Wicca Academy

How to Cleanse a Tarot Deck

A woman shuffling tarot cards at table

July 11, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes

Us Wiccans love our tarot decks — what could be better than using the cards to make sense of our past and present and peer into the foggy future? Once you master the art of tarot reading, you’ll be consulting your deck daily, be it for yourself or for your curious friends and family members.

But constant use may lead to the accumulation of energy residue on your cards, making subsequent readings slightly more difficult and less accurate. If you notice that something’s been feeling off with your deck, try giving it a cleanse. That should set all energies in order and strengthen your bond!

Cleanse Your Deck When…

Assorted Tarot Cards On Table

There are no hard and fast rules on when you should cleanse your tarot deck — most Wiccans do it when it feels right. Whether that means performing a ritual once a day, once a week, or once a month is entirely up to you. Still, the following are specific instances when you and your tarot cards could benefit from a cleanse.

…You Buy a New One

A new deck is still an unknown, and performing a cleanse allows you to familiarize yourself with it and establish that first bond. Not to mention, tarot cards go through many hands before reaching yours. They have to be packaged and transported, and they pick up all kinds of energy as they wait to be bought on the shelf. A good cleanse helps eliminate potential emotional debris and gives both you and your new deck a clean slate.

…You Prepare for a Reading

It’s not a requirement to cleanse your deck before each reading, nor will your accuracy greatly suffer if you don’t. However, if you don’t want any past energies potentially disrupting your current reading, a cleanse is in order. That’s particularly important if the previous readings have been difficult or emotionally draining or if your energy felt different than usual.

…Someone Else Uses It

Unavoidably, some of your friends will express interest in your tarot deck and want to use it themselves, whether they have experience or not. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your cards with your friends — in fact, it can make for a fun bonding time! But be sure to cleanse the deck once the reading session is over. That way, you will remove unfamiliar energies and reestablish the connection with your cards.

…The Connection Doesn’t Feel Right

There are times in every Wiccan’s life when tarot readings just don’t work well. Even if you’re an experienced reader and do everything as you always would, something might feel a little off. In that case, performing a cleanse could strengthen the bond between you and your deck and get rid of any interference.

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6 Ways to Cleanse Your Tarot Deck

Now that you know when your tarot deck might require a cleanse, you’re probably wondering how to effectively perform it. Don’t worry — a tarot deck cleanse is not rocket science and usually only requires a single step and some time. Here are some of the most common methods Wiccans use to refresh their cards and bring accuracy to their readings.

1. Use Crystals

Pink Crystal on a Person's Hand above Tarot Desk

Crystals are known for their ability to cleanse accumulated energies, which makes them many Wiccans’ favorite tools for recharging. But they don’t refresh only people — tarot decks can also benefit from a crystal recharge. Place your deck on top of a crystal or put a small piece on the cards and leave it overnight. Your cards should be completely refreshed in the morning.

When choosing the type of crystal to use, we recommend selenite or clear quartz. Both are known for their cleansing, healing energies, as well as for their ability to enhance and strengthen the connection to the spirit world. However, you can use any other crystal you feel connected to; or any that corresponds with the intention of the reading you plan to perform next.

2. Recharge in the Sunlight

Woman Sitting On Sand With Tarot Cards On Her Skirt

Sitting out in the sun probably makes you feel refreshed and recharged, and sunlight can work similar wonders for your tarot cards. Put your deck outside in the fresh air and let it soak in some sun. After only a few minutes, it should be cleansed and ready for a new reading.

Don’t leave the deck out for too long, though. While sunlight does wonders for the accumulated energies, it can just as easily bleach your cards.

3. Perform a Full Moon Cleanse

Tarot Cards on a Table

The cleansing power of moonlight is very well-known in Wiccan circles, and many of us regularly put our crystals out on the windowsills to recharge during the full moon. Similarly, you can place your cards by the window and let the moon work its magic overnight. Just make sure to perform this cleansing ritual when the sky is clear!

Unsurprisingly, the full moon is often cited as the most potent source of cleansing energy, but it’s certainly not the only one. In fact, you can charge your cards during various phases of the moon depending on your intention. New moon, for instance, brings a blank slate energy to your deck, removing any intentions and expectations.

On the other hand, if you want to perform a relationship reading, place your deck on the windowsill when the moon is in Libra or Taurus. Those two signs are ruled by Venus, which significantly boosts readings related to love.

4. Burn Sacred Smoke

Tarot Cards with Burning Herbal Incense on a Table

Herbal incense or dried wands made of lavender, rosemary, cedar, or sage can make excellent tarot card cleansers. Once you burn them and the smoke starts wafting, hold your deck near and slowly turn it. Make sure the smoke fully engulfs the cards from all sides to cleanse them of all residual energy. Generally, this process doesn’t have to last too long — just a few minutes of exposure to the sacred smoke should be enough.

5. Shuffle the Cards

A Person Holding Tarot Cards

Before every reading, you will shuffle the cards to reestablish connection — a common practice most readers perform without specific instructions. However, to do a proper cleanse, you should take shuffling a step further.

Here is what you should do. Lay down all your cards in order: Major Arcana first, then all Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Once you’ve arranged them on the floor, mix them all up once again. Be as chaotic as possible, just like a child would be! This simple ritual makes for an excellent cleanse, especially when getting to know a new deck.

6. Knock on the Deck

Woman Holding a Deck of Tarot Cards

A quick and easy way to knock out the past energies from your deck before each reading is by literal knocking. Specifically, you should do it three times — once to remove residual energy, once to introduce your energy to the deck, and once to set the intention.

Final Thoughts

Person Holding a Burning Smudge Stick above a Tarot Deck

Cleansing your tarot deck is not a must, but it is good practice. Think of it as some sort of energetic hygiene that keeps your cards fresh and clean, ready to perform their best. Plus, the cleansing rituals are so simple and undemanding that they won’t affect your life in any way. You can even come up with your own practices and do them as often or as rarely as you want. There really are no rules — what matters is that it feels right to you!

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