how to bond with a tarot deck

how to bond with a tarot deck

So you’ve acquired a new tarot deck. Heck yes! Don’t you love that feeling? I love new stuff. I’m pretty much a compulsive online shopper (in fact, I have just online-shopped the Green Witch tarot* after lusting over it since like, it was published.) That said, once that shiny-new-stuff feeling wears off, you’re left with the task of, well, actually using this deck of yours.

(by the way, as always, links marked with * are affiliate links – that means if you purchase them at no extra cost to you, I make a small commission! thank you for supporting Lavender Moon ♥)

I’ll be the first to admit that I have way more tarot decks than I need. I don’t regret purchasing any of them – I’ve pared down my collection to only the decks I’m really pumped about – but this also means that I’m guilty of buying a new deck, oohing and aahing over it, and then never really using it for readings. Humans are creatures of habit and all that, and I find myself going back to the Starchild tarot, the Linestrider tarot,* and the Prisma Visions tarot when I read for myself. This may sound like a good number, but I have 12 tarot decks (not counting my crapton of oracle decks) so really this isn’t doing the rest of them any justice.

I decided this month that I was going to focus on one deck I love but just don’t reach for, the Wild Unknown tarot,* and really connect with it. I’ve always adored these cards but just never really took much time to get to know them outside of the occasional draw. Whether you want to connect with a new deck or one you have but just don’t reach for, here are a few ways I’d suggest for bonding and connecting with a tarot deck.

1. Use the book

I think there’s a lot of pressure on tarot readers to NOT consult the little white book (or else they’re not a “real tarot reader”), but I think that’s dumb and I personally love reading about what the intended vision for the cards was. Sometimes it doesn’t line up with my own associations (I never connected with the Cosmos tarot because the meanings written on the card threw off my groove) but a lot of times it can shed some light on imagery that might be confusing or not intuitive. If you have a deck that you’re new to or struggling with, it could be a good idea to look at the guidebook it comes with and see if that can shed any light on the cards. This doesn’t mean that the guidebook is law, by any means! If you prefer to read intuitively, you don’t have to look at the book at all. I personally think that part of what sets each deck apart, though, is what the authors and artists were thinking of when they created it – the English major in me loves reading material, and I’m lucky that the Wild Unknown has such a comprehensive guidebook! This brings me to #2…

2. Do a journaling challenge

Using the guidebook is great, but I’m a firm believer that it’s our own associations for the card that matters most. After all, what makes each tarot reader unique is our individual experiences and ways of seeing the world! A simple journaling challenge would be to draw a card, write down everything that comes to mind instinctively upon seeing it, and then writing down what the guidebook has to say about it. Your meaning might line up with the guidebook in a surprising way, or it might not match at all – that’s okay! Write a little more reflecting on the two different meanings. You might find that you view the card in a new way, or you might find that you prefer your way of seeing it to what the artist and author intended. Whatever you decide, write it down – this will help you remember it later when you’re using the cards to read. Another really great challenge is the #tarotperspectives one on Instagram right now – basically, you choose three different decks and compare their cards one at a time, day by day. I like this idea because you could easily compare any deck to the traditional RWS imagery as well as another one you use on the regular – hopefully you’ll be able to see connections between them all!

3. Put your other decks aside 

My problem is definitely that I have so many decks, there’s not much incentive to use one over the other – I keep my favorites handy and that’s why they get the most use. When you’re working with a new deck, however, I would suggest putting the others away and sticking to just one for a while. This forces you to get used to the imagery and become familiar with the tone of the readings you’ll get from that deck. Do a deck introduction reading to get to know it, then learn to work with it for a set period of time – a week if you do it everyday, or maybe a month if you want more exposure to it. By the end of the time period you set, you’ll know for sure if you’ve connected with the deck or if you would rather not bother.

how to bond with a tarot deck
4. Spend time with the deck

This sounds kind of hokey, but I’ve found that spending time with the deck – whether you sleep with it under your pillow or carry it in your purse – can really go a long way towards helping you bond with it! I took my Wild Unknown deck to Croatia with me last summer and I am positive that trip is one of the reasons I’ve bonded so strongly with it despite not reaching for it all the time in readings. It comforted me when I was anxious and was a solid reminder of my spirituality and spiritual practice in the middle of an otherwise hectic trip. If you take your cards to work with you, they might provide you with a similar comfort!

5. Accept that you might not get along with every deck

I had admired the Paulina Tarot* online for an entire year before I ordered it. I’d asked other readers to use it when they read for me, and I connected so strongly with the messages they gave me that I just KNEW I had to have the deck for myself. But somehow, once it finally arrived, I felt… nothing. The beautiful images that I had admired on Instagram felt foreign to me; it was like they spoke a language I didn’t understand. Try as I might, I could not get out of those cards the same things that others had gotten out of them (even though they had used those same cards to read for me!) I ended up giving the deck away and never thought twice about it – it went to someone who could appreciate it and I didn’t have to feel guilty about one more unused deck sitting on a shelf. The truth is that you’re not going to bond with every deck. Sometimes cards you thought you’d love turn out to be different in real life. Maybe the cardstock isn’t to your liking, or maybe your associations of the cards don’t match up with what’s there (like I mentioned with the Cosmos tarot – it was hands-down one of the most beautiful decks I ever owned, but the keywords written on each card were interfering with my intuitive readings and I ended up giving it away. It was SO gorgeous though, folks. I might end up ordering it again just to have it look pretty on my shelf. I loved it that much.)

Don’t beat yourself up about it if this. There’s a vibrant community of tarot readers on social media who would no doubt love to buy your secondhand deck – I’ve sold a few through Instagram – and you’ll know they’re going to a new home. Which frees up space for you to buy a new one!

What do you do to bond with a new tarot deck? Have you ever met a deck you just didn’t get a long with? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear your story! <3

17 thoughts on “how to bond with a tarot deck

  1. Thanks for your insightful blog post – I found it through some random ambling on Pinterest. It is such a relief to see someone else has a hard time reading the Cosmos deck! The LWB is particularly frustrating for me because it is rife with spelling and grammar errors, and the ALL CAPS formatting makes me feel like someone’s yelling at me.
    Thanks also for the reminder not to take things too personally when it’s hard to read a deck – I often feel as though I’ve failed at tarot when that connection isn’t there, it when readings are muddy.

    1. Hi Sarah! I’m so glad you liked my post <3 Oh man, I really wanted to love the Cosmos deck. I still see pictures of it online and feel sort of sad about selling it off, but then I remember that I truly never connected with it and I stand by my choice, haha! You're definitely not a failure - tarot is super personal, so it makes sense that you'd feel off with a deck that you don't connect with. Thank goodness there are so many different decks out there!!

  2. I love this. I have a question though. A friend and I were doing readings together this past weekend and we swapped fracks for fun for one reading. Her deck felt really weird to me and since then mine has been off. Do I need to bond with it again? I have the Wild Unknown deck too. Absolutely love it.

    1. Hi Krysteen! I think a few things could be at work here. It could be that your friend’s energy is still lingering around your deck and causing it to feel different – in this case, a good cleansing, whether by sage smoke or moonlight or crystals, can’t hurt. If it’s still feeling strange after that, you could definitely try some activities to re-bond with it. It could be that you got sort of used to your friend’s deck and now yours doesn’t feel as comfortable as it did before, but I think that with time that will go away! <3 I wish you luck!

  3. Thank you so much for your post! I’m just starting out, and I have chosen the Deviant Moon Tarot deck. I literally just bought it tonight, and I had no idea that bonding with your deck was a thing. But, my question is a little off topic. From everything that I have heard, my understanding is that it’s not wise to purchase second hand decks. What’s your thoughts about that?

    Thanks,
    Candace

    1. Hi Candace! I think that some people are superstitious about purchasing a secondhand deck because it likely carries the residual energy of its previous owner. However, there are ways to cleanse and dispel that energy so I really wouldn’t worry too much about it! If there’s a secondhand deck you love, you can cleanse it by waving it through sage smoke, placing a clear quartz crystal on top of it, or leaving it on a windowsill in the light of the full moon. I’m so excited for you to begin your tarot journey! <3 The Deviant Moon is a gorgeous deck. If you ever have any more questions, I'm always here! 😀

  4. Just found your blog in my sister’s Pinstrest. I had a neighbor that gave me her deck that I absolutely adored. I really wish I knew the name of it. I connected so easy with it. This is all before I knew about cleansing them. Especially when they was someone else’s first. Sadly someone stole them. I gotten another a few years later and I had no connection to them. It bugged me and back then I didn’t know about bonding with them I thought if they didn’t connect they wasn’t for you so I gave them away. And I went on years without looking for them. Now within the last 2 years I’ve restarted my spiritual path and thought about getting a deck. I saw the Hobbit deck. Now I grew up the story of the Hobbit. And when I saw it I really wanted to but it. Still might now after reading this blog. (I thought just one deck only lol) I looked at all of them and at the last second took a cat tarot deck. I have a deep love of cats. And right away we connected. Hahaha I just think decks pick you. I spent 10 more for them then I would gotten the hobbit deck. I was also Told to bond with them by taking them with you everywhere. I currently keep mind in my purse. Have you heard anything like that? Hahaha thanks again for some insight.

    1. Hi Holly! Yes, I also like to take my decks with me everywhere in order to bond with them! <3 I also think you're right about the deck picking you in a lot of cases. There have been many decks I've thought were lovely, but I just didn't end up having a connection to them no matter how hard I tried! I hope that you're able to bond with your new deck and that it's exactly what you were hoping for! 🙂

  5. Great post! My fabulous pen pal gave me a tarot deck as a Yule gift one year. It’s an Amy Zerner deck. I love it! I think I need to follow some of these tips to get a better connection to the cards, though.

  6. I’m big on interviewing the deck and just picking it up in general. Some days aren’t a day for a reading but flat out ignoring it for days on end isn’t helpful for me. I love to thumb through the books to look at the meanings. Any little moment to appreciate the effort that went into the deck and admire it helps me with bonding.

    1. I totally agree! Sometimes just spending some time with the deck is all you need to encourage that bond 🙂 Thank you for sharing! <3

  7. I found you on pinstrest, yes you know if the deck is not for you. 20 years ago, I looked at a Lord of the Rings deck for weeks, finally picked it up, walked out of the shop and handed it over to my husband. I smiled said I love you,this is yours. He has never looked back, they were never to be mine I was the messenger.

    1. Hi Pamela! What a magical story – I never even thought that sometimes we might be drawn to a deck simply because we’re meant to help someone else find it <3 I'm glad they worked out for your husband!

  8. Love this! I’m very new to Tarot but jumped in headfirst (like I always do! LoL) and now have 6 tarot decks and 9 oracle decks. Yes, I refer to the guide book in each deck because I’m still learning but my intuition takes over a lot of the time. My favorite decks are The Green Witch, Psychic Tarot, and the gilded RW, and the Gypsy Orace Cards. Those Gypsy cards are perfect every time. My daughter saw them and bought them for herself but gave them to me instead. She said they didn’t work for her. LOL! Maybe it’s our own energies that we convey to the cards when handling them? The one that never seemed to click with me, no matter time or questions, was the Angel Tarot by Doreen Virtue. They are pretty sitting on my shelf along with a few oracle decks that didn’t resonate with me at all. I sure am loving this new journey I’m on and very grateful for sites like yours to help me along.
    Thank you!
    Lindsey

    1. Hi Lindsey! Isn’t it funny how one deck will work so well for one person but not at all for another? I agree, I think it has something to do with our own energies reacting with the cards! I’m so happy you found some decks that work for you <3

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