Is Your Deck Alive? Thoughts on Anthropomorphizing Your Tarot Deck
If you've ever wondered why some tarot practitioners talk about their decks as if they were a living entity, or why some decks could be sweet while others blunt or straight up critical and negative--well, it's a complex question that requires an examination of one's belief in how reality operates. So there's really no black and white answer because your relationship with tarot is like your relationship with god--it's about what you resonate with and what inspires you to practice with authenticity and emotion.
Personally though, I don't believe a deck of tarot cards is some kind of living entity,
…or that it's got some kind of energetic consciousness that is able to convey certain attitude or tune when giving a reading to its owner.
To me, a deck of cards is simply a deck of cards. It's ink and paper, and it carries no intelligence or personality whatsoever on its own. I know that sounds very unromantic for a lot of you, but the magic of tarot has never been contingent upon the physicality of the cards, or the actual deck itself. I believe the magic of divination dwells within the practitioner: the magic is within me, or rather, in my intention. It is because I am genuinely asking a question and seeking the answer with my heart that the oracle (which is tarot) answers. The conversation that I have with tarot is really one with myself.
How about for those people who believe that a deck of cards carry certain energetic signatures or is a consciousness in and of itself?
The way I see it is that reality is a very mysterious thing.
I believe that even the "deadest" physical objects can carry energy, so who am I to say that a tarot card, with the congregation of symbols and images that activate portals to human's collective and archetypal consciousness, does not hold a mind of its own? Who knows. I don't think I'll be able to adequately explain how tarot works, or how reality works, but I do think that reality functions according to our beliefs and perceptions of reality. If we believe that a deck of card is able to communication with its own level of consciousness, then in our minds, we hold the space for that to manifest. If we believe that a deck of cards is just a deck of cards, then it will always be a deck of cards unless we decide to shift our perspectives otherwise. Our reality is fundamentally linked to how we perceive reality and how we think reality functions.
I often refer to my tarot decks or my tarot practice as a living entity or as a personality.
If you follow me on my social media, you probably noticed that I sometimes talk about tarot in personifying terms. I often refer to my tarot decks or my tarot practice as a living entity or as a personality.
I do this in the way as a storyteller may refer to their creations (such as characters or lores) as a real occurrence. Writers often express that certain characters just "came to them" or "started talking" as if they were alive and dictated their stories to be written. I don't think this is because they believe that characters are actually real entities that exist somewhere in an alternative space-time and came in contact with their writers so that they might participate in the telling of their tales. They do it because they are in love with their creative work, and the creative process of storytelling is a very dynamic one. When they engage with their ideas, it's like they are having a real conversation with the characters they created. It's almost an act of co-creation because it's so organic.
I feel a tarot reading channels its messages in the same way. As we engage we tarot, we open ourselves to conversation and dialogue.
We engage with the particular images and symbols on the cards before us and we seek to understand what they are trying to tell us by tapping into our intuition, knowledge and inner wisdom. Tarot is a magic mirror with a diverse and fluid vocabulary that guides us to unearth the insights within ourselves.
And because tarot operates primarily visually (as it relies on its art and various symbolic depictions), the messages that we channel or interpret from the cards are going to be influenced by what the images seek to convey--something that is determined by the artist or the creator of that deck. In essence, a tarot deck that is "blunt" or "sweet" isn't really due to the fact that it has a blunt or sweet temper--it is because the images that are chosen inspire those tones. For example, Happy Tarot is created with soft pastel colours and adorable cartoon characters, featuring landscapes like cloud kingdoms, candy land and forests filled with cute friendly animals or creatures. The overall atmosphere of the deck is very sweet and inspires your inner child to come out and play. On the other hand, I don't think you would call Deviant Moon Tarot "sweet". I have never personally worked with that deck but I heard that it is known to be blunt and cuts straight through your bullshit--which is probably due to the grotesque images and dark symbolism that are able to resonate with your inner darkness, "cutting straight through your bullshit".
So yeah--while I use a lot of anthropomorphic or "personifying" language to talk about tarot, I don't really subscribe to the belief that my tarot decks are alive. I don't really have an issue with people who think so and practice tarot accordingly. Tarot practice is meant to be a personal thing and as I said in my video: "I do me. They do them." On a side note, I do think that it can be problematic when people use their anthropomorphic language or beliefs to bypass personal autonomy or to create excuses for not improving their lives. "I can't move on because my tarot deck is being negative!" or "I feel like shit because my deck was blunt!" Fortunately, I don't think this happens very often and most people who talk about their decks being blunt is quite positive with a tinge of humour. "Oh gee is my deck blunt! I guess I have nowhere to hide but to face my shadows and get to work!"
What about you?
Do you believe that your tarot deck is alive? Do you believe it's just a pile of paper? Or is it something else? Share your thoughts in the comments section.