Thursday, October 4, 2007

Lesson 5 -- Cleansing and Protecting Your Cards

Here's my take on ritual and ceremony in regard to divination. The more rules you create for how tarot reading should be done, the more you put yourself in a box. The fact is, there are no rules. The only wrong way to read tarot is to do it with bad intentions. The only wrong way to treat your cards is to treat them in a way that makes you uncomfortable or goes against your belief system.

Your cards don't need a moon bath or to be passed through incense smoke. They don't need special colored cloths to cover them. They don't need a sacred box to be stored in or to be kept on an altar. They don't need to be prayed over. They don't need protection from evil spirits. They don't need any of these things unless it makes you happy to do them. Tarot cards are just a tool, like a hammer or a screwdriver. The "magic" is in you. So, in caring for and cleansing your cards, do what You need, not what someone somewhere says your cards need. They're just paper. All they really need is to be kept out of direct sunlight (or they will fade over time) and to be kept away from liquids.

My tarot cards frequently get moon baths. I do it because I like having an excuse to go outside and play in the moonlight. If there is a thunderstorm about I will open a window and set my cards near it--not too close--so that they can soak up all that awesome pre-storm air. I frequently pass my cards/runes/divination tools through incense smoke as I recite the following, "Through the use of (insert name of divination tool here) I shall do no harm. Under the influence of the full moon (or whatever phase the moon happens to be in at the time) I re-commit myself to serving a higher purpose. Through the use of __________ I seek to help others find their own truths. I release myself of any negativity, I release myself of illusions. I am cleansed. I am perfect. I am a clear channel of wisdom, love, and understanding. I am a part of All That Is. I am one with Everything." Is any of this ritual necessary? No. Not at all.

The thing is, it's not my cards that need this "spell." It's my mind that needs the reminder of why I read cards or cast runes or walk around with divining rods in my hands.

It's important, of course, to honor your personal beliefs and work that into your own personal rituals. I don't mean to discount what you believe in. I'm just suggesting that you don't box yourself in by creating too many new rules for yourself.

If I've been reading with a deck for a long while or if I do a reading that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, I put all my cards in order by playing solitaire with them. If you cheat, it goes very quickly. This is a way to cleanse cards.... not cheating at solitaire but putting them all in order. I don't think it really cleanses the cards, although it could, but I think it does clear the mind. Playing solitaire with them is hardly a requirement for putting them in order. I just wanted to have more fun with my cards.

I once got a little too enthusiastic about my tarot ritual. I decided my cards needed to be annointed with my favorite oils. I thought I was being so smart to rub the oil into my hand and then, basically, just touch the cards a bit to pass the most minute amount of oil onto them. Well, I can tell you, this was really stupid of me. My cards stuck together and later I had to rip them apart in places. I still use that deck, but it's forever marked by my brilliant idea. Now I just keep a sachet of cloves in my tarot box (where all my tarot decks are stored) that I occasionally drip a few drops of oil onto. All my tarot bags smell so nice.

I honestly don't believe that a tarot deck needs the protection of a tarot cloth or bag. Not on a spiritual/cosmic level. But it keeps them together, protects them from light and dust, and it's very attractive. For this reason, all my tarot decks are in bags or bandanas. I found that I could buy bandanas in enough different colors that my decks are now color coded and I don't have to unwrap every deck to find the one I want. A dear, sweet, wonderful but sadly departed friend made me several tarot bags, each of a different fabric, that now provide excellent protection as well as easy identification for six of my tarot decks. I will treasure these bags forever. When I first started collecting decks I'd read that decks should be wrapped in black cloth for protection. Well..... this makes them nearly impossible to differentiate from each other. So I changed the rule.

Use a rule because it works for you, not because someone told you that you should do it. Use a rule so long as it serves you and when/if it ceases to serve you, change the rule! Make a ritual of it if you need to. Ritual can be so fun!

A final note on cleansing your decks of whatever it is you feel they need to be cleansed of or to protect them from whatever you feel they may need protection from: Whatever higher power you pray to, worship, or connect with... do you think it forgets you after a while? If you ask for protection from _______ for yourself or your tools, that same amount of protection will always be with you and your tools for as long as you desire it because Goddess/God/Source/The Universe doesn't take coffee breaks and s/he doesn't forget. I encourage you to have faith.

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