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Can You Use A Tarot Deck With Missing Cards?

    use a tarot deck with missing cards

    Yep, tarot readers often have a deep and personal relationship with their tarot decks.

    To them, their decks are an extension of their being that lets them access higher realms of existence. This is why they treat their decks with so much care and respect.

    However, despite all that, readers sometimes lose a few of the cards in their decks. ( one of my fears lol)

    As you can imagine, losing cards can cause a reader to become uneasy and upset. After all, it’s like losing little parts of yourself.

    On top of that, this fills them with so many questions. They wonder whether they can continue with the deck and what they should do next.

    So, can you use a tarot deck with missing cards?

    Technically speaking, yes, you can do so. But ideally, it’s better to have a complete deck. If you have been reading tarot cards for a while now, you probably already know why. A complete deck gives you a more complete picture of the question at hand, which lets you do accurate readings.

    Using A Tarot Deck With Missing Cards

    rider waite tarot deck

    A deck with missing cards is like having a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing.

    Sure, you can still go ahead and solve the puzzle, and you can understand what the end picture is all about.

    But something in your heart feels incomplete. It doesn’t allow you to be completely satisfied, even though the job is technically done.

    Similarly, when someone comes to you with a query, you can help them with the remaining cards. And you might even be able to give them the exact answer they seek. However, as a reader, you’ll probably feel like there was a piece of you missing in that reading. And that may cause uneasiness.

    There might also be times when the missing card turns out to be the missing link that could have solved the query. It is in times like these that you realize that using a complete deck is better. But again, if you don’t have a choice for whatever reason, you can definitely use decks with missing cards.

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    Understanding Why Your Cards Went Missing

    When you lose some of your cards, it is important to understand why that happened.

    Sure, it could just be a random incident with no real meaning attached to it.

    However, it could also be a symbolic event that is meant to teach you something. ( I know I tend to find a explanation or a hidden message to anything haha)

    Maybe the cards themselves want to communicate something to you.

    So, to understand the possible hidden meaning behind losing a card, you should first see which card/cards you lost. Then, ponder on their individual and collective meanings.

    For example, if you lose the “Five of Wands” card, it might mean that you need to pay more attention to the conflicts and tensions in your life. It could also be a sign that you need to strengthen your relationships because there are possibilities of conflicts in the future. This could be a really urgent message since the card had to get lost in order to get your attention!

    Another thing you can do to understand why your cards were lost is to see how you treated them. Did you handle them with care? Did you treat them with respect and love? Did you cleanse them thoroughly after every reading? Did you store them in a safe place?

    If you were careless while handling your cards, it’s not a surprise that they might have gotten lost. ( ok that was so obvious but I had to write it down haha)

    Bonding With Your Cards

    tarot with crystals and sage for the ritual

    As I said above, tarot decks are really meaningful and sacred objects for any reader.

    But you should still constantly try and strengthen your bond with your cards. It’s like any other relationship, where, if you take care of the other person, they will not want to leave you. ( eah I know it is a big stretch… but hey this is how I see my cards haha)

    Similarly, if you pay special attention to the cards, the chances of misplacing them or losing them will lessen. To that end, here are some of the things you can do.

    1) Get To Know The Cards

    Right from the day you get your deck, you should make sure to spend some time with the cards every day. Again, it’s like getting to know a person. Y

    ou start from scratch and try to figure out what they are all about by asking questions and paying attention to what they say.

    As far as the cards are concerned, each deck has its own personality. And you can do a reading and ask the deck what it is like!

    Slowly, over time, you will not only understand how your cards work better, but you will also develop a strong two-way relationship with them. This will take your readings to a whole other level because of the synergy that’s created over time.

    2) Show Appreciation Toward The Cards

    Many readers tend to use their cards only for readings.

    And you might think that there is nothing wrong with this. However, in my opinion, we should consider the fact that there are meaningful and sacred energies involved in the use of tarot cards.

    So, it’s not like using a non-living tool for a specific purpose. It’s more like consulting a friend or a wise ancestor.

    So, in addition to using the cards for reading, you should also show appreciation for all that they do for you. You could hold them in your hands and literally thank them for being there for you. You could also hold them while meditating and feel gratitude for having them in your life.

    It is little things like these that will make the cards want to stick around.

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    3) Cleanse Them And Store Them Properly

    Cleansing is an important part of using tarot cards. After each reading, you should make sure to cleanse them in whatever way you’re most comfortable with. This ensures that they don’t hold any residual energies from the reading. This is important because sometimes, a particularly heavy reading might cause one or two cards to get lost.

    Also, you can use cleansing as a way to strengthen your bond with the cards. During the process, you can stay mindful of the symbolism, colors, meaning, and overall significance of each card. You can even visualize them getting refreshed and ready for the next reading.

    7 Reasons You Shouldn’t Use An Incomplete Deck

    As I mentioned above, you can use a tarot deck with missing cards. It can more or less get the job done in a lot of cases.

    However, as a tarot reader, it is important to have complete knowledge of the cards and what you should and shouldn’t do with them. As such, let’s talk about some important reasons why using an incomplete deck might not be ideal.

    1) It Can Lead To Incomplete Storytelling

    As I mentioned above, having a deck with missing cards is like having a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces. Another way you can look at it is having a book with a few missing pages. Sure, you can go ahead and read the book anyway. And you might even understand it.

    But you will always wonder what you missed in those pages. It could also be that you missed an important piece of information that could have added more depth to a character or more meaning to the overall story.

    Similarly, using an incomplete tarot deck can lead to incomplete storytelling. You might be able to help the querent to a degree, but vital information might still be missing. And without a doubt, it makes your job as a reader a little bit harder.

    2) Missing Symbolism Can Lead To Misinterpretation

    Every tarot reader knows that tarot reading is all about symbolism.

    Even the slightest bit of symbol, diagram, color, or object in a card can lead to a huge realization. Often, it is these realizations that lead to profound readings.

    So, you can imagine what would happen if you have a whole card missing, or worse, multiple cards missing in a deck. Think about the sheer amount of information that wouldn’t be available to you for readings. It would be like going on a mission without knowing anything about the terrain or your opponents!

    Let’s take an example to understand this better. Let’s say someone asks you how they can solve their relationship issues. Now, if you have a deck that has missing cards like The Lovers, Four of Wands, Two of Cups, etc., how are you supposed to know what the cards want to say? It would be like deleting certain words from the cards’ vocabulary! How will they communicate properly?

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    3) The Energy Flow Might Get Disrupted

    Another important aspect of any tarot reading is energy.

    It’s how the reader connects with the cards and understands their messages. It is also how the reader is able to ask guardian angels or other spiritual beings for help during a reading.

    Now, if a deck has certain cards missing, it is only obvious that the energy flow will get impaired. In this case, the cards act as a circuit for the proper flow of spiritual energy. And if some cards are missing, the circuit will be incomplete. As such, the reader might not feel the same smoothness or intensity of energy as before.

    This will greatly reduce your connection with the cards and make the reading much harder. The end result would be inaccurate readings, misinterpretations, frustration, contradictory messages, and so on. Some tarot readers even begin questioning their abilities as readers.

    4) Lack of In-Depth Insights

    Tarot reading is a very subtle art.

    The symbolism used in the cards is so detailed and rich that you can draw any number of messages from them. And when you’re doing a multiple-card spread, you can combine the meanings of various cards to go really in-depth with your reading.

    This provides the querent with a lot of valuable insights that are nuanced as well as relevant to their situation. However, if the deck has some missing cards, you might not be able to provide such in-depth insights. Your ability as a tarot reader will be limited to the cards you have with you.

    Sure, you can use your intuition and still make do with the cards you have. However, it is undeniable that the more information you have, the more you are able to explore the complex aspects of the situation.

    5) Incomplete Decks May Be Less Versatile

    As a tarot reader, you might get approached by all sorts of people from various walks of life. Also, they might have queries relating to a wide variety of situations and aspects of life.

    You might get queries about their career, finances, relationships, purpose of life, health, spirituality, personal development, religion, and even about the nature of reality!

    Truly, the types of questions that you can get asked are limitless. And this is why it is important to use a deck that has all the cards in it. You know it well, different cards in a deck have different meanings. And some cards might be more relevant for a certain situation or aspect of life than others.

    Therefore, only when you have the complete set you can adapt to various situations and questions. Missing cards can limit your deck’s versatility, making it less suitable for addressing a wide range of concerns and queries.

    6) Disrupted Relationship With The Deck

    In the world of tarot, the relationship between a reader and their deck is everything in my opinion.

    It serves as a foundation of all their readings and allows them to tap into the subtle spiritual energy around them. The stronger this relationship, the more accurate the readings are.

    I mentioned above that you should look at your tarot deck as a friend or a wise ancestor. And this is exactly what a lot of tarot readers do. They hold their cards in high regard and feel as though they are a part of themselves. This is also why so many tarot readers like to carry their tarot cards with them wherever they go.

    Now imagine if some of the cards of this deck go missing. This itself changes the equation of the relationship. Suddenly, you have bits and pieces of energy missing from that vital bond. The remaining cards aren’t able to reciprocate your energies and emotions like they used to before.

    7) It Limits Your Growth As A Tarot Reader

    Being a tarot reader is not a destination, it is a journey.

    No matter how many years you have under your belt or how many readings you’ve done, there will always be room for improvement and growth. This is how most things work in life, don’t they?

    So, when it comes to tarot, having a complete deck with whom you have a strong bond can constantly help you grow as a reader. It’s like having your guardian angel with you at all times who is ready to provide you with wisdom and suggestions whenever you ask.

    However, if you have a deck with missing cards, you won’t be able to use it to its fullest extent.

    As I talked about above, it might lead to inaccurate readings or a complete misinterpretation of a given situation. This can have a negative effect on your confidence as a reader. It can also become a roadblock in your journey to becoming a better tarot reader.

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    Things To Remember While Using Such A Deck

    tarot cards on a table

    Having said all of the above, I don’t want to discourage you from using a deck with missing cards if you have to.

    I understand that there are times when you can’t simply go and get another deck especially if it is out of print…. After all, searching for the right deck is a process of its own and that might take some time and effort.

    Also, the deck that you’re currently using might have some sentimental value. So, you might not want to stop using it. For such times, here are a few things you could remember while using a deck with missing cards.

    1) Adapt and Modify The Spreads

    As a reader, you might like using some spreads more than others. Or you might have fixed spreads for different types of situations or questions. This works well when you have a complete set of cards. However, when your deck is missing some cards, you might need to adapt and modify the spreads you use.

    For example, traditional tarot spreads like the Celtic Cross were designed keeping in mind a complete set. Even though this spread needs only 10 cards, and you might have more than enough cards to fill these positions, the energy of the entire deck matters while doing this spread. In other words, this spread requires the energy of all the cards working in harmony for it to work properly.

    Obviously, this means that you would need to adapt and modify your spreads.

    To that end, you could use smaller spreads or even create your own layouts that are based on your intuition. You could also design spreads that emphasize the strengths of the cards you still have. At the end of the day, you can find a way to make it work.

    2) Sharpen Your Intuition

    Every tarot reader knows that intuition is one of the greatest abilities you can have to become a great reader. Your intuition can figure out things that your logical or conscious mind cannot even comprehend.

    When it comes to tarot reading, it can allow you to understand the hidden meaning of the cards, the real question that the querent wants to ask, the solution to a given problem, a better understanding of the problem at hand, and even information that the querent isn’t telling you.

    Naturally, the sharper your intuition, the better readings you can do. This becomes particularly important when you have cards missing from your deck. In this case, your intuition can fill in the blanks and help you use your inner wisdom while interpreting the remaining cards.

    So, make sure you practice sharpening your intuition skills. Things like meditation, mindfulness, yoga, crystal healing, reiki, physical exercise, journaling, and trusting yourself can help a lot.

    3) Use Substitute Cards

    This is a straightforward solution if you have a deck with missing cards.

    You could substitute the missing ones with other cards. You can do this in a number of ways. First, you could use cards from another deck and put them in your current one. This is especially helpful if you have two decks with missing cards, or have one that you rarely use. Basically, you can combine two decks to create a complete one.

    Second, you can make your own substitute cards. This adds a personal touch to the deck. For example, if your deck is missing the “Seven of Cups” card, you could make one by yourself. Obviously, this will involve drawing and coloring on your part, but if you want that personal feel, you can definitely go for it. But make sure that you make an exact copy of the original card.

    Also, no matter which method you use, make sure that you integrate the new card’s energy with the entire deck. This will require you to cleanse the cards, meditate with them, and use visualization to see them as one.

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    4) Dive Deeper Into The Symbolism of The Cards

    To take a more positive approach, you could see the missing cards as an opportunity rather than a setback.

    You could think of them as a unique aspect of your deck that adds a personal touch to your readings. And you can use this situation to become a better reader.

    For example, to compensate for the missing cards, you could deepen your understanding of the symbolism of all the remaining cards in your deck. Each card carries its unique energy and significance and by studying the symbolism of the cards, you can still provide meaningful readings.

    For example, if the “Three of Swords” is missing, you could focus on its symbolic aspects – heartbreak, pain, and healing – in the other cards you draw.

    This will help you become a much better tarot reader since your knowledge and understanding of the deeper symbolism of the cards will greatly be enhanced.

    5) Only use Minor or Major Arcana Cards

    Let’s say you lost a few minor arcana cards, then you could simply use only the major cards of this deck. Or the other way around if you lost a major arcana card.

    Many tarot readers use only the major arcana cards and with great success…

    The rule is simple: just do what feels right 🙂

    This is just an alternative you could explore to cope with a deck with missing cards. It can be challenging for sure but it really helps flex your tarot skills and muscles to the fullest hahah.

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