Fun Tarot Exercise for Getting to Know a Deck

Deck Lust

[dek luhst]


1. To have a strong desire to own a tarot or oracle deck, regardless of the fact that you already have 10+ decks, you're eating ramen and rice cakes 24/7, and your paycheck has already been blown on crystals.

Look, I'm guilty. So guilty. As I write this, there are two kickstarter/indiegogo decks that I have funded, and one Lenormand deck from England that should be here any time now. Any. Time. Now. 

And I don't really see a problem with this. I collect decks because there are so many different kinds of people to read for, and each deck has its own "voice." I always want to match up the querent with a deck that's going to speak in a language that they understand, and that will give me the right cues for their situation. 

The problem is, just as I am counting on each deck having its own voice and language, sometimes that means that I understand one deck better than another. To take this a bit further, I'm fluent in the Wild Unknown language, but I miss words here and there when I'm conversing with a Dreaming Way language.  

And I know I'm not the only one. I often hear in the tarot community that readers will have one or two decks that don't get used very often because they're "tricky" or "difficult" or "not talking."

Well, one of the only ways to solve that particular problem is by working with the deck (if you like it too much to find it a new home). So I sketched up a little exercise that I've used, and I hope will be helpful to you, too.

Step 1: Get Your Deck

For this exercise I chose my mini-Tarot deck because it's imagery is very simple, and it's also a deck that I'm often reluctant to use for fear that I won't understand it. You could do this exercise with any deck, though. Obviously. That's the point!

Step 2: Ask a Question

This is ideally a fun, hypothetical question, that YOU are going to answer. Not your deck. So, for this first example I asked the question: Where should I go out to eat tonight? *see note below*

Step 3: Answer the Question

Yes, you. You're going to answer this question. Start going through your deck, one card at a time, and look for images or card names, or symbolism that might contain an answer.

I went through my mini-tarot and started pulling out all the cards that could indicate different restaurants.

Here is what each card told me, and the rationale behind that message (left-to-right and top row to bottom row):

King of Cups: That seafood restaurant you've been thinking about. (The fish)

Justice: That super-healthy vegan joint. (The scales and the fruit)

Four of Pentacles: That barbecue place. (The pig)

Six of Pentacles: Panera. Duh. (The bread, plus the fact that they're moderately priced)

Page of Wands: Thai! (Chili peppers and the lantern)

Ten of Pentacles: Stay in tonight and cook something excellent. (The association of home and abundance)

Ace of Cups: Go to that place that's known for its wine. (Is it just me who sees that cup and thinks of wine?)

The Hermit: That restauraunt where you usually go when you're eating alone. (It's The Hermit)

Three of Swords: The vegetarian restaurant you like so much. (The radish)

King of Wands: Indian. (The elephant)

The Empress: That cute farm-to-table place. (Abundance, nature, it's perfect.)

Four of Cups: That buffet where you always eat way too much. (Could this be anything else?)

You might be thinking: But, so many of those cards have animals, or fruits and vegetables on them. How in the world would this work with a more complicated or abstract deck? 

Well trust me, it still works. Here I've done the same exercise with the Wild Unknown.

The Hierophant: That really weird place that's kind of gothic and looks like it's trying to be a hipster version of the Jekyll and Hyde restaurant.

The Chariot:That dive bar that all the bikers hang out at.

Daughter of Pentacles: That restaurant that serves local game.

Two of Cups: That super romantic place with the fresh roses on the table, and the fireplace.

Three of Cups: That place I always go with my two best friends.

Nine of Swords: That place that failed its health inspection, and was hideous, and shut down, but now has a new owner.

Ten of Cups: That one place where the drinks are excellent and I got totally sloshed.

Eight of Cups: That one place where I broke one of the glasses that one time. Whoops.

Step 4: Repeat, With More Questions!

The greater variety of questions you quiz yourself/your deck with, the better. 

Why Does This Work?

I believe one of the keys to understanding and working with a deck lies in your associations to the cards. The more associations you form, the more connections you make, the easier it is. Asking and answering these hypothetical questions allows you to form a whole mess of connections/associations without having to struggle through ten or twenty readings.

Other Questions You Can Ask to Get to Know Your Deck Better:

What is a Yes? What is a No?

  • For this question, go through the whole deck and make two piles. One pile will be all the "yes" cards, the other pile would be all the "no" cards. Look at each card. What kind of vibe does it give off?

What should I binge-watch this weekend?

  • This one is way too much fun, and I even did it as an example:
  • In order left-to-right and top row to bottom row: Law and Order, The Tudors, Modern Family, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Game of Thrones, Cosmos, the Twilight Movies, the Paranormal Activity Movies.

Will leaving my job be for my greatest and highest good?

What kind of gift should I get for my mother's/brother's/dad's/friend's/sister's birthday?

Whatever tickles your fancy!

*Note*: "Should" questions are generally not the best way to approach any form of divination (in my opinion). The Universe is not going to tell you what you should and should not do. Should/Should not are decisions that you must make for yourself. Always rephrase these questions in a way that does not take agency away from you. For example: Instead of "Where should I go out to eat tonight?" you could ask "Where might I have the most fun and delicious dining experience tonight?"

I am using "should" for this exercise because technically you're not asking someone else for the answer in this exercise. You're asking yourself.