How to Cleanse and Dedicate a Tarot deck.
It’s always a thrill to hold a new tarot or oracle deck in our mitts. Whether you’ve a brand new, straight out of its wrapper deck, or perhaps a serendipitous find in a thrift store has you clutching a tarot treasure, a cleansing and dedication ritual is a great way to connect with your new cards.
Your deck is a conduit between you and Spirit, and just like you wouldn’t prepare a meal with grimy utensils, neither should you use a sullied deck to work with your source energy, so for me personally, cleansing and dedicating is the first vital step in forming a solid relationship with a new deck.
Do decks have a personality? The jury’s out on this one, after all, it is just 78 pieces of card, yet, without a shred of doubt, each one of my decks gives a different type of reading. My Tarot Illuminati deck is a sassy motherforker. It pulls no punches with readings, and can sometimes be a little harsh. In contrast, my Shadowscapes deck has a comfort blanket vibe; it gives a much gentler, softly-softly approach to readings. If I want the straight-up attitude of my best friend, along with her sarcastic sense of humour, I turn to my Golden Art Nouveau deck. Whether these characteristics are nothing more than my over-active imagination or not, the point is that I’ve connected with each of these decks on an individual level, and that connection began with making the deck my own through ritual.
To begin, you need to cleanse your deck. Whether your deck is brand new or second hand, it’s always a good idea to cleanse it of residual energy—both good and bad. For an older deck, consider its journey to the point when it came to you; all the hands it may have passed through, where it may have been stored, and the kind of atmosphere and energy it may have soaked up. For a new deck, the manufacturing process, transport, being stocked in a store where dozens of curious customers have handled it, all adds to its energy. Much like we come home at the end of the day and shower off the day’s funk, so too will your deck need a cleanse once you get it home.
There are many different ways to cleanse a deck. No one is better than the other, and as with all things ritualistic, remember that the power lies in your intent, not in the tools used in the process. Crystals, candles, herbs, incense; they’re all fun and empowering to employ in ritual, but the true magic lies in you. Don’t be swayed by the witch aesthetic portrayed online. Those fancy, shiny, and often ridiculously expensive tools aren’t the key to wondrous manifestation—you are.
To begin, if your deck is not brand new and straight out of its box, you might like to put it in order. Start with the Major Arcana, from The Fool to The World, then the four suits. Use whichever order feels right to you within the suit; Aces to Kings, or Kings to Aces, and for the suits themselves. I like to order the suits according to their seasonal correspondences, so I go with Wands (Spring) Cups (Summer) Pentacles (Autumn) and Swords (Winter). Choose your own preference. Remember; it’s your deck you’re connecting with, so let your intuition guide you.
Once your deck is in order, you can begin by placing it on a solid surface and rapping on it three times to ‘knock out’ lingering energy.
If your deck is second hand and feels grimy or sticky to the touch, you can carefully clean each card with a damp cloth. Depending on the card stock, you’ll need to decide yourself whether this could help or harm the deck.
Next you can employ one, or a combination of the following methods. Pick what’s practical to your own specific situation, and as always, go with what feels right to you.
Probably one of the most popular methods for cleansing a deck, you can use dried herb bunches, incense sticks/cones, or incense granules. Herbs each have their own properties, so with this in mind, here are a few suggestions for dried herbs which can all be easily sourced.
Sage and Rosemary bring purification and the removal of negative energy.
Lavender contains protection, purification, and intuitive properties.
Mugwort brings cleansing and intuitive properties.
Palo Santo offers purification, too, but I mostly use it after the smoke cleanse to give the deck an energetic boost.
Method: With your incense lighting, fan out the deck in one hand and pass the front and back of the fan through the smoke. Alternatively, you can cleanse each card one by one, washing it through the smoke on both the front and back. While this will take a while longer, I prefer this method as I like the act of handling each individual card and taking the time to say ‘Hi, welcome, nice to meet you! Let’s be friends!’
As you cleanse, you might also like to chant a blessing. You could use something along the lines of; ‘Smoke of *insert herb here, cleanse this card/deck of negative energy so it may work for the highest good of all. Blessed Be.’ To make the ritual even more personal for you and your deck, create your own blessing.
Once you intuitively feel the smoke has cleansed your cards, you’re ready to go. You might like to leave them sit for a while with a crystal on top, lay them out on a windowsill in the moonlight or sun, or you can get stuck in and start working with your new deck immediately!
As with herbs for smoke cleansing, crystals each hold their own unique properties. If you’re not familiar with them, you might like to do a little research. The most common crystals for cleansing, which are also easily found in metaphysical stores, are as follows:
For cleansing, protection and purification: Hematite, Black Tourmaline, or Obsidian.
For clarity, clearing blocked energy, peace, and expansion of the mind, selenite is a go-to for many tarot lovers.
Rose quartz promotes harmony, peace, and love, and is another popular choice.
Clear quartz is the champion all-rounder. For amplification of intent, you can’t go wrong with this gemstone.
Method: All you need to do is pop one or more of the above crystals on the top of the deck and allow it to sit overnight, or for as long as you feel appropriate. Alternatively, if you have a selenite slab, or a large crystal, you can sit the deck on it. Perhaps you have a hoard of gemstones? If so, place them in a bowl or dish, and nestle your deck in there nice and comfy.
It’s a good idea to always keep a crystal or two with your deck as they help to keep your cards free of negative energy while also delivering a little charging boost. Simply choose a crystal and pop it into the box or pouch where you keep your deck. Again, you can undertake research if you’d like to find the most suitable crystal, but don’t overlook your intuition either. If you have a collection of crystals, why not feel out which would like to be paired with your new deck?
While salt burial offers a deep clean for your deck, you do need to wield extreme caution with this method. Decks should always be wrapped for protection, but depending on your location’s humidity, moisture leeching into the cards could cause damage regardless.
Method: Wrap your deck tightly in a plastic bag. Place it inside an airtight container. Bury the container in salt, ensuring it’s covered completely. Leave for up to a week, then remove the cards and dispose of the salt.
Other options for salt cleansing include laying the cards on a Himalayan salt slab, or you can spread out your deck on a suitable surface and surround it with a ring of salt instead.
Sound brings a change in vibration which cleanses and energises the air. It’s a simple and fun way to cleanse a deck.
Method: Place the deck near the source of sound. You can fan it out, or leave it stacked. Activate the sound, whether it be a singing bowl, bells, music, or even your own voice. You can clap too, and guess what? Clapping is free! Why not play calm and soothing music, or shake up your deck’s energy with a blast of rock. A little Guns n’ Roses might be just the ticket for your new deck.
Air and Earth cleansing
What better than the cleansing and grounding energies of Air and Earth for your deck? You do need to use common sense for this method, but it’s cost-free!
Take weather, location, children, pets etc. into consideration before bringing your precious deck outside. You don’t want cards blowing away, getting a mud-bath, or ending up in your pet’s mouth.
Method: Take your deck outside. Place it on a cloth on the ground. Fan out the cards and leave the fresh air and grounding earth work their magic.
If exposing your cards to the elements isn’t an option, you can also place them beside an open window. I do recommend fanning out the cards, so you might want to weigh them down with crystals in case rogue puffs of wind try to make off with them.
Breath and Touch Cleansing
Two more cost-free methods are that of touch and breath. These are handy ways to clean your cards if nothing else is available and you urgently need to shake the funk out of your deck.
Method: Hold the deck in your palms. Ground yourself; imagining roots growing from the soles of your feet and travelling to the centre of the earth. White light rushes up through these roots, and with a few inhales, your body is soon awash with this cleansing, pure light. Cup the deck between both palms and imagine the light now pouring into the cards, evaporating negative energy.
Your breath holds this cleansing power too, so with slow and deliberate inhales and exhales, breathe the white light over your deck.
Take as long as feels right with this touch and breath ritual. When you’re done, you can clap your hands and/or stamp your feet to shake off any residual negative energy.
How to dedicate your tarot or oracle deck
Now that your new deck is squeaky clean, it’s time to dedicate or consecrate it. Consecrate means to ‘sanctify or make holy’. As the deck is your conduit to Spirit, you want it to vibrate at the highest possible level for clear insight, guidance and protection. A dedication ritual tunes the deck into its purpose, along with deepening your connection to it.
Once again, use your intuition with this ritual. The below method is the one I practice, and as I prefer to keep things simple, this ritual isn’t in any way complicated. Take or leave what suits you, or use it as the bones to craft your own ritual.
I work with the elements for my tarot deck blessings. I’m listing the tools I use, but including suggestions for inspiration. As it’s an elemental blessing, you’ll need an object representing Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.
Air: Yellow, East. I use sage.
Fire: Red, South. I use a tea-light.
Water: Blue, West. I use a shell filled with moon water.
Earth: Green, North. I use a quartz geode.
Spirit: White or Purple. (I always place Spirit in the centre) I use a stone painted with a pentagram.
A very simple elemental set can be made by gathering five stones from your garden or local green space. You can paint the stones in their corresponding colours, or mark them in some way to indicate the element they represent. Many easy to find items can also be used to represent the elements; feathers, pine cones, shells, crystals, tea-lights, salt, earth, etc. Use your intuition. If you find an object that you intuitively feel represents an element, don’t worry about whether it’s ‘right or wrong’. Just go with it!
Lay out your elemental representations on a cloth, altar, or any space that feels right for your ritual. Along with your five elemental representations, place a tea-light/candle north of Earth.
According to your spiritual practice, prepare you and your space for the ritual. This may mean drawing a circle, grounding and centring, reciting a prayer, or cleansing with sage. Once you and your space are ready, light the candle north of Earth, and if you’re using a candle to represent Fire, and incense for Air, light them too.
Greet the elements, thanking them for their presence, protection, and blessings. Tell them you’re consecrating your tarot deck, and humbly ask for their energies to imbue the deck with positive energy.
Begin with Air. Hold the deck over the elemental representation and say: Element of Air. Bless this deck with your gifts of clear communication and illumination. Imbue it with the power of knowing and understanding. (Feel free to craft your own blessings for each element!)
Fire: Hold the deck over the elemental representation and say: Element of Fire. Bless this deck with your gifts of passion, strength, and courage to promote the power of transformation.
Water: Hold the deck over the elemental representation and say: Element of Water: Bless this deck with your gifts of empathy, intuition, and healing. (I sprinkle the deck with the water.)
Earth: Hold the deck over the elemental representation and say: Element of Earth, bless this deck with the abundance of wisdom, practicality, and grounding energy. (I place the deck on my quartz geode. You could sprinkle your deck with salt, earth, dried herbs, etc.)
Spirit: Hold the deck over the elemental representation and say: Spirits, Angels and guides, bless this deck with your gifts of protection and guidance. Grant me wisdom, insight and truth so I may serve for the Highest Good of All. Blessed Be. (I place the deck in the centre of the circle and set my Spirit stone on top. I also add the crystals I want to keep with the deck.)
To finish, thank the elements for their presence and blessings, and wish them safe departure. If you have a candle representing Fire, snuff it out.
If it’s safe to do so, I leave the second candle burning. If not, I snuff it out. (Try to avoid blowing out a candle during ritual. It’s better to snuff or pinch out the flame.) I then leave the deck to bathe in the space for as long as I feel necessary with the crystals on top.
I hope this cleansing and dedication ritual has filled you with inspiration! It’s fairly simple, (just like me, ha ha) and doesn’t demand you part with any pennies. While it’s intended for new decks, you can use it any time, especially if you’ve had a deck lying dormant and want to start using it again. You might even whip out a few decks and use the ritual to give them a regular cleanse and dedication. Go with what feels right! (Broken record much?)