Welcome to my contribution to the Tarot Professionals February Blog Hop, a chain of related blog posts by members of the Tarosophy Tarot Association. Please check out the other members’ posts by using the links at the beginning and end of this post. As it is the beginning of a new calendar year, this month we were invited to write about how we work with new decks.
I love seeing the flag up on my mailbox here at the end of our lane, under the ancient Horse Chestnut tree. Especially if I’m at the end of a weeks-long wait after a late-night push of a “buy me” button on my screen. For days and days, I will have habitually clicked on the tracking page for my parcel, counting down with bated breath and antsy anticipation. On the expected day of delivery, if I happen to be home, I’ll often catch sight of Marion the mail deliverer wedging a thick envelope or brown box into the mailbox. She usually will wave, or if I’m out in the garden, stop to chat. I just counted, and she has brought me eleven decks now. I guess that makes her kind of my tarot midwife.
See, living on an island in the North Atlantic, hours from the nearest metaphysical store or book store, means that I have to order new decks online. I’ve only ever purchased three decks in-person from a bricks-and-mortar-store — my first three decks, as it happens. Now I purchase online, and then begins the waiting game.
Before buying, I will have already thoroughly researched the deck online. I will have tried to find images of each card, and will have watched or read reviews. Unboxing videos on YouTube can be useful for determining whether a deck will be suitable for you. If there is an Android app for the deck, I will buy it first. This is a great way to test-drive a deck – you get a clear, large, zoomable image and usually most, if not all, of the text from the book. In this way, I have managed to avoid “buyer’s regret” each time. There have been decks I thought I really wanted until I got the app and was able to clearly see each of the cards.
So where were we? Ah, yes, Marion has just left a parcel. The first step in welcoming my new deck, then, is with a little hoppy dance and a little “Yeeeee!” song, under the Great Tree, when I first open the door of my mailbox. The packet is extracted, cradled to the chest, with more of the hoppy dancing ensuing.
From there, we progress out from under the sheltering embrace of the Tree’s canopy, up the steps, and to the Kitchen Scissors straight away. If the weather is fine, or if I’m feeling airy-fairy, I might skip down to the garden bench for the Great Opening. If not, or if I’m just too damned excited, then it’s right there on the kitchen counter, quick and dirty.
First the box slides out of the wrapping, then the box is opened and the cards are all in my grasp, the silky, slidey smoothness of them. I start flipping through them, seventy-eight complete works of art, stopping to marvel and ooh and ahh.
If I have time right then, I lay out all the cards together, usually on my kitchen table, to get a sense of the picture they build as a unit. I look for story progressions through the suits – what is being said between the ace and the ten of swords, for example. Then I will start to just set aside groups – all the aces, all the fives, all the queens, for example, and see what things these groups can tell me, what they have in common, and how they relate to what I know of the numerological significance of each.
As part of the getting to know you process, I will often take my new deck for a walk with me. As I’ve spoken about here before, a huge part of my spiritual practice involves walking outside, usually on the deer paths tracing my island. As I walk, I will have a conversation with the cards – periodically asking them a question, drawing a card from their pouch, and then meditating on the answer the card has given me as I wander the woods and shore.
Some questions I ask my decks include:
- What areas of life is this deck best at reflecting?
- What kind of questions does this deck best answer?
- How can I best get acquainted with this deck?
- What can I learn from this deck?
- What are this deck’s strengths? It’s weaknesses?
The best way to get to know a new deck is to use it. Often. As much as you can. I usually hold off on doing readings for other people with a new deck until I really am sure that I “get” the cards’ language. But if I am trying to get to know a deck, I will use it exclusively for a while for myself first. I am big on journaling, and I like to draw cards and then just write free-association-style about the card — its appearance, as many symbols as I can notice, what feelings or associations the card evokes, how it fits in to the meaning of the card as I understand it.
Another technique I love to use is kind of a guided meditation with the cards: I will sit comfortably, choose a card, hold it quite close to my face so I can still see the whole card but so it is blocking much of my surroundings from view. Then I will visualize walking into the card. I will interact with the characters, imagine myself in their shoes. I’ll imagine what lies outside the borders of the image.
Even after acquiring 14 decks at this point, I can still see myself getting more down the road (in fact, there are already a few on my wishlist!). Besides the joy of owning 78 complete works of art, getting another deck is like gaining another perspective on each card. You get to see how another person has visually interpreted the symbolism and established meanings. I carry the images of all my decks in my mind, so even when I’m really only physically reading with one deck, in my mind I am reading from 14, by allowing symbols from those unused decks swim up in my subconscious mind as I read. Each deck I own then enhances and benefits my tarot reading, expanding my symbolic language bank.
Acquiring new decks can become quite addictive. But, to me, they’re like books — one can never have too many (my bank account disagrees with me on that one!).
So long, from under the Horse Chestnut at the end of the lane. Enjoy the next blog on the list! 🙂