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.
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