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How To Cleanse Your Tarot Cards With Incense

    Do you want to learn how to cleanse your Tarot cards with the help of incense? In this article, I share all the insights you need to feel confident cleansing your cards.

    Cleanse your Tarot cards by letting the deck run through the smoke from the incense. While doing this ritual, set the intention for your cleansing. Use an incense stick, cone, loose incent, smudge, or essential oil diffuser. Common incense for cleansing is White Sage, Frankincense, or Palo Santo.

    If your readings start to feel wonky or off, it might be time to cleanse your Tarot deck. Residual energies from readings or your surroundings might attach to the cards and lead to inaccurate readings. Cleansing your deck with the help of incense is very common among Tarot readers and easy to do. 


    Incense is an aromatic blend of herbs and other biotic materials. When burnt, the incense creates fragrant smoke. This smoke cleanses your Tarot cards and helps you eliminate unwanted residual energies attached to your cards (or you!). 

    Incents have been used throughout history as a part of religious and ceremonial rituals. Nowadays, it is used in non-ceremonial ways as well, as home fragrances and scents and aromatherapy. 

    Tarot card cleansing ritual with incense 

    1. Burn your incense (stick, cone or loose incense).
    2. Pick up your Tarot deck.
    3. Set a clear intention for the cleansing. 
    4. Fan the cards.
    5. Slowly let the smoke run through the cards.
    6. Stop when your intuition tells you to.
    7. Place the cards on the table or your sacred area.
    8. Close your eyes and smell the aroma.
    9. Imagine unwanted energy falling off like dust. 
    10. You and your cards are now cleansed.

    Even though incents traditionally are burnt organic material, I added essential oil diffusers to the list, as they are popular and commonly used with traditional incents. The steam from the essential oil burner acts the same as a conventional incent stick or cone smoke.

    The cleansing is very quickly done. You hold your Tarot deck in one hand and let it pass through the smoke from the incent. If you like to, you can fan the cards so that the smoke runs through all the cards. The origin of the smoke is of no importance; you can use a stick, cone, loose incents, smudge stick, or essential oil burner. 

    The incents come in different shapes and forms: 

    • Sticks
    • Cones
    • Loose incents
    • Smudges
    • Essential oil diffusers (if you are sensitive to smoke)
    Fan the cards in your hand
    Fan the cards in your hand

    The most important thing to remember is to set the intent for the cleansing. Without a clear intention, the cleansing will have less to no effect. 

    Let the smoke run over the cards or deck. Hold the incense with one hand, fan the cards and slowly move the burning incent under the cards/deck.

    There are lots of different incents for cleansing a Tarot card deck. The most commonly used are:

    • White Sage
    • Frankincense
    • Palo Santo

    The most important thing when cleansing your Tarot card deck is to set a clear intent. Without a clear intention, the cleansing will have less or no effect.

    Sandra Tornroth
    My two favorite essential oils for cleansing cards
    My two favorite essential oils for cleansing cards

    Remember, though, that intent is more important than the type of incense you use. As Tarot is no set science, you have the freedom to explore your favorites and create your rituals. Use your intention to discover which incense works best for you and your energies. 

    My personal favorites are, for example, Frankincense and Clary Sage. Below you find my favorite cleansing ritual – it is super-easy and perfect for beginners. 

    Tarot card cleansing ritual with an essential oil diffuser 

    1. Start your essential oil diffuser.
    2. Add three drops of essential oil.
    3. Pick up your Tarot deck.
    4. Set a clear intention for the cleansing. 
    5. Fan the cards.
    6. Slowly let the fume run through the cards.
    7. Stop when your intuition tells you to.
    8. Place the cards in your sacred area.
    9. Close your eyes and smell the aroma.
    10. Imagine all unwanted energy falling off like dust. 
    11. You and your cards are now cleansed. 
    12. Turn off your essential oil diffuser.

    One of my personal favorites is the essential oil mixtures, where you get several herbs in one go. You don’t have to mix anything, very handy.

    I often mix Clary Sage and Frankincense or White Sage and Paolo Santo. Below you find a wonderful mixture that I recommend from Amazon. If you want to try the traditional White Sage smudge or incense cone I added my favorite as well. All the links below go to Amazon. 

    White Sage smudge
    All the links below go to Amazon

    An essential oil burner with tea lights is very cozy and budget-friendly. You don’t need those expensive electrical ones. I use one like these for my essential oil cleansing ritual. Add a little water and your favorite essential oil and you are ready to start cleansing. I use them for my readings as well, to enhance my intuition. 

    How to set a clear intention? Well, it is straightforward. Ask the Universe to cleanse your cards and protect you from any energies that might hinder or harm you. Ask the Universe to clear the deck so that you can receive messages you need to hear.

    Intention Prayer 

    I dedicate this Tarot deck to guide me on my journey through Life. Please protect me from negative energies or messages hindering me from seeing, feeling, or hearing my Highest Truth. I beg of you, Divine Universe, to cleanse this Tarot deck and help me open my heart to receive the messages I need to hear.  

    There is no single type of spirituality associated with the Tarot, so there is no equivalent to “The Lord’s Prayer” or alike.

    Feel free to create your intention prayer or use mine to get started. You can’t go wrong if it comes from the heart. It’s where the energy lies.


    The most common incents for clearing a Tarot deck are White Sage, Palo Santo, and Frankincense. But there are other alternatives as well. As there are no set rules for the Tarot, feel free to try what incense you feel most connected to. 

    I polled the “Tarot” subreddit to learn what peers used in their cleansing rituals. Show 102550100 entriesSearch:

    IncenseTarot Readers
    Sage or White Sage10
    Paolo Santo5

    The most important among the Tarot readers was to set an intention for the cleansing. That was more important than choosing the “right” incense.

    One interesting recommendation from the subreddit was to use Frankincense in Europe, as the energies were more used than Sage. There are cultural differences in the use of herbs that might impact the efficiency of incense. 

    Tarot cards...jpg


    It is ok to create a personal ritual and use the incents you feel most connected to. There are no do’s or don’t in the Tarot.

    Let your intuition guide you; you know when you have cleansed your cards, and they are free from residual energies. You will feel it; trust your gut feeling.

    If you are new to Tarot, my recommendation is to try different incents. In that way, you can form your own opinion on what works best for you and your reading style.

    Sandra Törnroth

    Intuitive multi-modal tarot reader with a love for crystals and everything esoteric


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