As I continue to work with Tarot, I'm realizing that like any other spirit work, process is as important as creativity.
One of the things that continue to evolve is my environment, or rather the way I create and open the space physically, spiritually, and mentally for a reading, even for myself. Space creation is vital to me because not only is it a centering and clarifying exercise, it's also meant as a protective measure from interference- physical, spiritual, or mental.
I'm realizing that I like beginning by clearing the area I'm working in. I can't work in a cluttered or messy space, though a familiar enough 'neat mess' is ideal for comfort in my own space. After, I then gather my materials, which is more than the cards I now realize and begin.
I lay down a cloth of sentimental and spiritual association over a large enough, and place my cards, stones, sage, and incense. I've recently felt a call to incorporate the elements so nowadays I fill a glass or candle holder with water and pour some sea salt (particularly the kind with trace minerals) in it (earth and water). Then I float a tealight in the water and light it (fire).
To more explicitly call for the air element, I light some incense and let the smoke waft over. I rub some protective essential oil blends on my hands and set up my crystals and stones- my standard crystals are selenite, fluorite, and isis point quartz. I then include the stones that live with the deck in the grid and other stones depending on what I'm seeking out at the moment.
And I'm ready!
It seems like a lot, but it's really just a series of steps that gets me to the mind and spirit space I need to be in. There's something about the ways it delineates space and focuses me on the task.
At some point in the middle of all this my roommate's cat wanders over and tries to get her nose in everything before lounging on my lap rather inconveniently. I've always been into cat familiars though, so I think she's just doing her job within the space set up :)