Saturday, May 6, 2017

Don't "Connect" With Your Deck? Be More Specific!

Tarot enthusiasts are wont to make the following sorts of statements about decks in their collection:

I really love the artwork, but I just don't connect with it.

I tried reading with it a few times but I couldn't seem to connect with it, so I gave it away.

I'd like to encourage the use of more specific language rather than the common refrain: I don't "connect" with it. What does that mean? It certainly doesn't mean the same thing for everyone who uses the phrase.
Golden Tarot - Liz Dean
When people talk about not "connecting" with a deck, they usually mean one (or a combination) of the following:

  • They feel uncomfortable with the deck's theme
  • They don't like the artwork
  • They like the artwork but find it doesn't represent the card essences clearly or accurately enough
  • They like the artwork but find each card too "busy" or the images too fine/detailed to read with easily
  • They find non-scenic Minor cards a challenge to interpret 

Why does specific language matter? Well, speaking as a writer and language professional, I strongly believe in cultivating accuracy in expression. I also feel that working to be as clear and detailed as possible about our experiences is a wonderful exercise in mindfulness and self-awareness. And of course understanding exactly why someone else doesn't "connect" with a deck might help us to empathize more profoundly with their experience, and hence allow us to commiserate and/or offer better feedback.

There is some wisdom in not being overly quick to rid ourselves of decks that don't seem to do it for us in the moment: those that don't call to us now may call quite powerfully to us later. Sometimes particular decks seem to complement a particular phase of our journey, and thus make the ideal companion, even if only for a while.

And then there are decks that may collect dust for years, but are worth hanging on to anyway, such as....

My copy of the Prisma Visions Tarot - a beautiful deck, and a solid part of my collection, but one I rarely feel called to read with. Why? The artwork on some cards (ahem, Wands courts) is simply a bit "messy," which is not aesthetically pleasing to me, and in some cases has me examining a card up close muttering, "What the hell is happening in this picture??" I also think that in the creation of the suit storylines, aspects of each individual card's composition and unique meaning was sacrificed. Still, it's a lovely and extremely creative work of art.
Prisma Visions - James R. Eads
So, here's to clarity in articulation - may it serve us well!


  1. Haha, I agree with you on all counts! It's good to be clear on why you don't use a deck. It can also help you understand when you might want to use it.

    For example, I used the Paulina Cassidy Tarot when working a tarot phone line, and realised that, for that kind of quick, high-pressure situation, clarity and simplicity was far better. While I'm not a great fan of the Thoth, it worked far better for the phone lines, as I knew the deck well (even if I didn't like it), and the images are very clear at a glance. For meditation, though, and a single card draw, the Paulina Cassidy might be perfect. Or for an in-person reading where you can take time and the images appeal to the client... Horses for courses ;)

    1. Thanks, Chloe! Interesting about your experience with decks on the phone lines! I definitely agree that Paulina Cassidy's art is great for meditations, or even meditative examinations of the cards - the art is so fine and so detailed!