I just love the imagery and symbolism of Tarot cards and really enjoy breaking in a new Tarot deck. Getting to know a brand-new tarot deck is an exciting chance to develop your intuition and fall in love with tarot.
Although most decks have the same basic 78 cards, based on the same archetypes, the art style and “feel” of each deck will vary wildly. So, what’s the best way to break in a new deck?
There are several different ways to break in tarot cards, and experiment to find out what works best for you: Study the cards, journal your impressions, give yourself daily readings, cleanse your cards, and perform a “get to know your deck” reading. Have fun and listen to your intuition.
Once you’ve found your preferred method, you can also use it to cleanse an older deck if you sense it’s picked up some negative energy, or even if you just need to refresh yourself on a particular deck’s symbolism.
Before we get into breaking into a new tarot deck, I wanted to mention the Related Articles section at the bottom of this page. I’ve written a number of articles that you might find interesting related to this top. Don’t press the back button until you’ve reviewed the articles at the end!
OK, let’s get into some tried and true ways to break in your new tarot deck!
Table of Contents
Use Your New Tarot Cards Daily
It sounds obvious, but the best way to break in a new deck is to use it. That doesn’t mean jumping straight into complex, multi-card spreads, however.
Spend some time going through the deck, card by card, and studying the art. Familiarize yourself with the style used and think about cards that you especially like or dislike.
Some people start with the major arcana and move through to the minor in order but do what feels natural to you. If you want to spread them all out, shuffle them up, and pick them out at random, go for it!
Here are 3 articles that I’ve written that talk about the Major and Minor Arcana:
- 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?
Record Your Impressions in a Journal
If you keep a tarot journal, make some notes on your impressions. If there are cards that really speak to you, write down your feelings.
Don’t worry if your initial thoughts don’t seem coherent – so much of tarot interpretation is about working with our subconscious, so if that King of Swords looks like Dwight Schrute to you, that’s completely valid!
I love these tarot journals, you can find them on Amazon:
My favorite journal is the Tarot Tracker. There is an appendix for a quick keyword reference for each card as well as annual, seasonal and daily reading suggestions.
Consult the Accompanying Guidebook
Most new decks will come with a guidebook written by the artist/creator, explaining their intentions with the art they chose.
Because Tarot art covers everything from the traditional Rider-Waite style to the more outlandish Dunder Mifflin style, and everything you can imagine in between, it is useful to consider the artist’s aims when breaking in a new deck.
More abstract art may lend itself to deeper, more personal interpretations, but this isn’t always ideal for a beginner. More traditional styles make it easier to familiarize yourself with the meanings behind each card.
Give yourself a Reading!
Only you can decide when you’re comfortable enough to start doing readings with your new deck. But once you are ready, dive in! This is how you truly build a relationship with the cards – by using them.
It’s not necessarily advisable to start doing complicated, in-depth readings every day, since your life situation is unlikely to change that fast, and thus the cards can’t provide useful readings. Nor do you have to have every possible interpretation memorized before you begin reading.
But drawing one card a day, in the morning, is a great way to build comfort and familiarity with the deck. I like to do this every day before I leave the house. Simply shuffle the cards and frame a simple question in your mind, such as “What do I need to know today?” or “Where do I need to focus today?”
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When you feel ready, cut the deck into three piles and recombine them however you choose. Draw the top card and spend a little time reflecting on the imagery and meaning.
Again, if you keep a tarot journal, scribble down your thoughts and impressions, and try to keep the card’s message in mind as you go about your day.
I’ve written a couple of articles about giving yourself a reading, check out these here:
Deck Interview Spreads
A deck interview spread is another great way to get to know your deck or you can develop your own. Keep the questions simple and straightforward.
Sample Tarot Interview Spread
Shuffle your deck, and cut your deck into three piles. Combine the piles then pull off 6 Cards. As you are shuffling, focus on the deck and ask the deck to tell you about itself:
- What is your most important characteristic?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses (limitations)?
- What can you teach me?
- How can we best work together?
- What is our potential together?
You can place the cards in any shape you wish.
You could also ask questions such as “What are you here to teach me?” and/or “How can I work best with you?” and/or “Describe me”, to offer a few examples.
Over time, you’ll develop a spread that works best for you and will help you decide how to get the best out of your deck.
Here are a number of tarot spreads that you can use for different purposes:
- Best Tarot Spread Layouts
- Best Spreads for Beginners
- When to use the Celtic Cross spread
- How to do the Celtic Cross Spread
- Past life tarot spread
- Best tarot spread for love
- Best tarot spreads for relationships
- Best Tarot Spread for Guidance
- How to us Tarot for Yes or No Answers
Cleansing Your Tarot Cards
Some people choose to cleanse their cards as part of breaking in the deck. If your deck is second-hand, this can be an especially important step, as you don’t want the energy of past users clinging to your cards
There are several ways you can do this, and again, you should go with what feels natural to you and not be afraid to experiment.
I wrote an article about cleansing your Tarot cards; you can read it here: How do you cleanse tarot cards in between readings
Sorting and Shuffling
This is a great, quick way to imbue the cards with your own energy. Simply sort them into order (if they’re out of order) and spend some time shuffling them.
While you’re doing this, you can look at the cards and see what impressions jump out at you. This will help reinvigorate the deck and stamp your own personal energy into them.
I’ve also written a number of articles about shuffling your tarot cards, here is a list of those articles:
- Are you supposed to shuffle tarot cards?
- How to shuffle your Tarot cards. A step-by-step guide
- When tarot cards fall out of the deck, what does it mean?
- Can you use a tarot deck with missing cards?
Find a quiet, comfortable place and get settled with the deck in your hands. Let your mind clear and just “be” with the deck. You may like to visualize a protective white light enveloping the deck.
This is another fast, easy way to cleanse the cards and get a feel for their energy, and can be done at any time!
Another article that discusses meditation and bonding with your tarot cards is, “How to bond with your tarot cards“.
The full moon is a potent source of energy, and a lot of practitioners use this time to intentionally consecrate their cards. Check when the next full moon is due, and if you like, sort the cards into order from the Fool, through the Major Arcana, and on through the Minor Arcana.
On the night of the full moon, leave the deck where they’ll be in the moonlight, and there you have it! You can also do this with sunlight but be aware that this can damage the cards.
Smudging is a time-honored way to cleanse a deck. Simply burn some incense, or herbs, wood bundles, or whatever you prefer, and pass the cards through the smoke. Visualize the smoke carrying away any negative energies attached to the deck.
Just a note on smudging though – a lot of commonly-used smudging products, such as sage and palo santo are over-harvested, which has a detrimental impact on the environment. So do your research!
And remember, you can always simply choose a scent that appeals most to you. I prefer lavender incense, personally. If you love the smell of beets, cleanse with beet bundles! Your intentions are always what matters most.
Here’s a couple of examples of items available from Amazon for smudging:
Storing Your Cards
A key part of breaking in your deck and developing your relationship with it, is taking care of it. That means storing it safely.
Some people prefer to keep them in the boxes they came in, and that’s absolutely fine. You can also buy special boxes designed for the purpose, as well as bags made from a variety of materials, from velvet to organza.
Pick out something that makes you happy and will protect the cards from environmental damage.
You could also consider storing them with cleansing crystals, which will help absorb heavy or negative energy they may pick up.
Clear quartz and selenite are great for this – I keep a selenite wand near my tarot collection as a good “passive” cleanser.
I’ve written a couple of detailed articles about storing your cards:
- Storing your tarot cards the right way! Essential guide.
- What should I keep my tarot cards in?
- How to get rid of tarot cards safely?
When Breaking in Your Tarot Cards, Trust Your Intuition
The most important part of breaking in a new deck is to trust yourself. Whatever method resonates best with you, is the one you’re going to get the best results with.
Just be sure to really take your time to dig into the deck’s unique meanings and symbols and take pleasure in getting to know it! Happy reading!
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I’d love to hear about your experience. Please connect with me, after you’ve had a reading…
- How to bond with your tarot cards: 15 ways that work!
- How do you cleanse tarot cards in between readings
- Tarot readings for pets. Is it really a thing?
- How is astrology and tarot related?
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