How to Break In Your New Tarot Cards

May 6, 2020

How to Cleanse Tarot Cards and Break Them In | The Tarot Professor

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How do you cleanse tarot cards? You finally got a new tarot deck! But now what? You may have heard of the need to cleanse a new tarot deck. If you’re trying to figure out how exactly to do that, this post is for you!

In this post, find out why you should cleanse tarot cards and how to break in a tarot deck so that it is ready  to be your personal intuitive tool.

I recently bought a new tarot deck. This means I recently had to cleanse a new tarot deck.

Why? Before I could trust it to be in tune with my intuition and reveal my innermost feelings and thoughts accurately, I had to break it in. In other words, I had to cleanse the tarot deck’s energy and get to know it a little bit before comfortably using it as an intuitive tool.

Here is the three-step process I use to break in a new tarot deck.

(If you don’t have a tarot deck yet and need help selecting or purchasing your first one, click here for some tips.)

How to Break In and Cleanse Tarot Cards | Happy As Annie - How to cleanse tarot cards with sage or incense. Cleanse a tarot deck with sage or incense to cleanse the cards of negative energy. If you don't like to use sage, you can cleanse tarot cards without sage easily: use incense, crystals, a bell or sound bath, full moon light, or just shuffle. (Sage bundle, tarot cards, and amethyst on wooden table)

Step 1: Cleanse your new tarot deck.

What does it mean to cleanse your new tarot deck? And why do you need to cleanse tarot cards anyway?

You want to make sure it doesn’t have any lingering, residual energies from the manufacturer,  bookstore, Amazon seller, or previous owner. Residual energy might distort your readings.

Like I said in a previous post, your tarot deck is an extension of yourself. It isn’t an external source telling you what to do; it’s a medium through which you guide yourself to your highest good. So, you need to make sure that the signals between you and your cards are static-free.

There are various tools you can use to cleanse the negative energy of your tarot cards. Below are four ways to cleanse tarot cards that I use. Select one or mix and match as you please.

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Smoke-cleanse your tarot deck with sage.

Among its other benefits, burning dried sage, is believed to dispel stale, negative, or toxic energies lingering in the air. Cleansing a tarot deck, or any object really, with sage can similarly clear its energies.

To do this, all you do is burn a sage bundle, or wand, and move the tarot deck through its smoke. The fragrant smoke rising from the sage will purify your cards.  Please don’t burn your tarot cards or rub the ashes on your cards or anything like that!

(Unfamiliar with sage? Click here to read more about how to burn sage for cleansing purposes.)

Some people don’t like to use sage for various reasons. That is totally fine. You can also cleanse tarot cards with palo santo instead.  Rather than clearing negative energy, palo santo works more to infuse new, positive energy into objects and spaces.


How to Break In and Cleanse Tarot Cards | Happy As Annie - How to Cleanse Tarot Cards with Crystals | There are so many ways to cleanse tarot decks. You can cleanse or bless a new tarot card with selenite or smoky quartz. (sage bundle, crystals, and other magical objects on wooden table)

Place a smoky quartz over your tarot deck.

You can use a few different crystals for cleansing tarot cards. I like to use smoky quartz. Another great choice for cleansing tarot cards with crystals is selenite or quartz.

Smoky quartz is a powerful healing crystal used for its cleansing, detoxification, and protective powers. It is believed to absorb negative and toxic energies in a room or from an object. You can remember this because of the smoky, dark color of smoky quartz. Think of it as a spiritual vacuum, sucking in all the dark energy around you so that it doesn’t mess with your aura or energy. That’s why it’s such a great tool to cleanse a tarot deck of negativity.

Smoky quartz is a great tool to use to cleanse tarot cards.

To cleanse your tarot deck with a smoky quartz, just place a smoky quartz crystal on top of your deck for as long as you feel is necessary. The smoky quartz will absorb any negative energies out of your deck, freeing it up for your use.

Ring a bell over your tarot deck.

Ringing a bell literally makes the surrounding air vibrate with new energy. As such, it can be used as a cleansing tool to clear stagnant or negative energies.

Here’s how to clear and cleanse your tarot cards with a bell.

To cleanse your tarot deck with sound, hold your tarot deck in your non-dominant hand. Hold a small, handheld bell over the tarot deck with your dominant hand. Gently ring the bell a few times. The idea is that the sound waves will disperse any lingering or clogged energies away from your tarot deck, making it free and clear for your use.

If you don’t have a bell, I bet wind chimes would also do the trick.

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Give your tarot deck a moon bath.

A moon bath doesn’t involve water, so please don’t get your precious tarot cards wet! Cleansing your tarot cards with a moon bath refers to laying underneath the light of a moon, preferably a full moon.

If you can safely leave your tarot cards outside over night during a full moon, that would be ideal. That’s because the moon is most illuminated in the full phase and being outside allows the most direct contact with the moonlight. But you don’t need to wait to cleanse tarot cards under a full moon. If a full moon taro cleanse is inconvenient, try it any time moonlight is visible.

If you are an apartment-dwelling city mouse like me, that may not be feasible though. An alternative is to leave your tarot cards on the clean sill of a window that looks out onto the moon.

The tarot cards will be cleansed of any lingering negative energies and ready to be used the next day.

How to Break In and Cleanse Tarot Cards | Happy As Annie (Four of Pentacles and other cards from Wild Unknown Tarot Deck on wooden table)

Step 2: Bond with your new tarot deck by familiarizing yourself with the cards.

Now that you’ve taken care of the energy surrounding your tarot deck, we can get down to business with the cards themselves!

I don’t know about you, but switching to a new tarot deck is not something I like to do very often. Once I’ve been working with a specific deck for awhile, I finally master the imagery and become really fluent in reading the cards. In fact, I had been working with my original Rider Waite deck for so long that we developed our own language. Certain cards took on a meaning very specific to me (the King of Cups represented my husband for awhile, the Queen of Wands totally represented a certain coworker I couldn’t get away from, etc.).

When you work with a new deck, naturally, you have to start all over! So be patient and put in the time to get to know the cards. Here’s what I do to jump-start this process.

First, shuffle the cards. A lot.

You can actually cleanse tarot cards by shuffling as well. In fact, you need to cleanse tarot cards between readings, and shuffling is the ideal way to do that.

But shuffling a new deck of tarot cards also helps you familiarize yourself with the cards in two ways.

First, it helps you get used to the feel, weight, and size of the cards in your hands. Shuffling can be tricky and awkward if the cards are too slick or not slick enough. Some cards are larger than others, and if you have small hands, you’ll need to practice. Other cards are designed to be more portable, which means they might be too small for comfort at first. Practice makes perfect.

(If you have no idea how to shuffle your tarot cards, click here for three different methods to try.)

The second reason I shuffle my new deck of tarot cards extensively is because I then make myself put the cards back again in the right order!

How to Break In and Cleanse Tarot Cards | Happy As Annie (The Moon and rest of Rider Waite tarot deck fanned across wooden table along with potted plant and crystals)

Then, put the cards back in order.

Nothing forces you to look at each and every card like having to put them back in order after shuffling them a thousand times! And you especially need face time with each and every card in a new deck because the imagery in decks can be quite different from what you’re used to. You don’t want an unfamiliar card to catch you off guard or stump you in the middle of a juicy reading because you draw a card you’ve never really noticed before.

What’s the “right” order for tarot cards anyway? I learned the following order for the Rider-Waite and derivative decks somewhere now forgotten. Here it is for what it’s worth:

  • Major Arcana (from The Fool to The World)
  • Wands Suit (from Ace to Ten, followed by the Page, Knight, Queen, and King)
  • Cups Suit (in the same order as the Wands)
  • Swords Suit (in the same order)
  • Pentacles Suit (in the same order)

If you have a different way of ordering the four suits (which together make up the Minor Arcana), have at it. But start with the Major Arcana first.

Putting the cards back in order gets you looking, examining, touching, and counting your cards. You’ll notice cards you like, cards that frighten you, cards that remind you of things or people. You’ll get a feel for the overall theme and flare of the deck’s artistry, use of color, and symbolism this way too. And, going through the cards in order shows you the overarching life narrative depicted in the cards, from birth to death and beyond.

Don’t forget to shuffle the deck again when you’re ready to do your first reading! And when it comes to a brand new tarot deck, for me, the first reading is a deck interview.

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Step 3: Interview your new tarot deck.

Search the phrase “interview tarot deck” on Pinterest. You’ll find various tarot spreads to try. Or, use the simple three-card spread I created for interviewing a new tarot deck. Here it is below.

How to Bond with a New Tarot Deck? Here's a simple three-card tarot spread I created for interviewing a new tarot deck. How to Break In a New Tarot Deck | Happy As Annie

Pull one card for each of the below questions.

  1. What is the energy or intention of this deck?
  2. What can this deck show me or teach me about myself?
  3. How might my life change after working with this deck?

Which tarot deck did you get most recently? How did you break it in? Or, are you currently having trouble with a new deck? Let me know in the comments below!







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  • Reply Emily August 30, 2021 at 3:41 pm

    I just got my first deck from Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, it is the Rider-Waite deck. Cleansed in with lots of shuffling, quartz and the moon. I for some reason have never been able to do casino shuffle so I have been absentmindedly overhand shuffling. It goes where I go and if I have to put in away it gets put in a tin. Never far away. They’re still stiff and I dunno crisp? Not sure if the two readings I have done are accurate. The one I did for my for my fiance even though I shuffled and cut the deck three times I pulled 7, 8, 9 of swords in a row.

    • Reply HappyAsAnnie September 1, 2021 at 9:11 am

      Hi Emily! Yay for you your new deck and “absentmindedly overhand shuffling” – one of my fave pastimes at this point. 🙂 Interesting that you got three cards in a row like that! When cards come out like that, it can indicate a significant growth or evolution happening – some important sequence of events that take you from point A to B in life. Let me know if that helps or resonates at all with the reading you did for your fiance, and thanks so much for being here!

  • Reply Liz Anderson February 4, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    #1. Tower card. My deck has great power and will bring about change.
    #2. 5 Wands. My deck will show me about and teach me to work through conflict (and to face it as I HATE confrontation).
    #3. The Empress. After working with this deck, I will be more in touch with my feminine side, and nature, and see great growth spiritually.

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