Opening a New Tarot Deck Is a Special Occasion
This month the Denver Tarot Meetup hosted their first “New Year Party and Meet the Artists” event. We featured a panel of five deck creators and authors, moderated by Jason Gruhl, author of The Fountain Tarot. It was a fun and interesting way to learn what’s brand new in tarot decks, revisit old familiar favorites, salivate for what’s coming down the pike, be inspired by the tarot creation process, and generally celebrate the new year. To promote this theme, I put together a set of handouts with suggestions as to how to get to know a brand-new tarot deck. I also asked the Denver Tarot Meetup Leadership Team what their routine was when opening a new tarot deck.
Getting a new deck is more than trying to pierce through those multiple layers of tightly wrapped plastic! Each deck deserves its own grand opening. I hope these suggestions turn your next deck premier into a red carpet occasion.
Need a New Tarot or Oracle Deck?
We featured Emi Brady of The Brady Tarot and Chaz Kemp and Carolyn Kay of the Ashelon Oracle, two decks that were released in 2018. We filled out the panel with deck creators who have been involved with and supportive of the Denver Tarot Meetup over the years. If you’re looking for a new tarot deck or oracle deck, I highly recommend all of these!
- Emi Brady, artist of The Brady Tarot
- Chaz Kemp and Carolyn Kay, artist and author of Ashelon Oracle
- Jason Gruhl, author of The Fountain Tarot
- Katherine Skaggs, artist of Mythical Goddess Tarot
- Melanie Marquis, author of Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot
- Gail Austin, artist of Creativity and Love Oracle Deck (to be released 2019)
- Richard Hartnett (in absentia), author of Evolutionary Tarot
Did I mention that this is just a small percentage of all the tarot decks produced by Colorado creators? Oh, I did say these are all Colorado authors and artists, didn’t I?
Denver Tarot Meetup Leadership Team on Opening a New Tarot Deck
Everyone has their own customs when opening a new tarot deck. For instance, I never thought of counting the cards in a new deck until a friend mentioned that she had received decks that were missing cards! So her new deck opening practice includes counting the cards, and now I make that my habit as well (and phew, I’ve never come up short). So peruse the following suggestions and maybe they’ll offer tips that you can incorporate into your tarot deck opening ritual.
1. I Get a Feel for the Deck’s Personality, Symbolic Dialect and Modes of Behavior — John
“I usually ease into a deck. After unboxing it, I spend a fair amount of contemplative time with the cards before attempting a divination. This gives me a better feel for the deck’s personality, symbolic dialect and modes of behavior, so I can work with it more effectively. I use a clearing method with all my decks pre- or post-reading, in which I put the deck ‘in order’: Majors first, then the four suits (Wands/ Cups/ Swords/ Pentacles, Ace through 10 and then the Court Cards, Page up to King). To paraphrase Lon Milo DuQuette, it arranges the deck into an ordered universe prior to being shuffled into a disordered one.” –John Michael Allen, Tarot Social Central, Tarot Geeks Social
2. I Love All of My Decks! For Me the Tarot Is Truly Magical! — Linda
“I like to clean a space and wash my hands. Light a candle, sometimes have music, be undisturbed and carefully open the new deck. I look at each card closely and check that everyone is there. Then I like to shuffle and see who shows up! Even as an amateur collector, I respect every deck I have and I can sincerely say that I Love all of my decks! For me the Tarot is truly magical!” –Linda Bean, Tarot Social South
3. I Hope to See Interesting, Insightful Perspectives — Joy
“When I am opening a new tarot deck, I am curious to see what order the suits are in, which gives me insight into the traditions that might have influenced the underlying structure of the deck. I look through the cards noting my first reaction. I hope to see interesting, insightful perspectives that work within an identifiable tarot lineage, or that feel creative and fresh. I note cards that are predictable or limit the card meaning to too narrow an interpretation. I hope with each deck that I don’t find a card that I don’t like! After this assessment, I decide how I will use the deck: for teaching, for illustrating blog posts, for public readings, for creative writing prompts, or as a personal deck. I try to use all my decks one way or another!” –Joy Vernon, Tarot Geeks Social
4. Get an Idea of the Language Your New Deck Uses — Sherry
“With a new deck, or any deck, I sometimes like to pull cards while watching a reality tv show. You can pull cards on the situation or the specific people to see what may be happening next or what a specific character may do. I shuffle while watching the show and when a moment comes up that you go “oh no, I hope _____ doesn’t do that….” throw a card or two down to see what energies may be coming up next. These are one or two cards for a situation, nothing in-depth. This will give you an idea of the language your new deck uses. Is it bare bones, straight forward, maybe a bit snarky or sarcastic, maybe it’s more clear when you do this for a relationship show vs. a survival show. This is just a fun way to practice on a situation or person that you don’t know.” – Sherry Padilla, Tarot Social North
5. I See the Individual Cards and Learn the Deck’s Voice — Jen
“When I am opening a new tarot deck, I usually shuffle a up to 5 minutes initially. I get the feel of the cards in my hands, how the cards bend and move. Do they want to flee or are they content. Then, I take my time dealing cards upside 5 at a time until I am through with the deck. I see the individual cards and learn its voice.” — Jennifer McKissack, Tarot Social East
After Opening a New Tarot Deck, What’s Next?
Getting to know your new tarot deck doesn’t stop with looking through the images. Some readers immediately choose a special bag, box, or wrap to store their deck. Many want to jump right in and work with the cards to learn what’s unique about that deck. From the casual to the formal, here are some ideas to help you get intimate with your new best deck!
1. Tarot Social South Snippet on Opening a New Tarot Deck Compiled by Linda Bean
For the December meeting of Tarot Social South, Linda Bean put together a “snippet” with the thoughts and ideas of a variety of tarot authors on opening a new tarot deck.
2. New Deck Interview
This New Deck Interview Spread was developed especially for our event by pulling one card from each of the decks represented on the panel. I then used those cards to brainstorm questions that would be helpful to ask a new deck to get to know it better. Use these six positions as a spread to interview your new deck.
3. Reading and Ceremony for Charging a Tarot Deck
I first presented this Reading and Ceremony for Charging a Tarot Deck to the Denver Tarot Meetup on Thursday, November 30, 2006. This ritual plus an accompanying article were subsequently published by The Llewellyn Journal on March 5, 2007. It’s an oldie but a goodie! I love it because the ritual itself is based on a reading you perform with the deck, making the process extremely personalized to you and your new deck.
How About You?
I’d love to know your special habits when opening a new deck! Please share with us in the comments.
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.