Magickal Tool Care Series: Tarot Cards

Bright Blessings, Witches and Witchlets! In this installment of our Magickal Tool Care Series we’re discussing Tarot cards. What they are, how to choose a deck and care for it and more! Let us begin.


tarot (n.)

1590s, from French tarot (16c.), from Old Italian tarocchi (singular tarocco), a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Arabic taraha “he rejected, put aside.” Originally an everyday game deck in much of Europe (though not in Britain), their occult and fortune-telling use seems to date from late 18c. and became popular in England 20c. Tarot games seem to have originated among aristocrats in northern Italy in early 15c. By early 16c. tarocchi had emerged in Italian as the name of the special cards, and by extension the whole pack; whence the French word, German Tarock, etc. The tarots are thus, strictly speaking, the 22 figured cards added to the 56-card suits pack.



The tarot (/ˈtæroʊ/, first known as trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards, used from at least the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play games such as Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian Königrufen, many of which are still played today. In the late 18th century, some tarot decks began to be used for divination via tarot card reading and cartomancy leading to custom decks developed for such occult purposes.



tarot cards

As stated above, the Tarot is used to play games, but also used for divination. The latter can be seen across all social media platforms with readers offering free card pulls to paid full-blown spreads.


tarot cards

There are quite a few different variations on the original decks made centuries ago, however the themes have remained somewhat constant. Card sizes vary from deck to deck, as does the artwork.

The modern day standard card size is between 2-1/4″ to 3″ wide by 4-1/2″ to 5″ tall. You can also find novelty decks in mini and giant sizes.


There is a superstition surrounding Tarot decks about whether or not your first deck has to be a gift from someone else. The following is a note on this superstition.


tarot cards

From our post Tarot Cards: Expectation vs Reality:

This myth seems rooted in myth and no one knows where it comes from. Whomever came up with this adage is lost to history. But with time, it seems this “rule” has been dismissed by the modern Tarot community. This isn’t to say that there aren’t some who still believe and follow this directive. However, it’s nowhere near a steadfast requirement for someone else to buy you your first set of cards.

Coming from someone who had their first deck bought for them, I didn’t seriously start reading the cards for years after – and it was using cards that I bought for myself. The gift deck in question was a mixed media deck featuring angels. I did not find it to be beautiful aesthetically. It didn’t speak to me. I did not feel compelled to pick up the cards. I felt no exchange of energy or vibration. In fact, they made me feel nothing at all. And this came after multiple cleansing, charging, and bonding attempts.

Something to consider about receiving a Tarot deck from someone else is their intentions. Did they buy the deck because they see something in you that can be unlocked through the Tarot? Maybe they see themselves in you and the same thing was discovered through reading the cards. Perhaps it’s just a kind gesture.

Regardless of the reasons behind it, they most likely chose a deck based on their personal taste, impression of you as a practitioner, thoughts about what you need to learn, etc. And while their heart may be in the right place, do you really wish to start your Tarot journey on a path forged by somebody else?


tarot cards

Now that you know that it’s perfectly fine (and even encouraged) to buy your first deck, here are some tips to do so:

Shop in person when at all possible – When you’re physically able to see and handle cards in person (most bookstores and metaphysical shops will allow you to open boxes if you ask first) it allows you get a feel for the card coating and ease of handling. This is important for Witches like myself who have incredibly small hands. So much so that I have issues with handling the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck and anything larger. Over the years I have been able to find a few smaller decks that I can use comfortably. I do use larger decks from time to time, but card size is definitely something I take into account when Tarot shopping.


If you can’t shop in person, be strategic about where you buy from – Especially in the times we live in, it can be difficult to go out to a brick and mortar location. If you’re shopping behind a screen, look for listings that have lots of photos and reviews. Bonus points for videos!


I have roughly 10 different decks that I consult. Some are what I call ‘pretty decks’ which feature stunning artwork that I love looking at, but I don’t use that often. Others are what I call ‘working decks’ which result in more accurate readings that I’ve naturally bonded to. My working decks are used for client readings while my pretty decks I only use for personal spreads.

Having both kinds of decks for your own practice is perfectly fine. In fact, I still shop by aesthetic from time to time. Here’s where judging a book by its cover is perfectly acceptable. If you don’t like the look of the imagery on the box, you probably will be just as turned off by the cards themselves. But decks can surprise you. Sometimes I’ve purchased Tarot cards based on their appearance and they’ve become some of my best working decks. On the other hand, some decks are on display more than they’re shuffled.


tarot cards

There are Tarot decks and then there’s Oracle decks and furthermore Angel decks. What’s the difference?

Tarot is made up of 78 cards and meant to guide one based off their past, present, and/or future which allows them to understand themselves better. Some say that reading the Tarot is a trek into the soul and, by extension, one’s life purpose. And unlike the media’s portrayal of the Tarot, it’s typically utilized more for spiritual growth than fortune telling.

Oracle cards are meant to be pulled as either a single daily message, cast in a small spread, or used as clarification for a Tarot card reading. How many cards are in a deck varies anywhere from 12 and up, with most ranging between 30 and 44. Lenormand decks were the first kind of oracle cards, but modern day decks deviate from this tradition.

Angel cards are interesting because they can be like oracle cards or Tarot cards in terms of format. When like the Tarot, they have the original meaning of a Tarot card plus an additional message. Angel cards are meant to offer gentle words of guidance from entities not only from the angelic dominion, but also from goddesses, fairies, Ascended Masters, and any other assembly of spiritually evolved creatures.


tarot cards

You have your deck – now what? The care of our magickal tools is important, not only on a physical level to make sure they stay in good working order, but on a spiritual level, too. Tarot cards are no different. This leads to clearer readings and keeping extraneous magickal residue in check.

Energetically cleansing our cards can be done in quite a few different ways. Choose from the following list to cleanse yours, always knowing that if it doesn’t vibe with you you can always pick another method.


Simple in execution, all you need to do is ring a bell over all sides of your deck.


Grab a bowl big enough to house your deck, fill it with salt, and submerge your cards – preferably out of its box – for at least 24 hours.


Another easy way to cleanse your Tarot cards is to leave them out on a windowsill that gets hit by the moon overnight.


On the opposite of Moon cleansing is Sunlight. Do the same thing for Sunlight as is done for a Moonlight cleanse.


Hold your cards in your hand and visualize a bright white light penetrating and surrounding the deck. This light will cleanse any magickal residue leaving your cards cleared.


Choose either a selenite or clear quartz crystal large enough to rest your deck on or pick a smaller piece to place on top of your cards. Allow the cleanse at least 24 hours to clear your deck.


Choose an incense for its cleansing properties – like Juniper, Lavender or Mugwort – and light it. When there is a nice flow of smoke, pass your deck through it, multiple times until your intuition tells you that the cards are cleared.


When you need your cards cleared and cleansed quickly, hold your deck in your non-dominant hand and knock three times using your dominant.


Use your breath to blow your cards clean of any lingering energies. Blow as many times are you are called to until your deck feels cleansed.


This one is a natural go-to as we all should be thoroughly shuffling our decks before a reading anyhow. However, setting the intention that shuffling to cleanse versus shuffling for a reading is an important differentiation.


tarot cards

Once your cards have been cleaned and cleansed, it’s ready to be charged. Charging is when a practitioner fills an object with a specific kind of energy. Also known as enchanting or programming, you can charge both objects and spaces with your chosen intention. In this case, it’s like filling your Tarot deck with purpose.

Just as there are different ways to cleanse, there are different ways to charge. How you charge your cards is up to you. You can use techniques like vocal charging or meditation. The most important facet of charging is your intent – you want to concentrate it into your tools. For instance, if you use vocal charging you can tell your deck what its purpose is – “Hallowed deck, I will consult you for answers about _“. Pay attention to your intuition as it will let you know when charging is finished.


Over time, objects that we imbue with specific intentions eventually lose energy. But how do you know WHEN to charge after the initial act?

  • Any time you cleanse an object or tool it needs to be charged
  • When energies feel “off”
  • When you wish to reprogram an object or space with a different energy/intent/purpose
  • When a tool begins to feel stagnant or stale or stops responding to your energy


In my opinion, the best way to store your deck is to choose a bag made of velvet or silk that you will always store the cards in. I really only store my working decks in sacred bags with my pretty decks set on display in their boxes. I also place my working decks under my pillow or close to me when I sleep so that our bond remains strong.

As always, do what feels right for YOU in YOUR practice!


As always, I hope that this post has taught you a thing or two about the care of Tarot cards. Do you already work with the Tarot? Is there anything you did or do differently with your tool? Let me know in the comments. Bright Blessings and Happy Crafting!

Published by Pie

Pie Ankiewicz is the Resident Witch of Printable Witchcraft and sister-site Candle Cross Coven. She is a seasoned Eclectic Witch whose practice spans over three decades. Residing in Massachusetts, Pie designs printable Book of Shadows and grimoire pages, blogs about the Craft, and teaches others how to pursue being a practitioner.

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