You ever just look around you, at the people you’ve come to love, and realize how tremendously lucky you are to have them in your life? This post is inspired by two of them- whom I love dearly and cherish completely. Your friendship was already gift enough.
For Valentine’s this year, two amazing things happened. I plan to discuss the second one in another post later on, but the first is what actually inspired today’s post!
A tarot deck that I’ve been drooling over ended up on my porch, along with a rune set, a rune book, and a beautiful jasper heart. Now, ordinarily I would chalk up such wonderful offerings to the faeries who live in my hedges, but these wonderfully thoughtful surprises were purchased by two amazing people who hold a very special place in my heart.
That night, I opened the gifts excitedly, but I couldn’t bear to open the tarot deck. I tore the wrapper off the box, but something stopped me from getting into the cards!
It took me three whole days to figure out why: I’m afraid of not bonding with such a special deck!
This deck is my entire world wrapped up in a little box of cards. It symbolizes my Art Historian Heart, my obsession with Vincent Van Gogh, my growth as a person and a witch, love, and a friendship that has quickly turned into a sisterhood. That’s a lot of pressure for a witch who hasn’t even seen all the cards yet!
While most people who get new decks don’t feel so emotionally attached to them as I do to this one, I thought that maybe I wasn’t the only one who needed to bond with a new deck. There are a few tips and tricks that I use, that I thought maybe someone else might find useful.
1. Throw Out The Book
Okay, not literally, because you might want that for later- but, metaphorically, throw it out. The worst way to bond with a deck is to force yourself to see the images through the eyes of the artist. While I respect the books that come with the cards, I view them as more of a guide than a manual. As someone who loves art, and the emotions it invokes, there’s no way that what the artist intended you to feel will always be what you feel. Our life experiences tint the lenses we use to view the world, and trying to put on a different pair of glasses that you haven’t lived through can be off-putting.
When you’ve gotten comfortable with your deck, and you feel you’ve connected with it- then grab the book. Seeing what the artist intended after you have an understanding of the art itself will allow you to either retain or discard the information in the book as you see fit!
2. Drool Over the Imagery
Look at your cards. Don’t just go through them and shuffle. Take each one and thoughtfully inspect it. If you’re feeling spunky, use my “what do the cards say” worksheet in this previous post. You can’t know how you feel about the cards, what they’re saying to you and how you communicate with them, if you don’t look at them first. It sounds like an obviously simple step, but you’d be surprised how many people skip it. This step takes me the longest time, as I love to observe each card in great detail.
3. Start a Deck Journal
Like that song you couldn’t stand when you first heard it on the radio but now you love, familiarity leads to affection. The more you know something the more you find ways to resonate with it. That song was terrible at first, but now that you’ve gotten to know the lyrics, it reminds you of that Random Tuesday Night with Your Best Pal. It’s not the song, necessarily, that inspired the memory, but your association with the song. A Journal can break down the walls with a deck you’re just not attached to yet. Pulling a card every day and seeing how its meaning applies to your day, makes it familiar and personal. The deeper the association between the two, the more you feel connected with the item than inspires it- which, in this case, isn’t the song- but the tarot deck.
4. Interview Your Deck with A Spread
Often we think of the relationship with our decks as a one way street, but in reality, there’s two ends to the connection we wish to form. When we don’t resonate or bond with a deck, it’s likely that our deck hasn’t bonded with us either. We don’t understand the cards being pulled, or it seems as if the deck isn’t listening to us, and we let it sit on a shelf instead of working to figure out how to connect with it. We think of this as a static problem, instead of a fluid one. We are not bonding with our decks because our decks aren’t bonding with us.
There are about a bazillion spreads for interviewing your deck, but I feel most of them are quite generic or vague. Asking my deck what it wants me to know is like asking my TV what it wants me to watch- there’s always going to be something on, but am I going to understand why it’s on and what the TV wants me to know from it? Probably not. Therefore, I made a spread to use with new decks that asks deeper questions, and allows your deck to get to know you too (maybe even better than you know yourself)!
5. Sleep with Your Deck
I can feel the eye rolling across the blogosphere as I write this one. Sleeping with your deck is an old reader tradition that has gained a lot of flack over the years as being too hooey for mainstream. When you have a lot of new-age readers enter the scene, they’re going to question old traditions- and when those traditions don’t live up to their ideologies (or logics) they’re discarded and ridiculed as outdated. I, however, love the idea of sleeping with a new deck.
The idea that this deck is now subconsciously linked to me, through the closeness of my dreams, and is now in-tune to my personal energy via my sleep, is a mysterious nature that I adore. I’ve said it a thousand times now, but my belief of tarot stems from it being a Divine Communication Tool; it allows me to speak directly to the energies of the Universe, harnessing chance and probability to deliver messages. I also believe that our dreams allow us to walk between worlds, and become closer to the Universe than we can in our conscious states. I don’t need to know or explain why it works, or what is happening between my subconscious and the cards while they’re under my pillow, to know that for me, it feels right. And, in all honesty, neither do you. If you want to sleep with them, let the haters roll their eyes- you’ll be closer to your deck and that’s all that matters.
6. Don’t Ask It Silly or Repetitive Questions
There is something so comforting about getting an answer from a trusted source, isn’t there? Unfortunately, some of us can rely too heavily on that source and negate our own responsibility in seeking the truth. If you’ve ever had a friend who constantly asks for your advice (but never takes it) you have but a glimpse of what your deck might feel when you do the same to it. When your cards have given you an answer to a question, and you continue to ask it- hoping to hear what you want to hear- the deck stops listening to you. Like the friend who won’t ever stop lamenting about their problems, but never wants to fix them, you become a drain on your deck and it no longer wants to hear your crap. It might give you answers you want, just to get you to stop asking- or it might just start speaking gibberish, to keep you from pestering it. Either way, by asking the same question over and over, you’re damaging the connection you could be forging with your decks (and this applies to old ones just the same as new ones).
Silly questions are subjective, and will wholly differ from reader to reader. What one finds silly, another might find reasonable! However, I tell all my students to use what I like to call the “Famous Friend” barometer. Imagine someone you respect and adore as the mouth piece for your deck. If you can’t imagine asking, aloud and in real life, this person your question, chances are- you shouldn’t be asking your deck either. If it’s something like “why are there so many flies in my office”- I’m going to have to suggest you investigate your office and not interrogate your deck (and yes, that was a legitimate question that I’ve seen asked). This completely relies on the fact that you also respect your deck for the tool that it is. If you see it as just a bunch of cards with pictures on them, chances are you’re not going to really bond with them no matter what you do.
7. Give it time
This is the last but most important tip to bonding with a new deck. Some you will instantly connect with, as I did with The Good Tarot deck- others will take time, like (weirdly enough) the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. If you continue to work with them, you will eventually connect with them. It might not be earth-shattering fall-out-the-sky love, but it will flourish into a pleasant and respectable relationship that will allow you to get accurate and personal reads. Then again, you might find that the longer you use a deck, the more deeply you fall in love with it.
This tip begs the question: when is it time to give up on a new deck that you’re just not connecting to? Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question for you- only you can. I’ve yet to get rid of a deck, as I’ve had years go by before I was in a place to connect with one or two. My Rider-Waite-Smith deck is a perfect example of this- it sat for over two years in its box because I disliked the connotations the book had given the cards (see number 1!) and the Christian overtones that didn’t resonate with my own practice or viewing of the imagery on the cards. I picked them up one day when I outgrew another deck, and I haven’t looked back since. However, had I gotten rid of them, I might never have wanted to try them again. I’m also not a huge collector, in that I don’t own more than ten decks- so holding on to them isn’t a problem. If you find that you’re buying more decks than you’re bonding with, perhaps you won’t be as reluctant as I was to let them go.
If you’re completely new to tarot, or even if you’ve been practicing a while, it’s important to reason your belief system around the cards. Knowing how a deck communicates with you is just as necessary as getting it to. What you believe shapes a lot of your interpretational abilities, along with how you’ll continue to foster the relationship you’ve created between you and your deck. For those who don’t practice Tarot the way I do, it may seem weird that I treat my decks with reverence as if they’re living beings. While I don’t believe the cards themselves are living, I feel the deck as a whole has it’s own sentient energy. I activate it by believing in it, and therefor it becomes a conduit to a source I can neither see nor easily hear without such tools. But, without knowing how I feel about my cards, and how I feel about how the answers come to me, I might feel foolish sleeping with my decks or wanting to form a bond with them, which ultimately keeps me from doing either. If we’re confident in our belief, even if it’s a half-idea that makes you feel right, then we can better create practices that allow us to expand those beliefs and solidify them. Be fluid but firm in your convictions!
How do you bond with new decks? Do you do anything ceremonial or special when you bring home a new tarot deck? Let me know below in the comments!
Until next time, my friends…