What Tarot Deck Is Right For You?
One of the most exciting aspects of learning tarot can also be the most daunting: choosing your signature deck.
There are countless tarot decks available for purchase online and in stores, with some designs dating back centuries while others feature the work of contemporary artists.
Each deck carries a unique aesthetic and style of storytelling, from classical to neo-Pagan, with an energy and mythos to match.
So how do you know which deck is right for you?
Before we begin, it’s worth pointing out an oft-repeated tarot superstition that claims a tarot reader must never purchase their own deck of cards, but have them gifted from someone else. Needless to say you can take this with a pinch of salt.
If you do decide to err on the side of tradition, you can purchase your tarot deck and ask a friend to “gift” it to you in a symbolic gesture. Even better, give your friend the money, point out the deck you want, and ask them to make the purchase.
The easiest way to go about finding the tarot deck that’s right for you is to do some metaphorical window shopping. When perusing a store’s tarot deck inventory, carefully examine each design and take some time to see if you feel a connection to the cards.
Some images may immediately attract or repel you, and this is perfectly natural. A tarot reader must develop their personal style in alignment with the cards they choose to work with.
After all, the Devil may spell trouble for one tarot reader, but perhaps he is a harbinger of something more positive in your opinion? If this is the case, it would make sense to avoid particularly macabre tarot designs in favor of more uplifting depictions.
For example, the Visconti deck is one of the earliest known tarot decks, and is the perfect example of the medieval attitude towards divinatory symbolism. This may appear a bit heavy for some, hence the popularity of the Fairy and Rider Waite decks. If you’re looking to strike a balance, the Tarot de Marseilles is a beautiful blending of old imagery and modern sensibilities.
If possible (and always ask first), open the tarot decks and sift through the cards. Get a feel for how they work in your hands, if your intuition heightens or dulls upon viewing each image.
What is your initial reaction to each of the major and minor arcana cards? Do you feel a personal dialogue–however faint–forming between you and the cards? When you look at the Empress do you see a proud feminine force to be reckoned with, or merely a regally beautiful queen?
Do you giggle when you see the Fool, or feel a deep empathy for his flight of fancy & faith? If your impressions of a tarot deck are not filled with love and respect, by all means move on; as any tarot reader will attest, the cards only come alive in the hands of those they trust.
As you explore your tarot options, it’s also important to consider your level of experience. Certain tarot decks contain more obscure imagery or seemingly identical cards.
For example, due to their age, the reproduced images from the Visconti deck can be quite hard to decipher, with certain members of the arcana closely resembling one other. This may not pose a problem for seasoned pros–and don’t worry, you’ll get there!–but as a beginner it’s important that you know the cards like the back of your hand, with a minimal margin for error.
Next consider the size of the tarot cards. Certain decks run smaller than others, and depending on how you choose to use the cards you may want to take this into consideration.
If you are planning to read for large gatherings and public events, it may be worth your while to invest in larger-scale cards that can viewed with ease by your guest, thus adding to the experience.
Pay attention to the quality of the cards you are looking to purchase. Needless to say, a deck of tarot cards can run anywhere from $5 to $100. What you should really look for is whether or not they’ll hold up against hundreds of readings, shufflings, and back-and-forth travel.
The most crucial factor of tarot reading is intuition. You can select the most gorgeous tarot deck and memorize each card’s meaning back to back, but if you cannot connect with your cards on a psychic level then your readings will almost certainly fall short.
Take your time exploring the wonderful artwork of the tarot world, and trust that when the time is right the right deck will find YOU.