So, you’ve decided you want to learn tarot and you’re not sure where to start? Well, allow me to be your guide on this little series I am calling Tarot Tuesdays! In this series I will not only teach you the basics of tarot, but I will also be sharing spreads and reading techniques, as well as talking about other forms of card divination. A new Tarot Tuesday will be posted every 4 weeks (one month) with a new topic for discussion and learning.
Disclosure: Some of the links below contain affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions expressed are my own.
Today for our first Tarot Tuesday, I want to share with you my easy guide to finding a new tarot card deck. Now, this doesn’t just have to be your very first deck. These tips can apply to readers of all skill levels. The cards you pick to work with are just as important (if not more important) than learning the meanings of each card itself. Picking the right deck for you will not only help you learn the cards better, but will also help to improve your skills as a reader. So, without further ado, let’s get right into those tips!
Start With The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck
When you’re still green to tarot it’s generally suggested to start off with the Rider-Waite tarot deck. This deck was first published in 1910 and has since become the “go-to” deck when it comes to tarot. The images are very clean, straight forward, and easy to read. This is the deck which most modern tarot cards are based off of.
This deck is a great starter deck and is the deck that most people start off with. It is fairly inexpensive and easy to come by. It will give you a good, straight-forward start to reading tarot cards before you dive deeper into your tarot journey. If you just absolutely hate this deck, I suggest finding a deck which is directly styled after the Rider-Waite tarot cards. If you’re looking for a cute, modern, and magically driven deck you may want to look into the Everyday Witch tarot cards by Deborah Blake (author) and Elisabeth Alba (artist). These cards are modeled after the Rider-Waite deck but have a more updated look to them and cute black cats everywhere. I’ve found them very easy to work with and their art style tends to make people smile.
There are many variations of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, so many it’s nearly impossible to mention them all.
Consider Your Needs
Tarot cards come in a lot of different sizes, ranging from mini-pocket cards to large print on bigger cards. Modernly, if you can think of a theme, there’s probably a tarot for it! There’s even a Hello Kitty tarot deck! Narrowing it down to what will fit your needs will help make your choices easier.
Are you considering reading for others or just for yourself? Are you trying to begin or run a tarot reading business? Do you have a budget you would like to stick to? Are you looking to buy a new or used deck? Are to drawn to a specific colour? Do you require large print or bold images?
Write down a list of requirements for your new deck to help keep you on track. Really think about what you need to be comfortable. Even if your needs are simple and you’re not very picky; when it comes to tarot cards it’s good to be picky.
The Deck You Like Might Not Work For You ~ Be Sure To Look Thoroughly
This, sadly, happens all the time to readers of all experience levels; you buy a deck that you fell in love with and you start using it in your readings only to discover that it just doesn’t vibe with your style of reading. Sometimes, that connection just isn’t there.
I personally had this problem when I purchased the Deviant Moon tarot deck a couple years ago. I fell in love with its unique artwork and its darker feel. It was quirky, fun, and frightening all at the same time. However, when I started doing readings with the deck I realized that I was having a hard time translating what the cards were telling me. I kept having to look at the definitions booklet and I struggled to make sense of how all the cards fit together. Even though I had been reading tarot for many years at this time, I felt like I was starting from scratch all over again. I just didn’t have the right connection with that deck. (I did keep the deck because I do love it and I will use it occasionally.)
Luckily, we have the world at our finger tips now and information is just a Google search away. If a deck catches your eye, look up pictures of the deck and try to see both the major arcana and the minor arcana. While cards like The Fool are typically styled in the same fashion and can be easy to read, cards like the 8 of Wands might not be so easy to interpret if you don’t have the right imagery. To help you with this, find a good picture of a card from the minor arcana in the deck you are interested in. Now, try to surmise its meaning from just the image you see on the screen (no cheating! Don’t look up the meaning), try to put that meaning into different contexts and scenarios, and then do it again for another card from that deck. After you do that, try to imagine reading those two cards as if they were a two card spread, do the same thing you did to the individual cards. Can you understand them in a variety of contexts and situations? Does it make sense? If so, then you’ve likely got yourself a good deck!
If you cannot look through the images before buying the deck or if you received the deck as a gift, try the same exercise by randomly drawing out a couple cards. Since you have the deck on hand, you can use the little booklet to check yourself to see how close your interpretations were to the book definitions.
Your Deck Does NOT Need To Be Gifted
This “tradition” of the gifted tarot deck is fairly old but it certainly is not a necessity and no negative effects will come to you for purchasing your own deck. As stated in my previous tip, you have to vibe well with your deck, and only you can tell if you’re going to be able to do that. That being said, having a deck gifted to you isn’t bad either. If a friend or family member sees you eyeing up a particular deck and they choose to buy it for you as a gift, then by all means, enjoy the gift! I’ve often asked for decks as a Yule (Christmas) present or birthday present over the years.
However, I have seen people ask others (even strangers in online groups) to buy them a deck because it’s bad luck to buy your own. This exchange can’t be quid pro quo because according to this little tradition; it must be a gift to avoid the bad luck; you cannot do something in return for this gift or give the buyer the money to purchase the gift (because then it’s not a gift but an exchange). Which, needless to say, has lead to some faux pas in online groups.
Personally, I prefer to purchase my own decks. If there’s something I don’t like or if I end up not really using it I didn’t waste anyone else’s money but my own. Also, it allows me to gift that deck if I don’t have that special connection with the deck (which I have done). I have received a couple of decks as gifts and because they are gifts from people I care about they are special to me, though I may not use them as much. Sometimes you can get lucky with a gift, I was given the Ghosts and Spirits tarot deck and I absolutely love the art work on these cards. It’s not a deck I had on my wishlist or had even looked into, but it was definitely a lovely addition to my tarot family.
All in all, just know that no bad luck will befall you from buying your own deck. Order them online, get them from a bookshop, buy them off a friend, do a tarot swap, or get them from a second-hand store if you wish! There’s no judgment that will come upon you.
Trust Your Instincts and Personal Experiences
My best advicefor finding the deck is to find one that really speaks to you on an intuitive and/or a personal level. If you happen to find a deck that just calls to you for some inexplicable reason, get that deck. You don’ always need a reason, sometimes your intuition works harder than your rational mind. It’s really easy to ignore that call, and it’s okay to wait a bit to see if it’s not just a spur of the moment infatuation. But if you’re still thinking about that deck after doing some research and waiting maybe a few weeks, it’s safe to say you should go back and get it. If you leave a shop feeling disappointed that you didn’t get that deck, it might be your heart telling you what your head doesn’t want to hear.
Having a personal connection to your deck will also help you with your readings. Decks that draw on your life experiences or things that are deeply rooted in your person will be easier for you to interpret and relay to your quarrent (the person receiving the reading). Find something you are passionate about and search for a deck within that passion. You will likely find that your readings will improve.
I used to be a by-the-book reader and would go off of all the definitions provided in the booklets. I struggled between the discrepancies in the interpretations from one author to the next. Until I found the Buckland Romani Tarot Deck (as of this posting, this deck is out of print and sells for an extreme amount of money), my reading style and skill level changed drastically. I am half Romani and when I first saw this deck I was a skeptic, most things marketed as Romani (or “gypsy”) have nothing to do with Romani culture. However, this deck artistically played with a lot of Romani traditions which made the images easier for me to understand. This has been my main deck for many years, and I always kick myself for not buying a second copy in case anything happens to my deck. (Side note: I have now retired this deck from usage due to its exclusivity.)
Don’t Be Discouraged If You Don’t Find The Right Deck
Every tarot reader has a story about a deck that just didn’t live up to its expectations. We all have that one deck that was just kind of “blah”. If you happen to get a deck that isn’t just right, don’t toss it right away, it can still serve a purpose. These decks are great to use if you’re traveling or going somewhere which you might be worried about the safety of your deck. Accidents happen, and if you’ve ever been invited to read at someone’s Halloween party you know how scary it can really be when the drunk person with unsteady balance and a full red solo cup comes to your table demanding love advice. These deck are also good for general practice and can push you outside your comfort zone. People change all the time and you might find that the deck you hated 4 years ago might be just what you are looking for now. And, of course, you can always gift it to someone too if you so choose.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you and that they will guide you to your new favorite deck! Let me know your favorite deck in the comments of this post. What was the one deck you just didn’t connect with?
The next Tarot Tuesday topic will be Caring For Your Cards and What to do With Your New Deck and will be posted on July 31st