Breaking the Ice: 5 Ways to Bond with Your Tarot Deck
I'm sure for a lot of us, we have'll a regular stream of newcomer-decks that we'll have to warm up to. How do we break the ice and establish a better connection with the deck of cards before us? Well, here's 5 ways for you to consider and experiment!
Sit with your deck and look through the cards one by one. Then look at them in groups so you can compare and contrast them.
Starting from the Fool to the last card at the bottom of your new deck, look through the cards individually. Make sure you give yourself enough time and space to notice the details of the deck. You don't have to do this meticulous and spend like 1000 years on a single card, but I'd say that you should give yourself enough time to take interest in a card and notice what's going on in the images. Notice the artistic and symbolic choices that the creator shave made for this deck. Notice how the landscapes and background are portrayed. Notice what the characters and figures are wearing. Notice how they position themselves. Allow yourself to engage with the images and how the traditional meanings are presented in this particular deck. Some of the questions you can ask yourself during this process are:
What do you notice? What is your favourite detail about the card you are holding? What is something strange or something not quite right about the images depicted?
What does the card immediately make you think of?
What are some immediately feelings that arise from looking at the card?
What are the colour schemes used in this deck? What are textures and layers?
What are some interesting depictions of tarot cards within this deck?
Is there a particular deck that has struck you as unconventional and deviates from the depictions you are used to? E.g. "Whoa, this is a very different 4 of Cups!"
Who are the characters and figures? How are they dressed? What are their expressions?
Remember, this doesn't have to be a laborious process. You want to go through them relatively quickly the first time you do it, then you can always choose to spend more time with them later. I think it's important to get a good sense of the deck and who this deck is by "introducing" yourself (or letting them introduce themselves to you) to the 78 cards of awesome in that deck.
When you are done looking at them individually, you can also address them in groups so you can compare and contrast them. What are the differences? What are some of the similarities? What do you notice? Are they positioned in similar manners? For example, you can take out all the masculine archetypes to explore the common themes that they have. You can look at the Emperor, Hierophant and Hermit to see how power and authority are depicted in this deck. Or you can take out the feminine archetypes like the Empress and High Priestess to see what they have in common.
Some groups and pairings that you can try:
Take out all the masculine archetypes from the major arcana and compare / contrast them.
Take out all the feminine archetypes major arcana and compare / contrast them.
Take out all the cards from Suit of Wands (or a suit of your choice) and go through them one by one.
Take out all the court cards from the Suit of Wands (or a different suit) and see what they have in common.
Take out all the pages, knights, queens or kings and examine them together by their class. What do they have in common? How are they different?
On the other hand, you can also try grouping the tarot cards together by common themes or in ways that make sense to you. For instance, I've always grouped the Star, the Moon and the Sun together as the "celestial orbs" or the "divine trios". What about you?
Look for recurring motifs, images and symbols
This is one of the best ways to get to know a tarot deck and the language that it speaks. The recurring motifs, images and symbols are basically the commonly used words in that particular tarot deck, and getting to know these prominent vocabularies will help you work with this deck much more intimately and efficiently. It's like kind of learning about the lingo a new friend uses so you can better communicate with this person.
For example, with the Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine, I notice that there are a lot of depictions of machines, vehicles, inventions, and gadgets. The characters are dressed in Victorian fashion and the scene are often portraying adventure, exploration and invention. What do these recurring images tell me?
Machines speak to work and productivity. This means that one of the main themes of this deck is working hard to achieve your goals and "maintaining your machine" so you can function smoothly in life.
Vehicles speak to movement. This connects with the scenes of adventure and exploration that I have also noticed. This means that this deck has a great sense of forward momentum, personal expansion, and pioneering spirit.
Inventions and gadgets speak to resourcefulness and the utilization of tools to further one's goal. This tells me that this deck is probably very clever and knows a lot of life hacks + creative solutions to help me solve the problems at hand.
After you examine the motifs, you will have a much better sense of the "world" and landscape of this deck, as well as the language that it speaks. You will also gain a better sense of what this deck will be good for. Combining the elements of work, productivity, adventure, exploration, expansion and resourcefulness--well, you know anytime you have questions related to expanding your career, starting a new business or revamping your business, curing a bad habit and cultivating good ones, and increasing your time management and productivity--this deck will be perfect because it just loves talking about those things to start with! And this is something you have observed by looking at the common "tropes" that are used by this deck.
Immerse yourself in the world of your tarot deck
What this means is that you want to create an environment in which you are constantly exposed to things that are related to your deck. It's kind of like learning a new language. If you want to learn French, you probably want to immerse yourself in a community that speaks exclusively French, a place that conveys the culture to you in which your brain will be able to internalize all the sensory details that it is picking up from this environment.
Creating an immersive environment by surrounding yourself with things that are related to the deck you are studying is a great way to forge a tighter bond! You can do this by researching into the mythology, lores and history of your deck. You can also do this by reading books, watching movies and listening to music that are created in the genre of your deck / or share common themes with your deck. It's a great way to make greater connections and become more knowledgeable about your deck.
For example, if I want to create an immersive environment for learning and studying Steampunk Tarot: Wisdom from the Gods of the Machine, I would probably be watching steampunk movies like The Golden Compass, Ghibli's Castle in the Sky, and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. I'll be listening to steampunk orchestral soundtracks. I'll be reading and ingesting short stories that are written in the genre of steampunk. I might google "steampunk" and read up on its history, genre tropes, and its development. I might start a Pinterest board and fill it with steampunk gadgets, stationary, and clothes that I am not necessarily going to buy.
All of this will help me immerse myself in the world of my deck and help me understand my tarot deck's tropes and "language". This will also help me with my process of interpretation because I will have so much more knowledge at my disposal when I actually do a reading.
Perform daily draws using only the deck you are trying to bond with
For me, I am working with the Steampunk Tarot right now and I'm doing daily draws and daily spreads with it, every single day. I started doing this at the beginning of February and I plan to do this for a month. Using the deck and getting to know the cards everyday is a great way to become more familiar and intimate with your deck. This is not to say that you won't be able to work with other decks (I'm sure we are engaged in an "open" relationship with so many of them!!" but it is a good thing to do to conduct a reading using the deck in question--at least once everyday.
Trim your deck or physically reshape your deck in some way
I know this may not be a popular option because why would you want to cut into a brand new deck? But I speak from personal experience. It's not something mandatory but physically altering and changing the shape of your deck really gives you a sense of intimacy--because it will make you feel like you have done something to contribute to its final form. It becomes an extension of yourself and your efforts. It becomes something that you have created. And it's true--you have taken part in its creative process--be it trimming, edging, or corner-punching or all of the above--you have taken part. You have left your "mark" on the deck. It has now fully become yours. You have personalized it, customized it, and "touched" it. It is now more "yours" than ever! If you have never trimmed a deck with horrendously ugly white borders, I strongly recommend you to give it a shot.
Anyhoo. To close...
I hope this blog post has given you some interesting things to try to bond with your deck and I hope that it's been helpful to you. :) Go and break that ice and get cozy with your deck!! Do it!! NOW!!!! And check out my video on this very subject matter as well. :D