Keeping your cards clean is mostly a matter of common sense. They are made of paper, so if they get sticky or dirty, wipe them with a very slightly damp cloth and then wipe them dry immediately. But when people ask about “cleansing the cards” they are not usually asking about a bit of jam or pizza sauce that dripped on their Ace of Pentacles. What they really want to know about is how to energetically cleanse the cards.
When to Cleanse
As with so many things tarot-related, there are no absolutes. Here are some points when some readers feel the need to cleanse or clear their cards:
1. after a very challenging reading
2. after many readings in a row
3. before using a new deck
4. after the cards have lain dormant for a while
5. after a milestone, life change, or shift in spiritual belief
6. at certain times of the year, such as holidays, birthdays, or full moons
7. before using a second-hand deck
8. when feeling disconnected from the cards (this may be more of a case of the reader grounding his or herself rather than cleansing the cards)
9. if someone has touched your deck without your permission
10. if someone has given you a deck that they or others have used before you
How to Cleanse
As with the timing, there are a variety of ways that readers cleanse or clear their decks. As long as the method makes sense to and has meaning for you, then that method is perfectly valid. A clearing ritual can be as simple or as complicated as you like. I usually do a quick clearing technique (simply going through the deck one card at a time, touching each card, looking at it, making sure it is upright) when I’m working. For holidays or for welcoming a new deck, I usually do a more elaborate clearing and blessing ritual, to clear the cards, to imbue them with energy, and bond with them.
1. store your deck with a rose or clear quartz (or any other crystal that has meaning for you…for example, I like to use a Tiger’s Eye)
2. run your deck through the smoke of burning sage or other incense
3. lightly sprinkle your deck with sea salt dissolved in water (I have never done this, but have sprinkled dry sea salt on my cards in a blessing ritual; I just don’t want to risk putting water on my cards)
4. put all the cards upright and in order (Major Arcanas, 0 – 21; Wands, Ace – King, etc.)
5. shuffle the deck seven times (or whatever number has meaning for you)
6. set on the inside of a windowsill overnight during a full moon (I make sure it is a full moon that is in a sign that resonates energetically for me)
7. light a white candle (or purple, or whatever color represents the energy you want to bring to your cards), sit in front of the candle holding your cards. Pray, meditate, or visualize your cards becoming clear and/or cleansed.