How to Cleanse Tarot Cards to Guarantee the Most Accurate Readings

Photo: Getty Images/Elizabeth Fernandez
Yesterday I went to my friend Tarra's apartment for butternut squash curry tacos and conversations about cephalopods—you know, as one does—and the talk quickly turned to tarot cards. There is so much to discuss about tarot, from card meanings to different spreads like one card tarot pulls. And if you know Tarra, you know that talk usually turns to tarot cards. She's been flipping cards since the days of seventh-grade slumber parties and 2 a.m. runs to Quick Chek. Seventeen years later her card game is strong as ever. And yet, color me confused when I brought out a new deck of Ancient Italian Tarot (Happy Mother's Day, mom!) and she told me she could teach me how to cleanse tarot cards.

Do what now?

So, apparently learning how to cleanse tarot cards is a thing you might want to do before you get a new deck, or if have an old one, or if you're giving a new or old one to someone else. Actually, cleansing, blessing, or activating your cards is especially good practice if they're a present to someone else. "Tarot cards are traditionally given as gifts," Tarra says. "Cleansing the cards and doing a protection ritual for them before you give them to a new owner will neutralize any weird energies they've picked along the way."

There is this myth—I repeat, myth—that buying your own tarot card deck is bad luck. And I guess it would be really rude of me if I gave my mom a cursed one. So after dinner Tarra set me up with a royal blue mesh bag of goodies, wisely relayed her method of cleansing them, and then I promptly forgot every word of it until we touched base again this morning.

Now, there are a lot of ways that one can cleanse a deck, and I'm not here to challenge the method of any other hardcore tarot card readers. This is something that's simply provided us with lots of strong readings. Like, all Tarra's premonitions about me tangoing with the Knight of Pentacles were true AF.

So today I'm sharing with you cleansing ritual passed down from the great psychics from our home country aka Red Bank, New Jersey, around where they filmed Clerks.

Here's how to cleanse tarot cards in four easy steps

1. Meditate

Simply take a minute to relax and clear your mind of any thoughts. I am notoriously bad at not having anxieties race through my head at rapid fire speed, and if you suck at that, too, we have an easy meditation guide that should help you out. Just try not to neglect this step if you can.

"If you're giving the cards to a loved one, by meditating with them you're putting your good intentions and energies into the cards to insure helpful and accurate future readings," Tarra says.

2. Burn sage and pass each card through the smoke

It's not uncommon to burn sage when we want to give our home a purifying cleanse, like when washing the bed sheets doesn't feel like enough to ward off the energy of your last break-up. So, same deal here! While you're burning the sage or smudging, you pass each card through the Palo Santo smoke and flip them over, taking ample time to appreciate the art. You probably paid upwards of $20 for these things, you might as well.

3. Pack the cards up with bay leaves

What? It's not like you're using them for cooking. Bay leaves are useful herb when it comes to divination, they're meant to essentially ward off evil. Bookend your cards with the bay leaves and they should be safe from the ex (and other monsters!) who made you sage your whole damn house.

4. And finally, put a crystal on top for protection

Tarra gave me a piece of black tourmaline, which is a really interesting pick. Black tourmaline absorbs negative energy and converts it to something non-threatening. It also allows you to see situations clearly and objectively away from bad influences, and helps you respond more compassionately. All of that sounds useful when it comes to divination, but there there are other crystals for protection you can look into if your local occult shop is out of black tourmaline. Ugh, again?

Once your ritual is over, the tarot cards should be in peak form for making premonitions. Happy flipping!

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