I try to do a daily tarot card reading. I also travel a fair amount for work. This means I am on the road a lot with a deck, doing reading far away from my peaceful bedroom mediation altar. I’ve discovered a few tips to help with keeping up a tarot practice or your study of tarot while away from home, and want to share them with you.
Size matters. It really is worth your time to seek out a small deck. Don’t even try to take a normal deck on the road with you. The weight of a full size Voyager or Collective Tarot is enough to make it a problem on my frequent carry-on only trips. Also, you don’t want to take a precious deck in a suitcase. Sometimes (no, make that always!) when you travel you bend, drop, or spill on things.
Subtlety matters. I have a few decks with lots of lovely naked people on them. I have a few that are dark and have violent or disturbing imagery. I don’t even want to think about what a TSA agent is going to make of the Deviant Moon.
Secrecy matters. You want to keep your daily practice secret and the deck out of site. I do have family that, if they knew I had tarot cards in my bag, would dis-invite me to Thanksgiving dinner for the foreseeable future. Also, I often travel and have to share a hotel room with a total stranger. (I work in education, and sharing a room at a conference saves money.) They have no idea that I have a tarot deck in my bag, and have never seen me do a daily reading. Everyone has to take a shower some time and that’s long enough for me to breathe deep, shuffle the cards, and do a daily reading.
Speed matters. Because I am often hiding my cards I will do a reading, snap a picture with my phone, and then immediatly put the cards away. This lets me have an image of the card to look at later, in relative privacy. It’s also a great way to record several days of readings in a way that does not require me to take along my larger tarot diary.
Simplicity matters. I have several decks that are small, including a Robin Wood deck I cut the borders off and a small version of the Thoth. Both are lovely and easy to shuffle, but aren’t quite what I need on the road. The deck I love for travel is small, compact, and light. It also has simple imagery. The Chariot, as you can see in the picture, is a person riding a bicycle. Simple does not mean reductive, or lacking. This deck captures the impact of the card, without reducing the imagery to nonsense.
Where did I get a deck that meets all of these criteria? I got it in the check-out-line at my local big-box bookstore. (Tarot: The Complete Kit by Dennis Fairchild for Running Press Book Publishers.) It’s one of those “Mega Mini Kits” that comes in the little box like so many desk sandboxes or tiny tic-tac-toe games. It’s a gag, a joke, a gift for the sake of a gift. It was not expensive – perhaps the cheapest deck I ever purchased.
Special matters. I keep this deck in a small pouch. It’s big enough to hold the deck, my meditation mala, as well as a few good luck charms and a hanky I douse with Safe Travels oil before every trip. The pouch now smells distinct and familiar, and opening it up is like suddenly creating a small altar – the hanky serving as a boundary between my deck and the hotel coverlet, or the conference room table. I am grounded by the familiar items and smells, and it helps me to focus as I do the reading.
Last but not least, Silence Matters. When I travel, it is often to conferences or family gatherings. This is hard on my introverted soul. So the few moments of quiet reflection I get for a daily reading make all the difference in the world and are worth the hassle of traveling with a deck. I hope these tips make it possible for you to keep up your tarot practice, and find that kind of peace while traveling.