House of cards: Choosing the right storage for your Tarot deck

Posted by Michelle Gruben on

Where do you keep your Tarot or Oracle deck?  Deciding how to store your cards is one of the first decisions you'll make as the owner of a new deck.  It depends on your personal preferences and your individual reading habits--whether you travel with the deck, for example.  In this article, we'll consider the most common methods of deck storage, and some advantages and disadvantages for each.

The original box.

Some people--perhaps most--prefer to keep their cards in the original packaging.  The publisher's box is usually perfectly sized and matches the cards and booklet.  For owners of multiple decks, it's easy to see at a glance which one you're pulling off the shelf.  And if you ever decide to sell or trade the deck, it's a plus to have the original box.

Another reason to keep the box is because the artist has signed the deck, and the signature usually goes on the outside of the box.  (Not a box-hoarder?  The Two of Coins traditionally bears the imprint of the artist or printer, and is a great alternative place to put an autograph.)

So why wouldn't you keep the cards in their original box?  Well, most standard Tarot decks come with a box made of paperboard, usually not much thicker than the cards themselves.  These flimsy boxes just won't stand up to being dropped on the floor, jostled around in a purse, or being opened and re-opened hundreds of times.  A worn-out box exposes the cards to being dented and damaged by the elements.  The more often you read your cards, the sooner the original box will need to be replaced. 

A fabric bag or pouch.

Many a treasured deck finds its home in a sewn fabric pouch.  You can buy a pouch or make one specifically for your cards.  It can be a simple cotton muslin bag, or a lush lined pouch of velvet, leather, silk, or brocade.  If you wish, you can decorate the bag with embroidery, charms, fabric paint, and applique.  Drawstrings are the best closure for a Tarot bag--they hold the deck securely, but won't make indentations in the cards like buttons or snaps can.

Bags are extremely portable, durable and easy to customize.  For professional readers, a beautiful bag adds an element of glamour and mystery to your presentation of the Tarot.

When shopping for that perfect bag, remember that the flat measurements of the bag need to be larger than the length and width of each card in order to accommodate the thickness of the deck.  For a standard-size Tarot deck, look for a bag that's 5 inches by 7 inches or larger.  Oracle decks and oversized decks will require a larger bag.

A scarf.

Not crafty?  A fabric scarf simply wrapped around the cards will protect the edges as well as any bag.  When unwrapped, a square of fabric doubles as a table cloth for your reading. Thirty-six inches square is a good size for medium-scale spreads, like the popular Celtic Cross.

A silk scarf is said to shield the deck from unwanted energies, and is a very respectable, old-school way to store your cards.

A special box or chest.

Wood boxes and metal tins are unsurpassed for the protection they offer your deck.  A quality Tarot box will protect your deck from moisture, bumps, and bruises--and look great doing it. 

Boxes may be lined or unlined.  They can be very plain or decorated with magickal words, signs and symbols.  Though not as portable as fabric bags, a Tarot chest is perfect for a favorite deck that usually lives on your altar. 

The ultimate method of Tarot care is to wrap your cards in cloth, and then place them inside a Tarot box.  If you like to keep crystals or other items with your deck, a Tarot box is the best way to accomplish this.

That's all, folks! Read more Tarot articles here, or browse the archive.

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