Welcome to the Tarot Blog Hop!
Our theme for this hop was provided by Joanne of Cosmic Whispers Tarot, who gave us the lovely, warm, fuzzy fun of writing about keeping in the heat with tarot. I was taking a break from knitting when I read the topic, so I immediately thought of snug tarot bags and other handmade tarot cozies. I’m not talking about how to store your collection, such as shelves, drawers, storage bins, etc. Rather, this is a deck by deck consideration. How do you tuck in your tarot cards at the end of the day? Here’s my advice on how to store your tarot deck, including tarot bags, wraps, boxes, and more. I also share some ideas for handmade tarot storage, including some patterns at the end!
Why Cozy up my Tarot Deck?
Choosing how to store your tarot deck depends on the why. Keeping your tarot cozy is important for several reasons. You need a way to keep your cards together. Your unique storage technique lets you identify your copy from the dozen yellow box Rider-Waites or handful of Gilded Tarots at the Meetup. It keeps prying eyes out. The type of storage you choose can fortify your deck against damage. Tarot holders can be good-looking too. And some storage containers might even affect your psychic abilities!
78-Card Pick Up
There has to be a way to keep your cards together. You would think this goes without saying, and admittedly most decks come in their own deck-sized box. However, many kits, which by definition include a full-size guidebook, offer too much packaging, and most readers don’t want to carry the guidebook around with them. In the past, those kits always included a little organza bag to hold the cards. Surprisingly, as delicate as those bags are, I still have some that have been in regular use for years and, for the most part, they can withstand gentle, ongoing use. But kits don’t seem to come with those bags anymore. If they offer anything, and too many don’t, they only have a too-big, flimsy, white tuck box that I have never seen anyone use. There’s got to be a better way.
How do decks at used bookstores come? Very often with a rubber band around them or in a plastic baggie. This will keep the cards together! If the manufacturer hasn’t provided an appropriately sized box, then we will resort to anything on hand. Once in a while, if I’ve been reallocating tarot bags, I’ll find a lonesome, loose deck in the back of my tarot drawer, like a shivering stray. Every deck needs a home. Every deck needs its own little bed to curl up in.
Keeping your deck in a baggie might be functional, but not fashionable. Tarot storage can show off the colors or imagery of the deck, feel good to the touch, and express our style. From utilitarian to elegant, our deck storage can reflect our personality with panache.
I have seen well-loved decks nestled in black camera cases, displayed in fine art bags and boxes, or gathered in colorful cotton pouches with crystals, reading cloths, and other necessities. You can organize your decks in bible covers or zippered book jackets with a guidebook in one pocket, two or three decks in another, and a pad and pen for tarot journaling. Slim fitting cases show off your practicality when you toss it in your purse, messenger bag, or glove compartment. Handmade bags and decoupage boxes imbue our cards with our creativity. From stunning to sensible, we want our deck to look a certain way.
Often when I’m teaching a beginning tarot class or introductory talk, I’ll put out fifteen or twenty decks for people to look through. Most of my decks are in bags, but some aren’t. I noticed over the years that people were much more likely to flip through a deck not in a bag. Eventually, I realized it was best if I took all the decks out of their bags to encourage browsing. Why were people hesitant to peek in the bags? Maybe they thought it would be a deck they wouldn’t like. Maybe the drawstring intimidated them. I have no idea unless it was because they felt like they were snooping. Keeping a deck under wraps helps to mark it as private.
Tarot decks, especially those of professional readers, can get hard use and will wear out over time. Keeping a deck loose or rubber-band bound offers no additional protection. If you need to travel to events, Meetups, or classes, you don’t want a jostling jalopy jaunt to increase the wear and tear on your deck. When not in use, a cover of some kind helps fend off the scuffs.
The worst damage I’ve seen inflicted on a deck in my possession was when on a day hike a number of years ago. We got caught in a sudden and intense downpour. I had my deck in a heavy cotton velvet bag inside a nylon backpack. But it rained so hard that backpack, bag, and deck were soaked through (to say nothing of myself and my hiking buddy). Common forms of tarot storage don’t protect against the elements. And some decks need to be protected from pests, pets, and kids. Your tarot storage can address issues unique to your tarot needs.
In addition to physical protection, magical tools such as tarot decks benefit from psychic protection. If you’re not sensitive to psychic energy, this might not be a consideration for you at all, just like not everyone needs to be able to keep decks out of the reach of cute klutzes like kids or cats. But if you are sensitive, or if you’re not, but are noticing unexplained feelings of being on the outs with your deck, please consider the following information.
Have you ever heard that you should wrap your deck in silk? That’s an example of working with the psychic properties of deck storage. Different materials affect psychic energy in different ways. Materials like silk increase the flow of energy. On the other hand, wool and leather dampen the flow of psychic energy. Metals usually increase the flow of energy, although this depends on the metal. Wood and stone are generally considered to neutralize psychic energy, but again different kinds of wood or stone will produce different results. So the type of material you choose to store your deck in will affect its energy.
You can choose whether you’d like to use a storage material that maintains a high psychic charge or is protective instead. Heightening the psychic energy of the deck might be the way to go if you’re the only one who touches your deck. Storage materials for this purpose would include silk, linen, and hemp fabrics; fruitwood boxes; or gold, silver, or copper lined boxes (admittedly unusual). Increasing the deck’s energy can boost your own intuitive or psychic connection with the cards if that is important to you.
On the other hand, perhaps you prefer to protect against outside influences, in which case you’d choose wool, leather, or an oak box. You can also choose neutral materials such as cotton, a steel box (typical “tin” sold for decks), or your average wooden box. These materials can be layered to combine qualities, such as wrapping your deck in a silk cloth and then putting it in a wool pouch.
Some people choose not to use animal products such as silk, wool, or leather with their decks. Conversely, some people prefer not to use synthetic fibers, especially those derived from petroleum, which include nylon, polyester, and acrylic — the types of fabrics that most commercially available tarot bags are made of, including the majority of satin and velvet bags. (Satin and velvet are types of weave, not varieties of fiber.) But that still leaves plenty of renewable plant and mineral sources for deck storage! My go-to choice? If I’m buying a bag and not making it, I always buy the inexpensive, colorful, cotton drawstring bags.
For more information on the psychic properties of fabrics, please consult pp. 7-8 of the tarot handbook that I wrote for my beginning tarot classes.
How Do I Cozy up my Tarot Deck?
Now that we know why you should cozy up your cards, let’s look in more detail at the storage methods available. There are three types of basic tarot storage: bags, boxes, and wraps. Read on for how to use each of these as well as their pros and cons.
Most tarot decks come in a box, and the majority of those are tuck boxes, with the little flap that tucks into the box. A tuck box is a serviceable way to store a deck, but those boxes will wear out long before the deck does. In the past ten years or so I’ve seen increasing use of clamshell boxes with a magnetic closures. A solid, secure box like this usually stands on its own as both attractive and protective. If you’re ready to go beyond the commercial packaging, an attractive wooden, metal, or carved stone box can keep the cards together while offering privacy and protection. Boxes seem like a natural answer to deck storage.
Boxes can provide endless opportunities for personalization. A box with a frame for a photo in the lid offers a place to put a copy of a tarot card, a personal photo, artwork, or an image of a mentor, ancestor, or deity. A colleague buys tins online and decoupages a color copy of a card from the deck onto the lid to identify what deck it holds. Boxes also offer many creative outlets. Craft and woodworking stores sell plain wooden boxes that you can paint or decorate. In my “Tarot Fool” box, I decoupaged symbols from my life that expressed the Fool card to me.
Boxes offer the most protection for a deck, especially if you can find one that latches. There are also lots of options for personalization and creativity. But I don’t end up using boxes for my decks. If the deck comes in a reasonably attractive, sturdy box, I’ll keep it in that. But the two decoupage boxes I created? I don’t use them for decks, even though that was the original intention. Boxes are great for decks that sit at all times on a desk or altar. But I want my decks to be portable, and so I look to other storage methods.
I only have four tarot wraps (one was absent on picture day). The gorgeous hand-knit one in the center was made for me by a colleague. The one on the left is fabric I bought to make a bag from and haven’t gotten around to yet. The one on the right I bought from a friend. It is clever as it has a secret drawstring that can draw it up into a bag. However, the bag is too roomy for the deck, and I wanted something snugger, so I use it as a wrap instead. The wraps on the left and right are pieces of fabric big enough to also use as a reading cloth, as you can see in the photo on the right.
There’s something very snug about a tarot wrap. They wrap the cards up like a present, often tied securely. The more they encase the deck, the more protective they are. A colleague ties his decks up in bandanas or scarves. I like the practicality of wraps that double as a reading cloth. I was wrapping a quartz point I had been given in with the Chrysalis deck, in the wrap on the right, which worked fine, but the crystal seemed to get misplaced when the deck was in use, so I eventually discontinued the practice. If there’s a downside to wraps, that’s the only thing: that they don’t hold extra items well like a bag does. They feel the most tucked in, swaddled and secure. But they’re still not my favorite way to store a deck.
I love tarot bags. They are portable, protective, easy to use, and attractive. I made all the bags in the photo. You can put loose cards in them, or put the cards in the tuck box and the tuck box in the bag. They usually have enough room to hold extra items, like stones, reading cloth, or even a second deck (some of mine have a Lenormand deck with them). And the extra items stay in the bag and don’t get lost. Tarot bags can be made of heavy wool or leather for more protection, gauzy organza for frilly glamour, or anything in between.
When choosing a bag or bag design to make, consider how snug it will fit the deck. Too large a bag will let the cards slide around, maybe even get bent. A fitted, snug bag might not have any room for extras (but maybe you don’t need any extras). A proper sized pouch will hold the deck compactly with just enough room left over for whatever else you want to include.
Alternative Tarot Cases
Innovative tarot readers often stumble upon just the right sized product to hold their deck. The storage container doesn’t have to be made for tarot. Repurposing other items expresses your ingenuity. I’ve see people use cosmetic pouches, camera cases, zippered covers for bibles or three-ring notebooks, small shoulder bags, large coin purses, cigar boxes — the possibilities are endless!
Tarot Cozy and Creative
How will you cozy up your next deck? Here are some homemade ideas!
Wool Felt Bags with Handsewn Seams. Felt is a type of fabric that doesn’t fray, so you don’t need any fancy sewing techniques to keep the edges from unraveling. We bought squares of wool felt online (I try to avoid the more common acrylic felt, which is a synthetic fiber), and then designed and sewed our own bags during a meetup. Check out Create a Special Bag for Your Special Deck at the Denver Tarot Meetup! You’ll need 1-2 squares of wool felt, embroidery floss, a sharp large-eye needle, scissors, ribbon or cord for drawstrings or ties, and some beads for decoration. You can use a whipstitch, blanket stitch, or ordinary running stitch to sew the pieces together. Easy, fast, great looking, and your original design! See photos from our Meetup to get ideas.
Handknit Tarot Bags. If you’re a knitter, knitting bags is a fun afternoon project. Mary K. Greer has a pattern on her blog, and I also design tarot bag patterns. My Flamekeeper Tarot Bag is my most popular according to Ravelry’s stats on how many people have made it (yes, a whopping fourteen people!). I always publish a new tarot bag design right here on my blog every year on Christmas Day as a gift to my crafty readers. Check back in a few days for that new pattern! (Pictured at right.) In 2016 I designed a Two-Hour Tarot Bag, and we had a Tarot Bag Knit-A-Long with Joy on Election Night for the Denver Tarot Meetup.
Please visit my neighbors, Morgan Drake Eckstein of Gleamings from the Golden Dawn, and Tiffany of The Butterfly Witch to see what’s warm and cozy with them. You can always visit the master list if our circle snarls.
Joy Vernon is widely recognized by tarot professionals as an expert tarot teacher and respected community leader. With over twenty years’ experience teaching energetic and esoteric modalities, Joy brings expertise and practiced familiarity to her specialty of esoteric tarot, which layers astrological and qabalistic symbolism onto the traditional tarot structure. Under her leadership, the Denver Tarot Meetup has grown into one of the largest and most active tarot-specific meetups in the world. Joy works as a tarot reader, astrologer, and teacher at Isis Books. To learn more, please visit JoyVernon.com.