There are hundreds of decks to choose from with more
on the way. So many decks, so little time.
At the beginning of your tarot journey, you may find it
overwhelming to have to learn to learn card meanings
from so many decks. If you are an old hand at tarot,
you may be ready to venture into new territory and
expand your knowledge to include different traditions.
Luckily for tarot enthusiasts, there are so many good
choices! Many decks are reasonably priced but some can
be quite pricy. So here are some things you may want to
consider when you are shopping for a deck.
Pick a System
Beginners might want to choose a traditional deck like
the Rider-Waite-Smith, which is the one we work with in
our classes. Many modern tarot decks are variations on
this classic deck, and learning the RWS can provide a
solid foundation for working with the others.
The Tarot de Marseilles and Crowley's Thoth Tarot
are other seminal decks which follow different traditions.
They have also inspired adaptations.
When you are comfortable with one tradition, you may
want to branch out to a deck that appeals to your
personal taste in art or themes. You will not find it
difficult to transfer the meanings you have already
learned, although there can be many layers of meaning
for any card.
Consider the size of the deck. This becomes important
when you read for others. Many querents are visual and
will want to see the cards as you interpret. If the
images are too small or dark they may pick up the
cards, which means they get handled more. The size of
your hands and how the cards feel when you shuffle is
something to thing about as well. Large cards may be
great for teaching but cumbersome when shuffling.
This brings up another point. In choosing a reading
deck, you will want to purchase a deck that feels
durable enough for regular use. If you are "earth
conscious," consider decks that are printed using
green methods such as soy-based inks or recycled card
The Art of Tarot
The most important consideration in choosing a reading
deck is to see how well the images convey what you want
Get to know the artists and deck creators. Many of them
attend conferences and have websites, mailing lists or
blogs that discuss card meanings, new projects, etc.
Are you a collector of decks? Even if you weren't
intending to be, you may find that you came to own more
decks than you planned. Some of these may even be rare
or special editions not intended for everyday use.
These decks can increase in value over time. Purchasing
decks, like purchasing fine art, can become an
investment, and well-kept or sealed decks can be
Regardless of what you do with it, you'll recognize a
good personal deck if it feels good in your hands,
pleases your eye, your mind, and your unconscious.