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Playing Without a Full Deck

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on February 4, 2010 | Comments (14)

Have you heard of Blog Talk Radio? I don’t know how long it’s been around but I just discovered it a few months ago, and I have to say that I love it. There are tons of radio shows that you can listen to live or subscribe to via itunes to listen to later (which is what I do). If you listen live, you can participate in a live chat room or call in for a reading (depending on the show). I have several favorite shows, including Beyond Worlds, The Tarot Lady, and Storm Cestavani. One of my favorites was also Tarot Talk, but they are, sadly, no longer broadcasting.

One of the co-hosts of Tarot Talk was Georgianna Beohnke. She was recently on Storm’s show and told a story that just delighted me. Probably one reason that I loved it so much is that I just know that some people will find it shocking. Not so long ago, I would have, too. But I’ve mellowed a lot in the last few years.

Some years ago, Georgianna was sharing quarters with a dog companion. Well, he was really a puppy not a dog. And, like most puppies, he loved to chew. Her things mostly. The situation between them grew more and more stressful and culminated one evening when Georgianna came home to find her Thoth Tarot cards (given to her long ago by her mother) strewn all over the house. She followed the trail of cards, picking them as she went,  amazed that none of the cards were damaged, until she got to the last card. The only damaged card was the 5 of Wands, which is Strife in the Thoth deck.

Georgianna took it as a sign that the strife between her and her dog friend was now over and they have been very close ever since.

Georgianna loved that deck. It has personal meaning and history as well as being a favorite tarot deck. And so, to this day she continues to use it sans the 5 of Wands, which is okay by her, as she doesn’t really care for that card. But she does use all three of the Magician cards that came with it. She isn’t worried about the missing strife at all. She feels that if it is meant to come up then either other cards will work together to create the message or the client will select another deck. When asked what she does when all three Magician’s show up in reading she responded, “Wow! Well, would you look at that!”

I love her attitude.

So, if one card from one of your favorite decks got destroyed, what would you do? If you could choose which card was eliminated from your deck forever, which would it be?

NOTE: I just read a blog by Alison Cross (on the Tarot Association of the British Isles blog) about ideas of what to do with decks that are missing cards (if you decide not to read with them). Check it out.

Reader Comments

Written By Kiki
on February 4th, 2010 @ 10:51 am

Hmmm… Can I do a Top 3?

1. Hierophant
2. Justice
3. Two of Wands

(Love Georgianna’s perspective on the missing card!)

Written By Lunaea Weatherstone
on February 4th, 2010 @ 11:39 am

My very first deck, which I got when I was 16, was borrowed by a friend a couple of years later (back when I would actually lend a deck!), and came back with the Strength card missing. I later found that Strength card ripped in half in her garage. I never used that deck again — it just felt too inauspicious. In the many years since then, I’ve occasionally purchased decks that had missing cards, and couldn’t bring myself to even play with them until the missing card or replacement deck arrived. But I never really considered what I would do if a much-loved deck had a card go missing. I hope I would have the same attitude that you describe above, and that I could take it as a sign — but what if it was a GOOD card, not a card of strife? Would I be so cheery if, say, the Sun card was gone? Hmmmm…. I think I would be more likely to just use that deck for meditation or altar images, not for divination. To answer your other question, I would not choose to eliminate any cards, no matter how awful — how else do we learn our life lessons, if not by playing with the full deck?

Written By Theresa
on February 4th, 2010 @ 12:28 pm

I love Georgianna’s approach to this! Years ago, I had worked at a party. The next day, I was doing readings in my office and I sensed that something was “off”. I later looked at the deck and realized that 10 cards were missing! I realized that I left an entire Celtic Cross layout at that party! I never did get those cards back and that deck was useless to me. So, I cannot read without all the cards present. I wish I were more flexible!

If I had to get rid of one card, I’d probably get rid of the 5 of Swords. I hate that card! LOL


Written By Ty
on February 4th, 2010 @ 1:36 pm

When I first started reading tarot some 7 years ago, it would have been the Chariot. Now, it would be the 5 of Pentacles or the Heirophant.

Written By Barbara Moore
on February 4th, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

Why does everyone hate the Hierophant?!?!?!

Written By Helen
on February 4th, 2010 @ 2:50 pm

You know Babs I’ve never consciously thought about this, it was an interesting read. I’ve never used a deck on purpose without a card, but I have read on a few occasions without a full deck, by leaving a card behind unnoticed in its box, only to find it after the reading was done. I’ve always figured in those odd cases that the deck didn’t need that one or it wouldn’t have left it behind! 😀

Written By Mothgirl
on February 4th, 2010 @ 7:33 pm

I am an artist when and if a deck becomes useless the left over cards become artwork!They make great additions to mixed media collage etc.

Written By Joyce
on February 4th, 2010 @ 8:08 pm

Heck, when a card is missing, I just call Llewellyn and tell them one is missing from a deck and they promptly sent me one. It happened a month ago. Bought a deck and a card was missing; called them and they sent me the one I was missing; no questions asked. my least favorite card is the 4 of Coins/Pentacles — how dare it suggest I’m stingy. The 7 of Coins is the next closest.

Written By Ty
on February 5th, 2010 @ 8:48 am

I once had a card missing from a Lo Sacarbeo deck- i emailed them and I got the card from Italy to the USA in about 5 days! Now that’s service!

I think I dislike the Heirophant because the the price of a ‘common culture’ often becomes blind acceptance.

Written By Barbara Moore
on February 5th, 2010 @ 8:52 am

I just ran across Alison Cross’s blog entry about things to do with deck that is missing cards: http://tabitarot.blogspot.com/2010/02/tarot-article-incomplete-decks-and-what.html

Written By lada
on February 5th, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

I can’t get a good feel for the Heirophant.
to me, when that card comes up (which, actually, is rarely) it always feels like ‘the Man’…as in the phrase ‘sticking it to the Man’. The entrenched network against which I struggle to dislodge their foot from my neck.

Written By Theresa
on February 5th, 2010 @ 11:20 pm

My very first deck was the Rider Waite, and somehow, The Magician was misplaced. This was my excuse to ditch this deck and get the Universal Waite instead. Yes, it’s the same stuff, but the softer illustration style was much less creepy and jangly to me. I haven’t touched the RW deck in over a decade. The one card that really screwed with me from that deck was Judgement. Ugh, creepy creepy creepy. Hated it. I would have jettisoned it from the deck, but it might have thrown off my groove. 🙂

Written By georgianna boehnke
on February 19th, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

hi Barbara! how sweet to see the story of my dog-pal Stoney and the missing 5 of Wands on your blog! an honour really!

at the time of the event, it never occurred to me to not use the deck, or (unfortunately) to ask the publisher for a duplicate card. but even one card shy, that particular deck has probably been one of my greatest tarot teachers. I’m really glad I kept it!

broken decks need love too!! they’ll love you back 🙂

Written By Charles
on March 6th, 2010 @ 4:28 pm

Well that is what Jokers are for, or in this case, one of the extra magicians would suffice. You write “5 of Wands” on it and use it as a replacement card.
Using 3 Magicians in one deck? That would give really unbalanced readings.

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