Alright, you got a new tarot deck, but how do you conduct a reading?
Cleanse Your Deck
First thing you want to do is cleanse the deck. This removes any energies that aren’t yours that may be “on” it. This is something that’ll need to be done periodically. You’ll begin to intuitively know when it needs to be cleansed. For example, it might start to feel “cloudy” or like you’re just not vibing with it - like your readings may be more confusing or you might not physically feel anything. I feel heat/sparks when I slowly move my hand over the cards - I know they need to be cleaned when I start to feel nothing at all/zero connection. It's also good to cleanse when you do readings for others or if others handle the cards (and subsequently transfer their energy onto it).
To cleanse your deck:
Take your deck out of its case/box, taking a moment to sit with the deck and feel it in your hands.
Close your eyes to settle and ground. Breathe.
Once you feel centered, grab Palo Santo or Sage (either works as they both remove negative energy - I use Palo Santo more regularly because it also invites positive energy in, and Sage can get really smokey).
Light it, let it burn for 30 seconds or so, then blow it out to get the smoke going.
As it's smoking, set your intention - ask the spirit of the Palo Santo/Sage to assist with you with cleansing your cards of any stagnant/negative/unwanted energy. I say something like - I call upon the spirit of the Palo Santo to assist me with cleansing my cards and ridding it of any toxic, negative, stagnant, and unwanted energy that does not serve my highest good). Whatever you say doesn’t have to be exactly the same each time, or rhyming, or super serious - the most important thing is that you make it your own, really feeling and believing it. All energy/spiritual work stems from intention.
Intuitively move the Palo Santo/Sage around the cards. Do whatever you feel called to do - I usually hold them as a deck in one hand and move the Palo Santo around in a circular motion 3 times, but sometimes I feel called to spread them out on a cloth and wave it over them.
Once you feel they have been properly cleansed, you can extinguish the Palo Santo/Sage (if it's still smoking) or let it keep going until it naturally stops.
As for maintenance, I like to keep a crystal with the deck (e.g., clear quartz and/or tourmaline or labradorite). Clear quartz amplifies while tourmaline/labradorite are black crystals that absorb negative energy. Sometimes when I’m preparing to do a reading (for myself or others) I just set a crystal on top of it as a way of cleansing/amplifying energy.
Bless Your Deck
Because this is a new deck, you'll want to cleanse it and also "consecrate" it - this is setting an intention for good things and asking the Universe to bless the cards.
This is a personal practice so use whatever words resonate with you. Some examples of things to include in your consecration are:
Requesting the cards to consistently unfold and reveal messages waiting to be told
Asking the Universe to bless the cards so they may guide you and help you see clearly
Calling on the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air) to bestow their powers onto the cards
You can also add any ritualistic elements or spiritual practices as you feel called to do so.
Spend Some Time Getting to Know Your Deck
Most decks come with a guidebook and set of card interpretations. While these are helpful, they should not replace or supersede your own intuition.
Spend time looking at the card(s) on your own before reading the guide’s interpretation. Notice the imagery as well as how you feel. Breathe and center if you feel cluttered or overly excited etc. You’ll start to develop your own “language” with the cards that not only aligns with the guide, but also has more meaning and depth.
Look at each card individually.
Look at the major arcana (the ones with numbers at the beginning) - spread them out and look at how things develop and “journey” from 0 (fool) to 21 (the world).
Do the same for each suit: cups (water - emotions), wands (fire - energy, passions), swords (air - thoughts, actions), pentacles (earth - security, material, physical). Lay them out to see the themes for each suit.
Switch and look at the themes for numbers (e.g., put all 4’s together - these typically show stability).
Notice whatever patterns emerge and pay attention to any feelings that come up with each card.
Cleanse Your Space Before a Reading
It's super important to establish a sacred space and energetic boundaries, otherwise you might accidentally invite other energies in.
Before each reading, cleanse your space. You might not need to do this a lot if you have your own designated sacred space; consider more frequent cleansing if you live with others or have people over.
I use Palo Santo and say something like…
“I call upon the spirit of the Palo santo to assist me with cleansing my space and ridding it of any toxic energy. I ask the Palo santo to remove all stagnant and negative energy that does not support my highest good and bring in only loving and supportive vibes. I ask that it protect my space. All energies and entities must leave and go their rightful place in the Universe.”
You should feel free to state whatever you’re called to, but you’re generally saying:
I’m cleansing my space
Only energies that support me are allowed
Anyone/anything else, please go away
Call Upon Your Higher Self
Once that's sorted, ground/center yourself, and call upon your higher self. I say something like...
“I call upon my higher self and the light of the oracle within me. I ask that all other energies and entities respectfully remain in their rightful place in the Universe. I ask my higher self to give me the light, wisdom, clarity and the truth that I seek from this tarot pull. I am a clear and open channel.”
Again, make it your own as needed, but you want to:
Call upon your inner wisdom
Repeat your boundaries
Establish yourself as a clear/open channel through which your inner wisdom can flow
Begin Your Reading
You’re ready to read! Spread your cards out or shuffle them, whatever you prefer. You’ll eventually find what works for you.
Once you're ready, take a deep breath, focus, and ask your question. Be mindful of how you phrase your questions. Some pointers:
Ask open-ended questions; seek advice and insight rather than specific dates, names, and outcomes - ask "how" and "what" instead of "will," "when," "who."
Keep questions focused on yourself - for example, instead of asking how someone feels, ask what you can do to understand their feelings.
Don't focus on what you can't control, instead understand how you can better react and respond to external factors - ask "how can I" or "what can I do?"
Focus on the present - the past can't be changed, and the future depends on the present. Instead of asking if will something will happen, ask what you can do to bring about that outcome.
After you ask your question, draw your card in whatever way suits you. Some examples include:
Spreading cards out
Picking the top card
Shuffling the cards to see if one "pops" out
I like to spread cards out and I move my hand over them slowly. I'll feel a magnetic pull/heat/spark (like when your hand is falling asleep) over the card that wants to be pulled.
The most important thing is not to question what you receive. Spend time reflecting on the card even if the answer isn’t obvious to you. Don’t ask the same question again and again - trust your inner wisdom and the card that has come to you.
When you’re done with the reading, sit for a moment. Bring your hands to heart center, and thank yourself for setting aside this time to connect and thank the cards for their assistance.
You may have heard that there is a difference in drawing upright/reversed cards. I don't practice this, instead reading cards as they are. You can always consult your tarot deck's guidebook for more information.
Some recommend doing readings on special cloths; I don't do this, but I do ensure that I am working in a physically and energetically clean space.
I don't believe it is necessary to sleep with cards under the pillow to "bond" with them, mainly because I usually get too excited to use them and forget! I think it's fine to just work the cards and set the intention to create a bond - again, intention is everything.
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