Linda, a friend, student and fellow Tarot Topics blogger emailed me recently and asked me to write a bit about the technique of using more than one tarot deck in a reading.
Like many readers, I have a lot of decks. I am not a serious collector, but as with anything you really love, my collection has grown organically.
Sometimes I really enjoy using more than one deck in a reading. I don’t do it all the time, only when I feel inspired to do it, or am doing a reading that really requires it.
There are lots of ways to incorporate more than one deck in a reading, and lots of reasons to do it. I’ll share a few here.
Why would you want to use more than one deck in a reading? I think there are a lot of reasons. First, there are many traditions and styles of tarot decks. Some readers feel that different decks carry different energies, and speak differently to them. Perhaps consulting different decks on the same issue is like consulting a panel of experts rather than an individual expert.
On the other hand, if you use more than one deck, there is always the chance of having the same card come up twice. That could be a very strong statement.
There are also aesthetic reasons for using more than one deck. Using multiple decks could help a reader create their own style. Involving more color and more art in a reading could make the reading a more exciting, engaging and creative experience.
Sometimes we have decks that just seem to fit well for a particular use. The Lover’s Path Tarot might be good for questions about relationships, for instance. I have a deck (Tarot of Transformation) that I affectionately refer to as “The Big Guns.” For me, this beautiful deck is too big in both size and energy to use for a full reading. However, when my client and I just can’t figure out the truth using a more conventional deck in a conventional spread, I bring out the Big Guns and have the client pull just three of these amazing cards. The answer usually presents itself clearly.
If you are a person who works with decks from more than one tradition, say both Crowley and Waite, it might be fun to blend the wisdom of both in a single reading. On the other hand, there are some popular tarot themes, such as dragons, angels or goddesses, where there exists more than one deck with the same theme. What might it be like to do a reading with both Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Tarot and Lo Scarabeo’s Universal Goddess Tarot?
There are as many ways to incorporate multiple decks into a reading as your imagination allows. You might do an opening spread with one deck, and smaller spreads to answer specific questions with different decks. You might do a larger spread with one deck, and pull clarifying cards with another deck, placing each clarifier next to the card it is clarifying. You might do one clarifier for each card in the spread, or clarify only the cards about which you have questions.
You can do an opening spread with one deck, and dialogue with a second deck to go deeper, or answer specific questions. You might have a number of decks on your table, and allow a client to pick cards from the decks of their choice to answer individual questions.
There are many tarot traditions. It is good to learn, honor and practice those traditions. But tarot is nothing if not a tool of creativity. When the originators of the traditions we honor today lived, US Games, Llewellyn and other card publishers didn’t exist. Ciro Marchetti, Robert Place and Lisa Hunt hadn’t been born.
We shouldn’t hold ourselves only to the practices developed by those who came before us. We, as the tarotists of today, must learn from the tarotists of yesterday. But we also have the freedom to use the new tools and technologies available to us now, and develop new practices.
Reading with multiple decks is a wide-open field for us to explore, using our own inspiration, ideas and intuition. Be creative and have fun!