Have you thought about cleansing your tarot deck? I can be somewhat superstitious at times and recently let a “negatively” charged friend of mine (i.e. a bit of a Debbie Downer) handle my tarot cards (I don’t know why I did that, rookie mistake!)
Ever since then, I’ve felt a negative energy when performing my tarot readings. I am convinced I need to rid my tarot cards of the bummer energy that my gal-pal (surely) passed on to my deck. So, how do you cleanse tarot cards in between readings (or incidents)?
There are numerous different cleansing rituals and ideas that may cleanse your deck sufficiently. Some techniques are simple and others more difficult. It is up to the individual to decide which to use. Some choose not to because they don’t think it is necessary.
For those who do believe in a good old-fashioned cleansing ritual to rid yourself, your space, or in this case, your tarot cards of bad juju, I’ve listed 13 different options for purifying your deck.
For those who are not as “woo-woo” and don’t readily subscribe to this idea of cleaning your tarot cards, I’d encourage you to read on – as I address this contrasting ideological thinking at the end of the list.
I’ve also created a list of Related Articles at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!
Table of Contents
13 Ways to Cleanse Your Tarot Cards
For my fellow spiritual gals and guys who do adhere to cleansing rituals, I am certain you will find at the very least one of these cleansing techniques intriguing and helpful. This list begins with the simplest concepts, ending with the more spiritually complex or “a little out there” ideas.
1. Reshuffling & Reorganizing
This is a fairly common activity many tarot readers already perform in between readings. The purpose of reshuffling or reorganizing a tarot deck is akin to that of a deck of playing cards.
With casual playing cards we reshuffle because when we play the next round of whatever game we’re engaging in, we want to be sure we won’t be dealt the same cards – because that’s boring and unfair.
Reshuffling your tarot cards, at the most basic level, is done for a similar reason. However, when we are looking at the reorganizing of the deck as a means of intentional cleansing, the approach may look a bit more methodical.
Ideas for How to Shuffle with Intention
Start by sorting your cards in order: the Major Arcana first, then into each of the respective suits of the Minor Arcana. If we’re being more specific, I like to make my Fool card number 1, ending with the World card (within my Major Arcana).
Side note… I thought I’d point out a couple of related artciles, that I’ve written about the Major and Minor Arcana… Check these out here:
- How to use the Major Arcana tarot cards
- How to read the Minor Arcana Tarot Cards
- What’s the difference between the Major and Minor Arcana?
I do this because the Fool embodies a new soul, child, a beginning – whereas the World represents the end of a journey or a conclusion to something.
To me, for the broader picture of the human experience, it feels most natural to order it this way. However, everyone’s tarot deck is unique to them in the way they interpret it, so please organize in whatever way suits your needs best.
While in the process of re-shuffling, do make sure to account for every card in your 78-card deck. Ensure none are missing, as this can potentially throw your tarot energy off-kilter.
The reorganizing of the cards is also the perfect time to reacquaint yourself with your deck. In the same way that we can drive by the same building and never notice it, often times we get so used to seeing the same images in our deck, we stop really investigating them as though they were new to us.
Reorganizing, especially with regards to cleansing, allows you the time and space to familiarize yourself with your deck and perhaps even conjure new meaning in cards you hadn’t given time to recently.
Fortunately, this very simple rite of cleansing is quick and easy. It is truly the perfect reset in between readings (especially if yours are back to back).
Other rituals you’ll see below may require more of your time, but a quick reshuffle is often times going to be your best bet.
I wrote an article about shuffling, read that here: “How to shuffle your Tarot cards. A step-by-step guide“
Here’s a great video about shuffling:
2. Blow on Your Tarot Cards
I know this sounds slightly bizarre, but the ritual of blowing on game die for good luck (during craps, for example) is not so dissimilar. This concept of blowing on things to endow them with good fortune or magic is actually more common in our culture than we think.
Blowing out birthday candles, for example, is a way in which we expel our breathe in hopes the extinguished flame will grant us a wish.
Now, please don’t think I’m saying that breathing on your tarot cards will make your wishes come true – it likely will not, sorry to disappoint. However, it is a simple way to gift your cards with a little something extra in between readings.
If you place intention and good will behind that breathe, it acts as a silent prayer or wish. And what’s bad about that?
If you have the time and the space to sit in silence with your cards and clear your mind, meditation is a truly wonderful practice for resetting your tarot cards. Quietly sit cross-legged with your deck of cards split and resting both palms.
Close your eyes and relax. Thoughts will inevitably invade your mind by telling those thoughts, “no, thank you, I’m busy right now,” and save them for later.
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While in this state of relaxation, visualize what energy you want to charge your tarot cards with. Imagine a protective white light is surrounding you and your cards and that this light will remain present with your deck even after your meditation is over.
If this sounds eerily similar to some principles of Reiki, that’s because it is. If you happen to be gifted and learned in the art of Reiki, then you can perform the same kind of energy healing on your cards as you would yourself or a friend.
4. Recite and Incantation or Prayer
In the same way that we all have different Love Languages (If you have not read this book, I would encourage you to do so. It’s written by Gary Chapman, “The 5 Love Languages” found on Amazon, and this book really gave me insight into myself and my partner.) We all have different ways of tapping into our spirituality.
For some, it is silently holding space for ourselves and the divine (meditation). For others, it is verbally expressing our hopes into a poem, prayer, spell, or incantation.
Whether you believe in the power of the Universe, God, the Goddess, many Goddesses, an incantation of any kind places a verbal intention upon your tarot deck for an unmistakable cleansing ritual.
I’ve written an example of a prayer you could whisper over your cards for reference. It is a way of seeking guidance from a higher power, and this is my personal go-to for spiritual cleansing of any kind.
“I am thankful for the gifts I have been given to interpret these tarot cards and provide insight to others and to myself. I ask that these cards be endowed with light, love, prosperity, truth, kindness, creativity, and opportunity.
May I be an open vessel to the highest form of intuition and truth. May I become one with my deck, that it may act as a mirror to whoever’s journey it has the good fortune of telling.
Let negativity, darkness, despair, cruelty, and confusion have no place within my tarot deck. This sacred stack shall be impenetrable by evil forces – as only good may come from my interactions with my tarot cards.”
5. Moon Bath
For those who subscribe to astrology, a moon bath is an excellent source of positive energy and a delightful method of cleaning your tarot cards.
A moon bath can be as benign as leaving your deck of cards upon the windowsill or outside (somewhere safe and dry) when the moon is at its fullest. Or, your moon bath can be as concise and in depth as you like!
An Astrologically Specific Moon Bath
When I throw around the world astrology, it can often feel overwhelming to read or listen to if you don’t have a point of reference. The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need is a fantastic book for beginning astrology.
Check out the book and reviews of Joanna Martine Woolfolk’s book “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” on Amazon, click here.
Providing an astrologically specific moon bath to your tarot deck means paying special attention to how the moon moves through the 12 positions of the zodiac wheel. For my astrological newbies, there are 12 months in a year, and 12 zodiac signs (my zodiac sign is Cancer as I was born in July.)
Here’s an article about the zodiac signs: How many Zodiac Signs are there?
If I wanted to super charge my tarot deck and endow it with something specific, I might time my moon bath during the Cancer moon (June-July).
Here’s an article that talks about how Tarot and Astrology are related: How is astrology and tarot related?
Cancer has an affinity for rich emotions, which leads to deeper relationships & friendships and often times, wisdom for understanding life. To charge my deck under the Cancer full moon, would essentially add this extra specific element to my deck for the next few days.
Another aritcle that you might find interesting, related to the zodiac sign Cancer is, “What tarot card represents Cancer?“
Here’s a YouTube video that show how to do a Moon bath:
6. Altar Ritual Cleansing
If you have an altar, you can perform an altar ritual like you might do in your regular spiritual practice for your other life needs. Place white or gold candles on your altar to represent cleansing and positive energies, place your charged crystals (crystal quartz or selenite are ideal) upon your sacred space as well, and place your tarot card deck at the every center.
Once your altar is set up to your desired specifications, you can begin your ritual by drawing a circle around you to protect you and your altar while you perform your ritual.
This ritual may include the practice of chanting, meditation or smudging. Once you are done cleansing your cards upon your altar, re-open the circle around you.
New to the concept of altars? Here are some great examples of what your home altar may look like (the point is really to personalize it to represent you and your personal needs.)
I also talk about creating an alter when you use tarot cards for manifestation. Read this article, “How to use tarot cards for manifestation.”
7. Smoke Rituals for Cleansing
Smoke rituals, for lack of being too obvious, are rituals in which you use some kind of smoke to perform a cleansing. The most common form of smoke cleansing is called smudging (read this to see how this word has been misappropriated).
Take your smudge stick (white sage, sweet grass, or palo santo), light it, and wave the smoke over your tarot cards.
While you perform the smudging ritual, think positive and purifying thoughts. This is another quick and simple act to do in between readings if you’re in a rush, and it will lift the energy of your space as well with these bright, woodsy smells.
A word of caution: before care with the smoke near your cards – while you want to move the cards through the smoke to be cleansed, you don’t want to risk burning the cards or surrounding them with so much smoke that it warps them.
The other way to smoke cleanse your deck is to use incense. Many religious traditions involve burning incense for purification purposes. Find the smell that ignites positivity and let it fill your space (and penetrate your tarot card deck.)
You can use stick cone or loose incense, and you can cleanse each individual card or the deck as a whole. Again, this is always a user’s preference.
If you love the idea of incense, but you have bad allergies or are intolerant to smoke, you can use essential oils with a diffuser instead (sage, lavender, or a purification blend are nice.
DoTerra’s Purify blend is one of my favorites, it smells crisp and citrusy and really elevates energetic properties in any room its in.) Amazon has the essential oils and Diffuser, check them out here.
8. Crystal Healing
Many tarot users are familiar with the intrinsically magical and natural healing properties of crystals.
The Crystal Bible, by Judy Hall is, in my opinion, the number one source for learning about every crystal in existence and their unique and magical properties. Click here to check out Judy Halls book “The Crystal Bible”, on Amazon.
To cleanse your tarot card deck using crystals, select the crystals in which you deem best to cleanse and/or to endow your deck.
My recommendations are:
- clear quartz (purifies and amplifies energies)
- selenite (performs natural cleansing as well as connects you/your cards to spirit guides)
- black tourmaline (absorber of negative energy, and grounds you and your tarot cards)
- amethyst (purifies, amplifies energies, and enhances intuition and psychic senses.)
Once you’ve chosen your crystals of choice, place them directly on top of your deck for at least two days to a week. Energetically charged crystals (that have been re-charged by a full moon bath) will deliver the best results.
Another purifying crystal that gets less attention than it should is salt rock. I have a salt rock lamp to help purify my space, as it cleanses the air and salt has natural purifying properties.
If you own a salt lamp, you may also place your tarot deck near (but not too near so as to overheat the deck) the salt lamp to imbue it with its purifying qualities.
9. Sound Bath
As I mentioned earlier, we all connect to our spirituality in different ways. While some may need to say or write out a verbal prayer/chant, others connect to spirituality through music or sound.
If this speaks to you, you may be interested in performing a sound bath in between your tarot readings to musically clear your space of negative energies.
To perform a sound bath, you’ll need a singing bowl and a dowel to ring the bowl. You will then place your cards inside the bowl itself and perform a sound bath (this literally means to make a soothing sound to heal yourself or your space.)
If nothing else, the sound is delightful and will likely calm you and improve your mood, if not cleanse your deck.
Check out Amazon for White Noise Machines. I like the White Noise Sound Machine, it has 6 natural sounds including White Noise, Thunder, Ocean, Rain, Summer Night, and a Brook. It is great value under $25. (image below)
If you want more sound options, the Yogasleep Whish White Noise Machine has 16 sound options. It’s a little more expensive but provides more options. See the images below.
On the high end, there is the High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine, it has high-quality natural sound without any looping. It’s the most expensive on this list, but if you want more sound options, this is the one to pick!
Okay, so this is maybe the silliest thing I will recommend, as it sounds like a joke. However, it is not so different from blowing on your deck of cards or reshuffling. The knocking method involves you literally knocking on your tarot deck like it’s a door.
You knock three times (as three is a spiritual number), and the theory is that by knocking on your cards, you are waking them up, or reinvigorating them. In the same way that you knock on a door to announce your presence, you are, in essence, telling your cards, “I’m here, I’m ready, time to perform.”
While it may seem silly, it is one of the absolute quickest ways to reset your deck in between readings. If your tarot reading schedules are back to back, you may find yourself doing this simple action in between for lack of time.
11. Fresh Air
Never underestimate the power of good, clean, fresh air. This is especially true if your deck has been stowed away and unused for a while. To dust off your deck and give it a refresh, there is no simpler, more natural way than to simply take your deck outside into the crisp, clean air.
This is particularly effective after a fresh rain or on an especially sunny clear day. Hot tip: the fresh air is good for you too.
12. Salt Bath
This is perhaps the most elaborate cleansing ritual you can do with your tarot cards. As I mentioned earlier, salt has natural purifying qualities. In the same way, you might bathe in Epsom salts after a particularly long, tiring, or physically demanding day, you can bathe your deck in salt to achieve similar results.
To clarify, though: you will not be placing your cards in water. Your cards are made of paper – water will 100% ruin your deck.
The salt bath cleansing ritual will require a container, a zip-lock bag, and salt. You will place your tarot cards in your zip-lock bag and seal them tightly. Make sure no air can get in. Then place your cards in this bag inside your container.
Then pour salt into the container so that your deck is fully submerged in salt. Then close the lit to your container. Perform this salt bath for at least 24hrs and up to one week. Then remove cards, and voila! You’ve got yourself a purified deck.
13. Elemental Clearing
Last but not least, the art of elemental cleaning is not to be ignored. I think by now we’ve all heard of Marie Kondo’s Art of Tidying Up, her book can be purchased through Amazon, here is the link. I know I personally went through the motions to clean my space using her technique and found it tremendously helpful for my general well-being.
The same is true for cleansing your tarot deck. If your space is untidy and overwhelmed with clutter, then your tarot deck may be suffocating as a result.
The elemental clearing is essentially clearing your space to make room for the energies you want to be more present. If you feel like your readings have felt unclear or cloudy recently, this cleaning ritual may just do the trick. Having a clean space can allow you to have a clean mind, and in turn, be able to communicate with your deck more clearly.
Reasons You Might Want to Cleanse Your Tarot Cards
There are many reasons you may feel compelled to purify your tarot deck. As you know, I recently endeavored to clean mine due to them falling into the hands of a negative friend. However, your reason for cleaning your tarot deck may differ! Here are my recommendations for when/why to perform a cleansing ritual on your tarot cards.
Other People Have Touched your Cards
Some tarot readers do not subscribe to this superstition. However, many believe that no one aside from yourself should handle your tarot deck.
There are many reasons for these, but the two main reasons are to avoid someone else’s energies impregnating your cards and because someone may accidentally mishandle or injure the cards.
Thus, if someone has imposed their will upon your tarot deck, you may want to clean it up.
You Bought a New or Second-Hand Deck
When you first purchase a brand new deck, you will want to assert yourself as your deck’s master and partner. A cleansing ritual or even an endowment ritual is great for connecting you and your new cards.
Likewise, if you’ve purchased or been gifted a deck secondhand, you will want to purify the deck, as you don’t know who owned it prior and what kind of energy or hang-ups they might have had.
Your Cards Have Been Unused for a Long Period of Time
If you are pulling your tarot deck out of a moving box from your attic, you’ll want to dust that baby off and reinvigorate the cards (and theoretically) wake them back up.
Exposure to Negative Energy
If you or your tarot cards have been exposed to negative energy, if you have had a particularly draining tarot reading session, or if you are experiencing trauma or stress in your life right now, you may want to cleanse your cards.
Your Cards Have Fallen on the Floor or Are Physically Dirty
This may seem rather obvious, but if the physical body of your deck has been affected in any way, either being scattered across the floor, having gotten dirty, or any other physical element, you may feel compelled to cleanse your cards both elementally and physically.
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Your Readings Have Grown Cloudy
If, during your recent readings, you have found yourself feeling confused and meanings of cards feel suddenly unclear or hazy, it may be time to re-anoint your cards.
This could be due to stress or imbalance in your life or physical space itself. This could also occur if you just haven’t connected deeply with your tarot deck in a long time.
Why You May Not Need to Clean Your Tarot Cards at All
As promised, I said I would discuss a very important opposing viewpoint to cleansing tarot decks, and that viewpoint is that it is totally unnecessary.
Some tarot practitioners do not believe energetic imbalance exists in our cards, or even that a tarot deck is even capable of such a thing.
This school of thought is simply that the reader is responsible for all energies they put into the readings. In reality, your cards are just cards.
They are made of trees that were turned into cardboard and sent to a printing press somewhere in China that mass-produced your Major and Minor Arcana. (I know, it really takes the magic out of tarot).
This ideology is important to recognize however because it reminds oneself that we have to be taking care of and be responsible for ourselves and our inner lives. It is very easy to blame our dusty tarot deck for our marred readings.
However, we can just as easily recognize that our deck is still at the end of the day and inanimate object, and that were are the living breathing being working with them.
If we aren’t performing proper self-care, if we have negative attitudes, if we are in an incredibly stressful season of our lives, the way we perform tarot will be affected.
So Then, What Can Be Done?
While this school of thought may mean performing a cleansing ritual on your cards themselves is unnecessary, it would instead encourage doing some self-healing and introspection.
You can do this by seeing a therapist, watching a movie that makes you laugh till your belly aches, spending time with friends who make you feel truly happy or writing down the things that feel out of balance in your life.
“Your mind can be a powerful healing tool when given the chance. The idea that your brain can convince your body a fake treatment is the real thing — the so-called placebo effect — and thus stimulate healing has been around for millennia. Now science has found that under the right circumstances, a placebo can be just as effective as traditional treatments.”Harvard Medical School
That all being said: there is power in the placebo effect. Maybe you might not believe your tarot deck can contain any power, magic or energy. But you might subscribe to the idea that the act of performing a ritual, in and of itself, creates a placebo effect, which may allow you to move forward in your practice and rid you of your energetic funk.
If you are holding your practice back by not dealing with your inner demons, perhaps a cleansing ritual may be the outer expression of “dealing with your problems.”
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Tarot Cleansing Kit, On Amazon
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I’ll fill the diffuser with lavender or peppermint. With the thunder in the background and the smell of peppermint, it’s like being whisked away to a far away place!