One thing I can say for sure is that many of the rituals surrounding storing and “cleansing” tarot decks really don’t appeal to me. Sometimes my die-hard skeptic comes out and I’m like–“There is no way I’m going to waste a bunch of salt or sage on a tarot placebo.” The same goes for the idea that decks should be wrapped in silk. I don’t personally use silk, since silkworm larvae are killed in the process of harvesting. I also read somewhere…on another blog (sorry, attribution fail) that silk is one of the fabrics that is most likely to attract critters and therefore one of the worst for storing tarot cards.
Until recently, I haven’t really been concerned about storing my cards at all, mostly because I have only one deck and use it pretty much every day. But I haven’t been keeping my Universal Waite cards in their box for the past few months because my box is sad. When I pulled them out of storage in January, I was surprised how beat-up the box was, but didn’t remember it being any other way. The upshot is that I must have used the cards a lot as a teenager and only remember a fraction of that use. (The same goes for watching anime or listening to Green Day, probably.) So my deck has been sitting all naked and lonely on my altar for a while.
I’m actually fine with a naked and lonely deck, but things become more complicated when you add multiple decks to the mix. I will soon be the owner of not just one, but FOUR tarot decks (the Linestrider, as well as the Wild Unknown and Pamela Colman Smith Centennial decks that I ordered yesterday.) Since I won’t be using them all at the same time, I want a nice way to store them, one that keeps them easily accessible and easy to tell apart. I think the Linestrider will come in a pretty standard paper box, so while that’s OK for long-term storage, I don’t want to be opening and closing it all the time if I’m reading with it often. Likewise, the Centennial deck will come as part of a huge boxed set, so I will want to have some place else to put it if I’m doing regular readings with it. (It does come with a little organza bag, but one that doesn’t set me on fire, to say the least.) The Wild Unknown comes in a pretty snug, sturdy, and compact box, from what I can tell, so I will probably keep it there most of the time with the exception of when I travel. So, I need something to store the other three decks.
I was inspired by the Slow Holler people (by the way–support this amazing deck in the last days of its Kickstarter campaign!!!) creating a custom handkerchief/bandana to store the deck. And I thought, huh, why don’t I just buy a few bandanas? So I went down to my local menswear shop and picked up a couple of US-made bandanas for $2 each.
I’m mostly familiar with bandanas as the thing that my dad wraps around his forehead before he goes to mow the lawn. Having purchased a couple for myself, I was struck by how beautiful they are, and how much we take traditional bandana patterns for granted. So I’ve decided to not only wrap my decks in them, but to use them as “laying cloths” as well. I bought a dark blue for my Universal Waite, a lavender for the Linestrider, and will get a sky blue for the Centennial deck and a black one for the Wild Unknown. My only concern is that dye from the bandanas will rub off on the decks. This is probably more of a concern if I’m traveling and the edges of the deck are getting jostled against the cloth. It’s also not that big of a concern. I want to treat my decks well and with respect, just like with any other everyday object I use, I actually want to use them, which is different from keeping them in pristine condition.
Wrapping my deck has taken a little getting used to, but I really like the sturdy, soft package that results. I feel much better about the prospect of traveling with my cards because wrapping them tightly in cloth makes sure that they don’t move around much and gives them good padding all at the same time. The bandana cloth likes to stick to itself, so I don’t think a bundle would come undone easily.
And while I don’t think there’s any inherent power or energy in a deck-wrapping, I do think the ritual of unwrapping the deck before use and re-wrapping it afterwards adds a nice intentionality to the act of reading the cards