Breaking in a Tarot Deck

You might notice that right out of the box your new Tarot deck doesn’t feel very inspiring.  The card stock can be stiff and the cards may even stick together.  All you need to do is break in the deck gently and soon it will be feeling like an old friend.

Note: Please use caution when breaking in your deck.  Judge for yourself how sturdy the card stock is and how valuable to you the deck is.  For example, I would happily use these methods with my limited edition version of the Touchstone Tarot because the card stock is very thick and the cards seem to be well made.  However, I would think twice before trying these methods on my mass market Mystic Dreamer Tarot because the card stock is so very, very thin.

The first method you should use to break in your new deck is just simple shuffling.  Keep the deck with you and shuffle whenever you have the chance, and won’t bother those around you.  This is the best way to soften up the cards and make them move nicely against each other.

Another possibly more quick but definitely more scary method is to rub your cards over the edge of a table.  Take one card at a time and gently lay your hand over it.  Now rub it over the edge of the table in all directions including diagonal.  So, first you would do it longways, and then the short side, and then again for both diagonals.  This will quickly soften the card and maybe give your deck a bit of a bend.  Some people like that and some don’t.  Just be gentle yet persistent with your pressure and you should end up with a nicely broken in deck.

Whatever you choose to do, I recommend you invest in some fanning powder.  This can be easily obtained on eBay or at your local magic shop.  It is mainly Zinc stearate, a compound that repeals water. It helps to make your cards move softly against each other and prevents them from sticking to you or each other. I apply it by pouring a little bit in a bag. I then put in a few cards at a time and shake them around. I remove them and wipe off the excess with a soft cloth. I have found that the cards feel a little bit powdery for a couple of uses, but then become almost velvety. It is worth noting that the power is white and can add a bit of a filmy look to black or dark coloured cards. Don’t be tempted to use talc instead–it absorbs moisture and will cause your cards to stick together.

Be sure to take some time to study you deck while you are breaking it in. By using your deck you are sure to speed the breaking in process, and also learn the symbolism unique to the deck.