So you've got a brand new tarot/oracle deck!! You open the box, anxiously rip off the plastic covering, smell them, hold them to your heart and squeal (...no? .. just me? ;) ) But now what? Maybe you are familiar with the imagery of the deck, or maybe it's structure and symbolism leave you a little confused. In order to work with it, you're going to have to get cozy with your new friend. Here is how I get familiar with my decks!
First, after saging and saying a little blessing prayer over my deck, I look through it slowly. I take notice of the imagery. Do I recognize it as being linked to the Rider Waite system? Are the suits the traditional names? Have any of the Major Arcana names been changed? This is all very casual as I am feasting on the images, colors, and vibe I am getting from the deck.
Next I will go back through the deck and separate it into piles. One pile will be my favorite images, the next will be my least favorite (if any), the third will be neutral, and lastly I will sometimes do a pile of cards that really interest / confuse / evoke strong emotions or thoughts. I will then go through each pile and look slowly at the images, making mental notes or notes in a journal about what I feel the card is speaking to me. With really offbeat decks such as the Wooden Tarot (above) I will spend a lot of time in this process.
How does the image of the snail fit in with what I know about the Chariot? Does it speak to the determination and will power to move forward? Does it indicate that the growth happens in the journey? Does it tell me anything about blending the divine masculine (hard shell) and feminine (soft body)? Or using my antennae (intuition) along the journey?
Once I come to a conclusion about these interesting cards, I will check the book that comes with it (if any) to see how the author/creator intended the card to be received.
Speaking of the book.... next, I will read the intro to the guidebook and check out the spreads included. I like to get a feel for how and why the creator made the deck. I sometimes will read through the whole book, depending on how long it is, or will just read a sampling of different card interpretations.
I also like to do a deck interview. This means I will ask the deck a series of questions about itself, me, and our relationship together and journal about it. I believe I got this idea originally from tarotize.com. :) I generally ask these questions: 1. Describe yourself please. 2. How do you see me? 3. How can we best work together? 4. What is your message to those who will read with you? 5. What will be the outcome of our work together?
After this initial process, there are a few other ways I get to know my new precious -- i mean deck. :P
- The first is by doing daily draws and journaling about them. I write about the image, how I feel, what I think it would say to me, what I think it means, what the book says.
- The second is picking a card right before bed and asking it to guide me in dreams (I know it sounds cray cray but I have had amazing experiences with this!!).
- Third is by meditating with a card or at least keeping it in my desk for a day and pausing to reflect on it occasionally -- then writing down my thoughts during the day or at the end of the day.
- Fourth, I will try to find a Facebook group dedicated to studying the deck and engage there. One amazing experience with this is in the Chrysalis Tarot Study Group. I have learned sooo much about the deck there! It's an awesome community!
In the end, the best way to know your deck is by spending time with it. None of the tips here are new -- I'm sure every tarot reader does all these and more -- but they are what work for me! Hopefully it helps some of you awesome new readers in your journeys with tarot (and oracle decks!) Let me know what you think, and what you do to get to know your new treasures!