Many traditional Asian societies follow the lunar calendar (I once litigated a case involving an elder Taiwanese woman and all the document evidence she had was dated per the lunar calendar, which completely tripped us lawyers up and a lot of conversion work had to be done, but that is neither here nor there; just mentioning it to affirm that it really is still used today) and the super-traditional even believe that certain energies are more dominant during certain phases of the moon. Not kidding: they’d schedule major surgeries around certain phases of the moon because they believe they’ll bleed less and chances of success will be higher. They consult the Chinese almanac, which is based around the lunar calendar, for everything, from when to launch a business or throw a wedding ceremony to the optimal time for a funeral.
I’ll say that I haven’t lived or observed the universe long enough to confirm whether there is any validity to following moon phases, but if it worked for my ancestors and there is no actual adverse effects from continuing the tradition and it makes me personally feel closer to my heritage, then why the heck not. My mom was adamant about calibrating Hubby’s and my engagement and marriage to moon phases. Did it work? So far so good I’d say.
Anyway, that was a long tangent of an introduction. Sorry. This post is about cleansing a tarot deck.
To demonstrate, I’m using the DruidCraft Tarot deck by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm and Will Worthington (a highly recommended deck, by the way; though there is a great bit of nudity in the illustrations, which I understand why would be featured in a Wiccan-Druid-based deck, but just does not resonate well with me).
Bagua mirrors are believed to deflect negative energies, leaving only the positive. There are two types of baguas: the Early Heaven and the Later Heaven. In the photograph above, the Early Heaven bagua is used. The glass holding the burning sage is sitting right on top of a circle mirror. The Heaven trigram (the three solid lines) faces south (it’s the one closest to you, the viewer) and the Earth trigram faces north. The setup should be facing south, by the way.
Cleansing a tarot deck should be done when the moon is waning, and preferably a waning crescent. It is believed that the energies for diminishing, releasing, and banishing are at their peaks during a waning moon. When I mentioned surgeries, the Chinese believe that’s best done during a waning crescent moon because you will bleed less. I have no idea how that is explained scientifically, but hey, if it so happens that it isn’t going to be too much trouble and won’t medically hurt your chances of recovery, then why not? Anyway, cleansings are typically done on a waning crescent moon. If your intention is to diminish, release, or banish, this is the time. Trying to break a curse? Waning crescent. A deeply spiritual and reflective matter? Waning crescent.
Now for the setup.
I use real dried sage that I’ve crushed up rather than incense. Sage is believed by multiple cultures and societies to hold cleansing and purifying properties. In the back (or in the front) is a terminated point amethyst crystal. Amethyst heightens intuitive energies and helps bridge the conscious to the unconscious, which is exactly what you need for good tarot readings.
Light the sage with fire and pass each tarot card one by one through the smoke. If you are using real dried sage, the smoke may go out after a few minutes and you will have to re-light the herbs.
Place the entire deck on the right side of the sage (from your vantage point). With your left hand, take each card and pass it a few times over the wafting smoke.
The right hand side represents yang energy, the consciousness, and the external sphere. It corresponds with pragmatism, the material world, and the self. The left hand represents yin energy, the unconscious, and the internal sphere. It corresponds with intuition, the spiritual world, and the connection between the self and the universe. For me, that is why in dealing a tarot deck for a reading, I use the left hand, always pass the cards right to left, and generally handle the cards with the left.
In cleansing, passing the cards from right to left (with my left hand) is symbolic to me of submersion from the conscious, material plane down into the unconscious, spiritual-intuitive plane.
Make sure the smoke encircles both sides of the card. Then place it in a pile neatly to the left and continue until the entire deck, card by card, has passed through the sage smoke.
Visualization and concentration are the two most important metaphysical factors here. During the process, focus intently and channel all of your personal energy on the task at hand. Visualize your intentions of the cleansing and let the environment around you vibrate powerfully with those intentions.
When the entire deck has passed in this manner through the sage smoke, the deck is cleansed.
Please note that you don’t have to cleanse a deck to read effectively with it. The only reason I do it is because it makes me feel better. Isn’t that enough?
I’ll cleanse new decks I’ve acquired or decks I have been using frequently for readings that have been handled by dozens of third parties. The cleansing process described here helps to assure me that the cards have been purified of any negative energies it may have picked up.
Every practitioner has his or her own method for “cleansing” a tarot deck. I’d love to hear about yours!