Are Your Tarot Cards In Order?

UPDATE November 5, 2011: I’ve been getting a lot of hits on “Tarot card order” so I’ll lay it out, so to speak. The Major Arcana should be fairly simple, Fool – The World (they’re numbered, after all), then it’s typically Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles, all starting with the Ace, then numerical order, and then the court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King, or whatever the equivalent is in your deck (Pages are often Princesses, or Daughters. In the Crowley Thoth deck Kings are called “Knights” and Knights are called “Princes.” You should have gotten at least a ‘little white book’ (LWB) with your deck to refer to. If not and you still have questions, feel free to leave a comment or drop me an email at fillingspaces at


This post was inspired by a search string that brought someone to my blog today, specifically “put tarot cards back in order?” I assume the person wanted to know if this was a necessary act after each reading, or to somehow ‘cleanse’ the cards.

The short answer to whether or not you need or put the cards back in the original order is ‘no.’

You do not need to do anything. You don’t need to keep them wrapped in silk, you don’t need to cleanse them in moonlight, or sleep with them under your pillow, or any of the other things a lot of  beginner books tell you to do. If it makes you feel good, by all means, feel free, but the only things that will make you a better reader are studying and practicing. One of the books I read when I first took up Tarot said it was necessary to put them in order after EVERY SINGLE READING to cleanse them of any leftover psychic vibrations from the previous querent. Egads, ask any professional reader if they have time for that. My  money’s on ‘Pfffft.’

Now, despite that, I do think it can be a beneficial part of the learning process to reorder the cards.   It’s the time spent handling them, looking at them, thinking about the order they fall in that can lead to greater insights. Every time you set the Major Arcana in order, from the Fool to the Universe, you mentally take the Fool’s Journey, beginning to end. I did this for a long time when I first started reading cards, but have long since quit doing it after every reading. I like my cards more randomized when I start shuffling for the next reading. Starting from square one again every time doesn’t allow for enough variance, unless you spend a whole lot more time shuffling than I do. I will still do it occasionally, and spend some time thinking about each card but I no longer feel it necessary to do on a regular basis.

Until you’re more familiar with the cards, it probably is a good exercise to reorder them, at least once in awhile. Knowing all cards, in order, has its benefits. For one thing, if you run across a deck that has no titles or numbers on the cards (and they’re out there), you can probably tell from the illustration which card it is.  Also, if you start learning elemental dignities, knowing the order of the cards and the suits can aid interpretation. For instance, if you know the minor arcana go Wands-Cups-Swords-Pentacles, you will know that the Knight of Pentacles is Air of Earth, the Queen of Cups is Water of Water, and so on. This can be very helpful.

The main thing is, do your own thing. If it helps you to create these little rituals before reading, then go right ahead. Just know that not everyone does everything the same, and that’s ok. My methods of doing things will be different from yours, and even mine have changed over time as I’ve learned more and become more comfortable with the cards. And they still ‘work.’


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Monica says:

    Never heard of this until now. Therefore, I do not order/reorder my cards. I do smudge them and keep them in a beautiful bag, but that is about it. And I also bought my own first deck 🙂 and most of the ones I currently use, actually he he. Blessings.

  2. Digital Dame says:

    You don’t see this as much as other “rules” about Tarot, but I do remember reading it in a book way back when I first started studying. And then someone hit my blog with that search string the other day, so apparently that little bit of ‘advice’ is still making the rounds.

    My first deck was a gift, and I’ve received just a couple of others as gifts over the years, but the vast majority of the decks I own I have purchased myself. Every once in a while that question crops up in a newsgroup, whether or not all decks must be given to you. I remember one person who also had somehow gotten the notion that decks must be STOLEN!! The group quickly put the kibosh on that idea. :-/

  3. Kim says:

    My mother passed away when I was 12 yrs. old. She left behind many things, but the the Tarot Cards she read are what I still have to this day, and I am 45 years old now, alot of moves and storage units, etc etc, along the way, so it is really amazing that I still have (had) them. Recently I was betrayed by a friend, which is still an ongoing court thing, but while I was gone she went through my Tarot Cards, she put one of them in a book of mine, and after counting them, there is yet one other missing. Now, regardless of whatever else may turn out to be stolen, this, in particular, disturbs me very much……I will keep looking around, but in your opinion, what does this mean? I read them at least monthly and consulted them when a major change in my life was coming, sometimes the ‘called’ to me, to read them. Which is how she found out about them. She has turned out to be someone that I thought I knew, but now regret ever meeting…..Can you offer me any advice on this matter? Are the cards useless, with one missing? Do you think she will get what she deserves for what she has done? Thanks For Listening…Kim Bardwell

  4. Digital Dame says:

    Hi Kim,

    I think it means your former friend either tossed one, took it with her, or hid it someplace like the one you found in the book. Or it could simply be misplaced. Depending on which card is missing I would probably be less inclined to continue using the deck. If it’s a major arcana, I’d have a hard time using the deck. If it’s a minor arcana, it wouldn’t bother me as much. There are enough cards and permutations of meanings that the loss would probably not be felt. It must be a very old deck, maybe it’s time to retire it and get a new one? I understand this deck has sentimental value for you, which may be all the more reason to have an alternate deck.

    As for this woman, whether or not she ‘gets what she deserves’ I have no idea. It sounds like she has a lot of issues in her life already, perhaps she feels she’s already being punished in some way.

    I do hope you find the wayward card.

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