18 October 2011

Card Care

Tarot cards aren't magical or special. They are just pieces of cardboard with pretty pictures on them.
The magic happens within the human mind, heart and spirit. The special part lies in our interaction with our environment: how we feel, how we perceive, how we react.

Tarot cards are a tool to help us access the intuition that we all have. It is a strategy for accessing non-linear logic, and symbolic thinking. That's all.

So there is no real reason to be superstitious about the cards, or afraid of them. Some people are un-nerved by the TV and movie generated occult mythos surrounding tarot cards. Sometimes they aren't comfortable because of their religious indoctrination. I respect that. People who avoid tarot readings because of religious beliefs are only doing what they think is right.

The key is that there is a difference between superstition and symbolism.

How you interact with Tarot cards symbolizes your attitudes toward your intuition, and your attitude toward the person for whom you are doing the Tarot reading...even if that person is yourself.
Blind faith in rituals, cards or something outside yourself without recognizing your part in the process is nothing more than primitive superstition. NOT all ritual or belief is superstitious. Just the mindless kind. Ritual is a tool, a symbol and a help, just like the cards themselves.

So on one hand, there is no real, concrete reason to treat the cards in any special way. There are some practical concerns. Not bending them is one. I'm not talking about the natural curve that comes from shuffling. I mean sharp creases that get in the way of shuffling. It isn't fair to the sitter (person getting the reading) if the shuffle is interrupted.  It only seems fair to give the process every best chance to be truly random, and to be responsive to the needs of the sitter. The second thing is just plain keeping them clean. Not because of some voodoo hex that will get you if you don't - because smudges and dirt are distracting, can also disrupt the way the cards slide when shuffling. Messy cards interfere with the intuitive process for those reasons.

On the other hand, intuition is a symbolic, subtle energy, even spiritual process. Looking at it from this perspective, how you interact with your cards is important...not in a literal way, but from what that interaction symbolizes. If you choose to work with tarot cards, how you handle the cards becomes a symbol for how you feel about the intuitive process and how you feel about your intuition.  If you do readings for others, how you respect the "process" of working with your own intuition is also a reflection of how you feel about them, about their life, and the sensitive issuesthey bring to you for help.

This reminds me a little of those fruit drink commercials on TV. Instead of "the pouch", respect the process...respect it!

Let's go back to that analogy of Tarot cards as a tool for accessing your intuitive knowing. Tools need a little maintenance every now and then. A little cleaning, a little oil, nothing obsessive (dare I say ritualistic?) but important just the same to prevent rust and keep the tools working well.

Tarot cards don't need that kind of work, obviously. All it takes to keep them clean and un-bent is a box. The box you bought them in is just fine. If they do become damaged, there is no hard and fast rules about how to discard them. My inclination is to recycyle them - giving them second life and usefulness is more respectful than sending them to the landfill by all means. After investing so much time and energy in a deck, it is hard to retire them, a little like giving up your woobie as a kid. If a ritual helps, they by all means use something. But there is no real imperitive to burn them like the flag, or bury them under a full moon or anything either. It is up to you and your, you know, intuition to decide what is best for you.

Here is where the Venn diagram of subtle energy and superstition get close enough to overlap a little. ANY object that comes in contact with a lot of people can imprint a little bit of energy...positive and negative. After a while, the object can become out of balance and take on more of one charge than the other. Very positive-charge objects "feel" good, "feel" magical and helpful. By the same token, negative accumulations can "feel" sluggish, off-putting, even toxic.

There are ways to keep cards as energy-clean, just like the storage box keeps them physically clean.
Which method you use is, of course, up to you. Being Reiki attuned, I'll just give Reiki to the deck after a series of readings or if a reading was particularly difficult or negative-feeling. Another way is to give a very light mist of a few drops of  lemon oil and a pinch of salt dissolved in a perfume atomizer of water. Shaking it first mixes the oil and energizes this purifying mist.

Some people will leave the deck under the light of a full moon since the moon is strongly associated with intuition. Though less common, I suspect sunlight would work well too...it is touted as the best antiseptic. Blowing gently on the deck with the intent of clearing it can help. Smuding your deck and work area might be the right thing for you. It is ok to experiment, as long as you hold a clear intention in mind i.e. clearing negative energy and holding a space of compassion and truth.

However you do it: scents, salt, smudging, scheduled ritual or just going with the flow of you instinct...a little card care is a good thing. As you care for your cards, you symbolically care for own spirit .

Wishing you a day of positive energy.



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