The dictionary definition of ritual is as follows;
‘a set of fixed actions and sometimes words performed regularly, especially as part of a ceremony:’
I recently did a short review of the Llewellyn Classic Deck, as part of that I commented that the quality of the cards impacted the ‘ritual’ for me, and this got me thinking about ‘ritual’ and what that means. The cards were very thin and poor quality and this took some of the magic of the process away, I did not feel luxury in my tools, they did not feel special and as such I am not sure I believed in them so much.
You will find lots of advice for rituals in relation to Tarot cards and reading the cards, advice for rituals on housing your decks, advice for how to shuffle and cut the decks and advice on how to cleanse the decks. My advice for any ritual is only do it, if it achieves something and means something to you.
So for example, here are my very simple Tarot rituals…..
I keep my decks in an assortment of places, some are still boxed, some are in little bags and some are wrapped in scarves. I tend to keep the ones I use the most in the easiest to access bags. I don’t buy special things to keep my cards in, but I find that they just turn up when I need them and look out for them. I don’t keep crystals with my decks, but I can understand why people would want too. I don’t do an awful lot of reading for others so do not feel a need to ‘cleanse’ the deck of energies, but again I could understand this if lots of people were handling the cards.
When I do a reading I do have a ritual. I shuffle the deck, I riffle the deck and I split the deck in three piles and then pick a pile to read from. I never read in a rush, as this feels disrespectful. This is just what feels right to me. Often a card may drop out, if this happens, I keep it and use this as my first card. All the while I concentrate on my question. If I am reading for another person, I shuffle the deck and then I pass the deck for them to shuffle and cut, I let them do it however they like, as long as they concentrate on the question. I feel it is important for the questioner to have that connection with the cards – it creates intent for them and for me. However, I can also understand how you can read for someone without them even being in the same room as the deck. I also like to light a candle if it is dark, or sometimes I will only read with a cup of tea. Getting the candle and making the tea is all part of the ritual. When I first started reading, I used to always smoke! The cigarette was a real part of laying the cards out – don’t do that though, it turns out it is really, really bad for you.
Ritual is about creating a framework for building ‘intent’ into the process. It is only successful if you believe in the actions you are undertaking. A simple ritual can have just as much impact as an elaborate one, what matters is the intent. What matters is that those fixed actions result in meaning for you, and put you and your questioner into the right frame of mind for a good reading, and part of this is belief in the process, however simple or elaborate – it is only wrong if it doesn’t feel right, it is right if it feels right.
I have recently started watching The Crown on Netflix, and have just watched the episode where Elizabeth II is crowned in Westminster Abbey. This is being watched by the outcast Duke of Windsor – previously Edward VIII who famously abdicated the throne for his love for divorcee Wallis Simpson. He is sat in a room of friends watching the first televised Coronation and they get to the part of the ceremony where the Queen is ‘anointed’. This part of the Coronation was considered so sacred that the television cameras are turned away. An American asks the Duke, what are they doing? And he explains ‘a golden canopy is lifted over The Queen and the Archbishop (of somewhere) uses oil to literally ‘anoint’ her. He places this magical oil on her hands, her chest and her head, as a symbol of her ascension and recognition by God’ …after all the Monarchy are still, appointed by God. At this point someone in the room shouts out ‘this is all crazy!’ and the Duke says ‘not at all, who wants transparency, when you can have magic’
I agree with him. My shuffling the deck a certain way, or making tea, or lighting a candle is just a simple ritual, but it is a ritual all the same. Who knows how the cards work? Is it an outside force? or is it the magic that we ourselves lend the process because we believe in it, because we create intent in our rituals. Either way, I choose the ritual and I believe in the magic.