How do You See Your Tarot Deck?

Do Tarot Decks have their own energy?

  • Not at all - they are just paper and ink.

    Votes: 27 30.3%
  • They carry their own mystical energy and need to be cleansed often.

    Votes: 5 5.6%
  • They have some inherent energy imparted by the artist and yourself.

    Votes: 41 46.1%
  • They are inherintly EVIL and I'm now off to the nearest fundamentalist chruch!

    Votes: 4 4.5%
  • Numbers 1, 2 and 3 are all correct.

    Votes: 16 18.0%

  • Total voters


Hi all! I've seen, in a couple of threads lately, comments about what Tarot decks are and their personalities, energies and/or lack thereof. I think this is a valuable discussion for several reasons; it can help me to solidify and verbalize my own thoughts, it might help others to do the same and it might help any folks who are new to Tarot to learn for themselves what they feel about their decks.

I actually kind of view Tarot decks themselves in two different lights, that some might think are in opposition to each other. But it depends on just what the actual thing is we're looking at.

On the one hand, there is the physical make up of a Tarot Deck. They are, in essence, simply paper, ink, a few chemicals and, on most decks, some sort of thin protective coating. I don't believe that they carry any psychic energy when they are new. And, I don't believe they are capable of passively accumulating much energy, simply because paper, ink, etc... just doesn't hold on to energy very well. However, I do believe that a person can intentionally impart energy into an individual Tarot deck, but that has to do with that person's effort to affect the deck, not the deck itself.

On the other hand, I do believe that a Tarot deck can have a personality as well as being better for certain types of readings or questions. A Tarot deck can inherently have an "energy" within itself. However, this is not from the factory, but rather is a fusion of the artwork and my personal energies and outlooks. Most Tarot artists spend a great deal of time developing the images, inserting symbolisms that work with our personality, psyche and intuition to bring forth messages/answers during a reading.

In essence, the little stacks of paper with images printed on them are not inherently evil, nor do they generally carry energy from previous readings or from simply being touched by someone. (Yes, I have heard, many times, that we shouldn't let other people handle our Tarot decks. I have not had an issue with it.) But they do have a "personality" and "energy" imparted by the artist which interacts with me.

And yes, I do occasionally feel that a deck may need a "cleansing" or smudging. But I know that this is mostly for my own benefit.

So, after this long dissertation, what are your thoughts? I'm looking forward to the discussion.


I went with #3, because I do believe that any art has some of the energy of the artist. And of course, in a Tarot deck the majority of the energy involved comes from the reader and/or querent. But I'm not a deck-cleanser and never have been, unless you count the routine shuffling to shake off the previous reading, whether your own or someone else's. Of course any object can pick up energy from its surroundings, so that doesn't make Tarot decks any different in my eyes. Because after all, even though it is a work of art, it's still ink and paper.


I went with one because I agree with the above - the artist's voice is there (but not their energy). The skill is in me, which is how I can read multiple decks, and various types of systems, and playing cards, and interpret dreams.


I think a reader can "charge" the cards with purpose in much the same way as charging an amulet or other magical artifact. I also think the artist/creator can infuse the cards with symbolic meaning, again by conscious intention to do so, not as some incidental byproduct of the images. In either case, our perception that the cards manifest human traits seems to be more a result of projecting our own mystical sensibilities onto them (that is, treating them as a reflection or roadmap of our own psyche). The various archetypes embodied in the cards do speak eloquently to those with ears to hear them, but they aren't offended if we don't always understand, and they don't need to take a day off to rest. Perhaps the leap from our childhood tendency to anthropomorphize bits of painted plastic and cloth by imbuing them with personalities, to doing the same thing with bits of paper and ink, is not such a long one. The "humanizing" factor seems to lie in our own fertile imagination, not in the objects themselves. I have decks I think of as comfortable "old friends," but that's just me talking to myself.


I agree:

...this is not from the factory, but rather is a fusion of the artwork and my personal energies and outlooks.

...they do have a "personality" and "energy" imparted by the artist which interacts with me.

And yes, I do occasionally feel that a deck may need a "cleansing" or smudging. But I know that this is mostly for my own benefit.

In my case - what deck I use for a reading, depends on what mood I'm in.


My energy and the universe or spirit is what is at work.


I think they're a tool, like Rorschach blots but much richer. We draw our own meanings from them based on our personal associations and cultural meanings. They're individual pieces of art that can stir deep emotions, and from that we use our instincts to build a story that holds meaning for ourselves and others.

I'm on the fence about how deeply people can use them, though. I think we're all connected by the simple fact that we are matter, coexisting in the same space and time. It's all an unfathomably large system. Your body is billions of cells, countless atoms, but they're all interconnected and dependent on one another. I think that with the right tools ( like tarot), some people might be able to tap into that connectedness enough to have flashes of genuine insight into another person or events they could never know otherwise. But I'm still a little skeptical - I'm new and I haven't had any cosmic insights yet myself lol.


I believe they are just paper and ink, but they do also have energy. Perhaps the energy of the artist remains in them, but mostly the energy of myself and the people who handle the cards when I am reading for them. I also believe that EVERYTHING has energy in it.

They are really a tool. at least how i see them. a tool like a hammer is for a carpenter. However, everything does have energy--including paper and ink. I can hand my customer the deck of cards to shuffle and then handed back to me, when I hold that deck after they have done so, it gives me a feeling that I can read. I feel and can read their energy--both from the cards they have handled and sitting close to them. I know things about them, before I even begin to lay out the cards.

This said, I don't really cleanse the cards as far as using sage or other incense - though my cards are always re-shuffled by myself and if I have time, I like to put them back into order, (number/suit order and major arcana order) then shuffling them again. Perhaps this is also a cleansing for them, because I don't feel any of my decks hold any evil energies in them after being used in a reading.

Sometimes they are also kept by crystals that are cleansing in nature--but anymore, that is the only sort of cleansing they get and I've never had a problem with any of my decks. So, I voted both 1 & 3

Julian Jaymes

Personally, I think that objectively, the cards are just ink on paper. The artist creates the art with deep symbolism and intention (usually), but it gets sent to a printer, they print it with ink on paper, it goes into a box, and it gets sent to me.

However...I feel (or think I feel) energy. Either there really IS a special energy that I put into my cards with my crystals and sage and gestures and rituals and such, OR I'm imagining it - but either way, psychologically, for me, the energy is real. And therefore, the rituals that I do to imbue/maintain energy in my cards works - whether it's real or not, I BELIEVE in my heart that it works, and therefore it's real enough for me!

All I know is, if I don't cleanse my cards every full moon (or within a few days - come on, who has time to work their work schedule around the moon phases??), if I don't do at least a little prayer before I read, if I toss my cards in the corner rather than placing them back in their handmade bag...*I* feel like I can't read them. Which means I can't read them. Which means that, real or not, my rituals are valuable and important. Regardless of whether anyone says they're real or not.

Maybe it's real. Maybe it's psychological. Maybe it's both. Maybe it's Maybelline. I say go for it with whatever works for you, and don't worry too much about what's absolutely scientifically real. If it helps you to have a crystal grid and 78 candles, use them (just be careful about fire hazards...). If you don't believe in ANY of that and keep your cards in a cardboard box with no cleansing or anything, that's fine too. :) I say just do what works for you, as long as you don't tell anyone else what to do or what IS real or ISN'T real.



I love this so far! Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.

Barleywine, when you mentioned "anthropomorphizing" a doll or toy, it made me think of how we might be doing that with our decks. This could be why I feel that a given deck has a particular kind of personality, or is better for this or that. We humans tend to do that with a lot of things I think, certainly our pets (okay, arguably dogs, cats, birds and so on do demonstrate differing "personality" traits), but we do it with so many things; homes, cars, and so on. It's not a great leap to apply it to Tarot decks. That doesn't make the feeling less real to us, but it is an interesting thought.

I'm hoping some folks will chime in with how they feel that customizing their decks (by trimming, edging, etc.) affects the energy or feeling of the decks.