Tarot Rituals: Take Them or Leave Them

January 21st, 2011 § 6 comments

candles burningBefore reading Tarot, many people like to perform some sort of ritual to put them into the spirit or mood of the cards and prepare them for the reading.

I’ve read countless descriptions of what one should do before, during and after a session. But really, I think it’s all rather arbitrary.

Though there’s something to be said for the power of ritual, and showing respect to a process might increase the resonance of a reading, when it comes right down to it, there’s no right or wrong way to do any of the following:

• store your cards
• cleanse your cards
• shuffle your cards
• cut your cards
• present your cards to your client
• sit during a reading
• surround (or not) your space with candles, crystals, incense, talisman or the like

It’s possible that particular rituals feel right, or seem useful. For instance, storing cards in silk and cedar, or shuffling seven times before beginning each reading.

Or maybe you like to face south, or wear red, or burn a blue candle dedicated to Isis and anointed in frankincense. It really doesn’t matter, except that it’s meaningful to you.

If doing these things, or anything else, helps you tune into the cards, the spirits, the client, or yourself, do them. But no one set of rituals is useful to everyone, or is required by the Tarot gods.

crystal quartz

If the message of a particular card is going to get through, it will, regardless of what’s done to set the mood.

And the same holds true in reverse. If you’re not ‘getting’ the cards, no amount of polished crystals or auspicious feng shui positioning is going to help.

As much as I like to set things up a certain way when I can, it’s not always possible. And the truth is, my readings seem to be just as useful when done outside my ritualistic control as within it.

Like reading a book, it might feel best in our favourite chair with a mug of cocoa, but when the story’s good, we’ll be just as absorbed in reading it on the subway as we are at home.

Focusing on the client, intending to help, and learning the cards are the only essentials.  Beyond that, you could be in a ditch or tanning by the pool, the Tarot doesn’t care. It’s always ready to tell its story.

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