Confession: I cut up tarot cards
To make art! I have a couple of ‘spare’ tarot decks which I keep so I can a) give querents a special card if a reading is particularly wonderful or b) make tarot art for my friends.
As I was chopping away at the Queen of Swords the other day, it occurred to me that not everyone would be okay with this.
There’s a whole load of myths, a lot of shoulds and shouldn’ts and plenty of superstition around tarot which you are free to take or to leave.
You should be gifted your first tarot deck. What a load of nonsense.
You should keep your cards wrapped in silk. Silk is nice, but so is cotton, cardboard, tin and wood. Or any place where you keep your cards. I promise you they won’t mind.
You should never let anyone else touch your cards. Super-personal choice methinks.
You should cleanse your deck after or before readings. A lovely ritual, but not for everyone. I don’t cleanse mine. Am I bad?
Many tarot superstitions come from the idea that tarot cards are sacred, so must be treated with reverence. So what does ‘sacred’ actually mean?
According to Wikipedia:
Sacred means revered due to association with holiness. Holiness, or sanctity, is in general the state of being holy (perceived by religious individuals as associated with divinity) or sacred (considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers).
Firstly let’s just remove the ‘religious’ bit since a large number of the people reading this do not consider themselves religious. Let’s instead focus on the term ‘spirituality’, agreeing that ‘holiness’ for us means that a sacred thing is associated with spiritual development, feeling closer to our higher selves, the Universe, God or whatever else you might believe exists ‘above’ us.
The Mentor of Keys, from The Collective Tarot
Are tarot cards sacred?
Hmm. Not really! Not out of the box, not mass-produced in a factory, not packed and shipped from an Amazon warehouse, as so many are.
The cards themselves are… just cards.
It’s what you do with them that makes them sacred.
Focusing your energy on yourself or your querent as you shuffle them. Using them to access your intuition. Bringing their messages to others and helping them find direction or comfort or encouragement. Writing about them. Learning about them. Meditating on them.
You make your cards sacred by using them as part of your spiritual practice. And it doesn’t matter if that’s an emotional, drunken reading with a friend at the end of the night or a crystal-meditation-reading-after-yoga on a beach in Bali. It’s the asking, the questing, that makes your tarot cards sacred.
I’ve quoted this before, but I want to share the genius of Dori Midnight – it’s from the introduction to her Dirty Tarot Cards, an oracle deck with cards such as ‘Slutty’, ‘Pie’, ‘Lucky Penny’ and ‘Hairdye’.
I call this deck dirty because it is not in any way ethereal or pure; instead it is a collection of symbols of things that we have, touch, desire, or tend to in our messy lives.
I believe that we can gain insight and request guidance from anything, anytime. Insight is abundant because the stuff of our lives is sacred.
She’s said it. The stuff of our lives. Your tarot cards aren’t sacred until you go to them with your questions.
You make them sacred in the asking.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.