The Tarot Reader’s Calling-Card

People sometimes wonder what to do with “broken” Tarot decks, decks that have cards missing. I have a suggestion: why not use them as business cards? It is possible to buy A4 sheets of sticky-labels, and print your name and contact-details on them through your home computer if you don’t want to go to the trouble of having the sticky-labels professionally done by a printer.

In the mid-1990s, when I was reading Tarot in Gnostic Forest in Gosford, I used to work with a woman called Jay Wallace-Coates, and one of the things I remember very clearly about her was that she bought a particular deck other than the one she liked to use (the Haindl) specifically for use as business cards. It was Jay who pioneered the idea of writing her details on sticky labels and putting them on the backs of cards.

But rather than just issuing them as business cards, what Jay would do was to shuffle the remnants of the deck and get the person to pull a card randomly, and she’d give them a mini-interpretation of that card. It was quite a canny thing to do: the person would invariably tuck the card away carefully, now that it had been emotionally connected to them in some way.

Several years later, when I bought my copy of the Spiral Tarot, I found to my grief that the deck didn’t contain a fairly important card, and I didn’t see my way clear to keeping it as a working-deck. For some reason it didn’t even occur to me to approach the publisher and ask for a replacement to make up the deck, so out of my collection of decks, I had one which I could not use.

I started using it for “Tarot-bombing”: occasionally leaving a random card somewhere in public for someone to find and wonder about, and later remembered Jay and her unique business cards. Why not? The images in the Spiral deck, as in many decks, are evocative, colourful and interesting. And they are smaller than many other Tarot cards, making them convenient for carrying around, while interesting enough for someone to find a special place for them on their desk at work or under a fridge-magnet at home.

The Portuguese gentleman Le Fanu, described elsewhere as a “Tarot Guru” and certainly a likeable individual and an awesome collector of Tarot, took Jay’s idea from me when I talked about it, saying it was a great idea. He said: “We shall hand it down from generation to generation and a mini deck is the best. Authentic calling card size. Fits in wallets.”

He’s right, of course. In  my collection of eighty-some decks I have three  minis: the Manara, the Rider-Waite and the Visconti-Sforza. I don’t recall offhand who published the Manara, but the Rider-Waite was published by one company – US Games – whilst the Visconti-Sforza was published by another – Lo Scarabeo. All three companies chose to publish to exactly the same size specifications with these mini-editions, and they are, in fact, very similar in size to business cards.

So this post is a call to arms! I shall pick up my archangelic trumpet and blow a brassy blast through it to awaken Tarotistas all over the world to the publicity potential of broken decks or mini-decks! Sadly, I have recently invested in a large enough quantity of regular-type business cards to last me many months; but when I start running low, I will probably consider buying a few mini-decks and printing up some sticky-labels for their backs. They work out to be a little more expensive per card, but their great charm and character makes them – and you – much more memorable to their recipients.

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5 Responses to The Tarot Reader’s Calling-Card

  1. Alec Satin says:

    Hi Nisaba,
    Wonderful to learn this background. The first I had heard about this was in the series of tarot mysteries by David Skibbins. His main character Warren would take the main card of a reading, slap a label on it and hand it to the querent.

    My experience for the past 8 months of so in using mini decks with labels as cards (and with giving on the spot mini-readings) has been positive. Many people are surprised and touched to learn that they can keep the card. Even more interestingly, the one card readings seem to be very accurate. When done at the end of a paid reading, the card very often underscores the theme of the session.

    I’m going to check into the mini-decks you mentioned. The Sforza might be fun to use. I’ve been using the Jodorowsky Camoin Tarot de Marseille cards available from Alida.

    P.S. It made me chuckle to see Le Fanu quoted here, too. He’s a good guy and true lover of tarot.

  2. Nisaba, another great post of yours that I’ll know how to deal with my incomplete decks next time. It’ll be exciting to see the reactions of how people who gets those cards will be. Sadly enough to say, I haven’t come across one around my area who hands out tarot cards as their business cards. Something which I wouldn’t actually want is to have an incomplete deck but I wouldn’t actually mind spreading the beauty of tarot with people around here.

  3. adanatarot says:

    I was really considering this when I started thinking of reading professionally. I have a deck that I lost a card from, but I was a little leary because it was a card that I attribute my own persona to. (One of the cards, at least.) Also, the deck is rather dark and gothic, and I don’t want to give anyone the wrong impression. I also thought of using a deck of playing cards, since I’m rather interested in cartomancy. I think I’ll be buying a mini-deck soon, just for this purpose.

    Thanks for the post!

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