Most tarot readers will cleanse a new tarot deck immediately after purchase, and also cleanse their existing tarot cards regularly. When you cleanse tarot cards, you remove any build-up of negative energies or emotions — and clear the deck for better, more in-tune readings.
If you’re looking for ways to cleanse your tarot cards, read on for our complete guide deck cleansing.
What is cleansing a tarot deck?
First let’s clear up some misconceptions: Cleansing a tarot deck is not a physical process. We’re not talking about wiping off smudges here.
DEFINITION: Cleansing a tarot deck is a practice or ritual which purges tarot cards of the negative energies and emotional residues left over from prior readings, or from handling the cards.
There are dozens of different ways to cleanse a deck of tarot cards. Which cleansing ritual is best for you, and how often to cleanse your tarot cards are decisions you’ll have to make on your own.
Do I have to cleanse tarot cards?
Many tarot readers don’t cleanse their tarot decks at all. Some only cleanse new tarot decks. Others only cleanse a deck if it’s used, or is vintage.
While it’s certainly not necessary to cleanse your tarot cards while you’re learning, many lifelong readers who recommend the practice, recommend getting into the habit from day one of your tarot journey.
When should I cleanse tarot cards
The choice of when to cleanse your tarot deck, and how often to cleanse your deck is up to you. Many readers observe they can tell when their deck needs cleansing as the deck will “feel tired” or uninspired. Many others make a practice of cleansing their deck at regular intervals (For example, during the Full Moon).
Many readers observe they can tell when their deck needs cleansing as the deck will “feel tired” or uninspired.
Most tarot readers will perform some kind of ritual cleanse right away on any newly purchased deck of tarot cards. This is especially true when purchasing used or vintage decks, as there are potential energies and residual emotions on the cards that pre-date your ownership. Many tarot readers won’t purchase used decks at all for this very reason.
Many readers are also picky about who touches their tarot cards. If someone does touch them, that’s usually a good time to perform a cleanse on your tarot deck before doing any more readings.
How often should I cleanse my tarot deck?
As noted above, many readers will do a major cleanse their cards according to the lunar cycle. Others will cleanse their cards on New Years Day, on an equinox ,or other important calendar day.
Keep in mind though that many of the cleansing methods we’ll get to below are passive methods. For example, storing your cards under a crystal, or in a bowl of salt take no time at all. They’re really methods of storing your cards.
So from that perspective, you can cleanse your cards after every use.
What are some ways to cleanse tarot cards?
Here are 10 ways to cleanse your tarot cards. Some of these methods are more elaborate than others. Choose the one that feels appropriate for you at the time, given the amount and type of cleansing you feel is necessary.
Cleansing your tarot cards with incense
In dozens of cultures around the world, burning incense to spiritually cleanse and to ward off negative energy is common practice.
Which type of incense to use for cleansing your tarot deck is up to you, but traditional choices include sage or palo santo. Of course, you can also use any type of stick incense or cones as well. Many types of incense are formulated especially for cleansing rituals and contain special mixtures of herbs and aromatics.
Some tarot readers will perform a very thorough cleanse by waving each card through the incense smoke, but it’s more common simply to hold the entire deck in the smoke while saying a prayer or clearing your mind and preparing for the reading ahead. The choice is yours.
Cleansing your tarot cards under a full moon
A long-time favorite of tarot readers is to cleanse cards in the light of a full moon. Obviously, this isn’t the type of cleanse you can do frequently, so this type of cleanse isn’t suited for regular cleanses after someone touches your deck or in between readings.
To cleanse tarot cards under the full moon, you’ll need to keep track of the moon phase and plan your cleansing date in advance.
The most common method is to cleanse on a window sill, as cleansing outside runs the risk of rain, wind or snow ruining your tarot deck. However, if you’ve got a clear night ahead of you, then outside under the direct light of the full moon is preferable.
Some tarot readers will wrap their cards on a clean white handkerchief and place them stacked under the moon. Others will spread their cards out, so that the moonlight strikes the face of each card.
Cleansing your tarot cards with crystals
One of the easiest and most common ways to cleanse a tarot deck is with crystals. The process can’t be more simple: Place a large crystal on top of your tarot deck whenever you’re not using it.
The type of crystal is up to you, but favorites include amethyst crystals, quartz crystals, selenite and tourmaline. Many tarot readers will use combinations of crystals, each of which is thought to enhance the deck in different ways.
Cleansing your tarot deck by knocking on it
Yes, knocking on your tarot cards. “Knocking” is a very old European witchcraft tradition which consists of knocking on something three times to drive negative energies forth. The old expression “knock on wood” comes from this same tradition, as it was thought the spirits that lived in trees could be brought into houses inside wooden furniture.
Cleansing a deck by knocking on it is easily added to any other cleansing ritual, and it’s also easy to do quickly in between readings.
Simply place the deck face down on a surface, and knock the entire deck firmly three times to cleanse your tarot cards.
Cleansing your tarot cards by separating the suits
Another easy cleansing method is to sort your tarot deck into 5 parts: 4 suits, and the Major Arcana. Place each stack on the table and then pick them up again, combine and re-shuffle.
Many tarot readers also order each suit from Ace to King, and order the Major Arcana starting with The Fool.
This system can easily be combined with other cleansing methods. You can knock 3 times on each pile, place crystals on top of each pile, or place the piles in a circle with incense burning in the middle.
Cleansing your tarot cards with salt
To cleanse your tarot cards with salt, you’ll need quite a bit of salt. Pour salt into a medium sized bowl, large enough to hold your tarot cards. Then wrap your deck carefully to protect the finish of the cards. You can use a handkerchief but many tarot readers prefer a plastic bag. Submerge your wrapped tarot deck underneath the salt, and leave them there for a few minutes, or keep them covered in salt until your next reading.
One variation of the salt technique is to use a large salt crystal or salt slab, and place it on top of the cards in a similar way to using crystals to cleanse cards.
Do I need to cleanse cards before an online tarot reading?
While the question of cleansing digital tarot cards may seem crazy to some, it’s actually a question that many readers ask — and it’s an interesting one. Generally speaking, cleansing is something that’s done after physical contact with cards. If you’re doing an online tarot reading there’s no physical contact with the cards themselves.
Another way to look at is, when you download anything, you’re technically making your own copy of it. In that respect, an online tarot reading is always being done with your own fresh deck of cards.