How to Recycle a Broken Tarot Deck

I recently lost a tarot card out of a deck I loved. I pulled the deck out of my trunk after I was unpacking from an event. I went through the cards and realized immediately something was wrong. I counted and alas, only 77. I separated the Major and Minor Arcana and knew just by looking, the Moon had disappeared. While disappointed, as I love reading this deck, I wasn’t completely heart broken because I know broken decks can be used in so many ways.

The Robin Wood deck is sadly not the first deck I’ve had problems with being broken. I’ve had decks given to me missing cards, I’ve bought decks used that are damaged, and I’ve had pets decide to do a little tarot reading of their own that has caused card damage. At first I was embarrassed to talk about the decks with other readers and I tucked them away in hopes of going back to them months later and they magickally develop that missing card or their tears and coffee stains be mended. 
I then realized that this was folly all its own and that the tarot can be used for so much more than just a traditional reading! This came to me when I was looking at a piece of furniture and wanting to do something to it to make it look spooky-magickal…like add tarot! A tarot deck is considered broken when it is 1) damaged or 2) missing at least one card. 
Broken here means that the deck cannot be read in the traditional fashion. 

If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
Make sure that the deck is broken. If it is missing a card, set the deck aside for a week or so and set your manifestation into gear to find the missing card. This has worked for me a number of times and usually the card shows up in the most random place. 
If the deck is damaged, do a thorough assessment and decide if its unusable in the traditional sense. Is it just one card? Would you still be comfortable reading for someone else with this deck, even if it isn’t professionally? Are you still able to read for yourself? Maybe this deck just needs to be handled with care and set aside for personal use only. 
Don’t dismantle or give up on your deck when it isn’t too late. 
As I developed this concept of non-traditional card use, I looked online and realized there are many, many readers who have broken decks ( I am not alone! gasp!) and are looking for something to do with them! I began compiling ideas and here is the fruit of my labor:

Create a Major Arcana Deck
If the lost or damaged cards are part of the Minor Arcana only, the Major Arcana cards can still be used in readings. Some types of readings and spreads, especially ones focusing on the spiritual aspects of life, use only the trump cards. 

Oracle Deck
I know of some readers who continue to read their broken decks but as more of an oracle deck. They take out the damaged cards (or leave out the missing cards) and also take out any cards they don’t resonate with or want in the deck. They then use the remaining cards as oracle cards, each representing a different intuitive message for them. 

Playing Cards
If you lose a Major Arcana card you can still use the pips and some of the court cards in a unique playing card deck. Playing decks have 52 cards consisting of 4 Aces, the pip cards 2-10 in each suit, and the Kings, Queens, and either the Knights or the Pages  as the playing card Jacks. 
Imagine playing poker with this deck!

Spell Cards
Use what cards are not missing or damaged for spells, manifestation, rituals, or meditations and pathworking. 

  • If you still have the 4 aces and like to use them to call the Quarters in ritual work, consider framing them or putting them in your magickal tool chest for that purpose in the future. 
  • Set aside the Emperor and the Empress or the Sun and the Moon to represent the Goddess and the God on the altar. 
  • Add the 4 of swords or the Moon to a dream pillow or satchet for rest or psychic dreams. 
  • Tape the Lovers card over the glass candle holder for the focus of a relationship aid spell. 

There are endless possibilities. 

Magickal Artwork & Decor
One of my favorite ways of using a broken deck is in art. 
The biggest piece of my tarot art is my tarot table. It started out as a cube steamer trunk to which I collaged the cards from my broken Jane Austen tarot deck. This is now an altar in my home and at events on which I do my tarot readings for clients and myself. There is a lot of tarot energy and my own personal mojo in this table and I love it.  Use The Remainder in Business
If you’re a professional tarot reader and one of your decks is broken, you can always re-purpose the cards to use in your business.

  • Turn the remainders in to special business cards for top rate clients. 
  • Paste them on your sign advertising your readings.
  • Turn them into price tags for any other items you sell like tarot bags or boxes. 

So the next time you’re going through your deck and find you only have 77 cards or your cat has gotten a hold of the High Priestess, again, don’t despair right away! Those cards are still full of purpose and spiritual juice to be used in your magickal life!
Tarot Blessings,

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