use? How do you revitalize or sustain your deck between uses? Many of these questions have very practical aspects. There’s nothing magically or philosophically incoherent with reading cards at the pool or on the beach, but you probably still don’t want to do that! Keeping and using cards in a way that they don’t get bent, crumpled, wet, etc. is very important if you would like them to last a long time. This can mean keeping them in the original box or a dedicated travel pouch, not throwing them haphazardly into your bag when you take them out of the house, being at least somewhat gentle while using and shuffling them, all really standard stuff.
On top of this, however, the intention that you put into your cards does matter. If you have a particularly magical or occult outlook towards the cards, this goes without explaining, but even secular card users should be aware: the way you treat your cards reflects your attitude and respect towards the cards, which reflects the attitude and respect you have towards readings and querents. This means that, even when you are putting them away safely, you might think about elemental cleanses or ways to “reset” your cards. Can they get too bogged down with your own negative energy or the energy from others after repeated readings? Then maybe you want to reconnect with each card, put the deck back in its original order, and then shuffle it up again, like new. Do you really embody an intellectual, airy attitude towards the cards? Maybe you should find ways to use water (*lightly* brushing cards with something damp, exposing them to sea air) or lunar energy (leaving them out, but protected, during a full moon) to keep yourself conscious of how important emotions and communication are in reading and using the cards. Is storytelling and conversation an important part of your readings? Maybe you should keep personal mementos, things to remind yourself of your own story, near your cards whenever you store them or travel with them. There is no right way to carry your cards in your bag or to prepare a space before reading. However, the more conscientious you are about your little rituals and why you do them, the more supportive these rituals will be in learning and growing with the cards.
One thing that I find really lacking in any discussion of deck care is a notion of self care. You are doing the reading as much as the cards are! Maybe you think you are helping the collective consciousness or a deity speak through the cards – at which point you still need to make sure you are a good conduit for these energies! What is the point of putting the right kind of energy and treatment into your cards when you may go about consistently denying this kind of attention to yourself? Much like with deck care, the question of self care revolves around your personal philosophy, your personal outlook as to what hinders and helps you. Perhaps a straight-edge lifestyle is what you need for a clear mind and a healthy body, in which case abstaining from drugs and alcohol should be seen as as big a part of your tarot reading as it is a part of your actual life. Does pornography, animal products, or lack of exercise leave your body feeling lethargic or your mind cloudy? Then you should conscientiously address whether or not you can live a certain kind of lifestyle and still get the kind of knowledge and understanding you want from the tarot cards. For some, sexual energy, or more importantly, open and unconflicted sexuality is important for honestly delving into all of the themes of the cards. I don’t mean to prescribe any kind of behavior here, but I do want people to be aware of how their body and self, and how they feel about their body and self, are integral parts of what you can get out of your tarot deck.
The popular occult mantra of “as above, so below” is relevant here. The kind of treatment your body and your tarot card receives directly reflects the kind of awareness and connection you can achieve while doing readings. Be nice to your cards, and be nice to your self ; )