5 Tips for Picking the Perfect Tarot Deck
If you’re new to tarot (or even a veteran reader), it can sometimes be challenging to choose the perfect deck. There are so many decks available, and picking one to learn from, or to read for others from, can be overwhelming. Here are five tips to help you choose a deck with confidence.
Level of Knowledge
If you’re just starting to read tarot, you may want to choose a deck that follows the Rider-Waite tradition. This means that there will be twenty-two major cards and four suits. Each suit will have ace through ten cards and four court cards.
You may also want to look for cards that illustrate the card number of their suit. For example, the six of cups would have six cups illustrated on the card. Having six cups shown on the card can help you remember what the card looks like and also help when you compare it to other sixes in the deck. Excellent starter decks include the Gilded Tarot by Ciro Marchetti, the Arcanum Tarot by Renata Lechner, and the Thelema Tarot by Lo Scarabeo.
If you’re a more seasoned reader, you may be comfortable reading from more advanced decks. These have “bonus cards,” cards that don’t have the card number illustrated on them, or additional major cards that don’t conform to the Rider-Waite tradition. A beautiful non-traditional deck is the Dreams of Gaia Tarot by Raynne Phelan. It has twenty-four major cards divided into three sections, and the major card meanings deviate from the Rider-Waite.
Images and Symbols
Colors, imagery, and symbols are often the most powerful things that attract us to the tarot. Be aware of which decks you’re drawn to and why. Black and white decks have a very different energy than decks with colorful images.
The symbols for astrological signs, elements, and planets may also be important when choosing a deck. Notice the details of decks you like; what types of images, colors, and additional touches make a deck stand out and feel special?
A deck’s theme may closely relate to its imagery and symbolism. Some decks, such as the Dreams of Gaia Tarot, have a nature theme. The Chrysalis Tarot by Toney Brooks and Holly Sierra is a healing deck with whimsical illustrations. The Druid Craft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm draws inspiration and meaning from Wicca and Druidry. Whether you’re into cats, dragons, witchcraft, nature, or fairies, there’s a tarot deck out there with just the right theme for you.
A lesser yet important consideration when selecting a deck is card size. There are mini-decks whose cards measure only a couple of inches tall. Large decks can have cards that may be close to six inches tall.
If you buy a deck with large cards, will you have trouble shuffling them? If you buy a mini-deck, will you be able to connect with those smaller images, or will the cards be so small that you’ll lose important details that may be important during a reading?
Lastly, think about whether you want to travel with your cards. Large decks can get heavy to lug around, while a smaller deck similar in size to regular playing cards may be just right.
Back of Card Imagery
If you read (or plan to read) reversals, which is a tarot card that is upside down, the image on the back of your cards can make a difference. Ideally, the back image on your cards will be mirrored. This means that you won’t be able to tell if a tarot card is right side up or upside down based on the card’s back image.
Though the back image is of minor consideration for some, a non-mirrored back image may cause you to bring a different energy to your reading because you’ll know that certain cards are reversed.
Selecting a tarot deck should be a fun and rewarding experience. By combining your level of knowledge with other aspects such as imagery, theme, card size, and back image, you can find the perfect deck that you’ll look forward to using time after time.
Written by Brooke Davis
Brooke Davis is a tarot teacher and wellness coach who enjoys helping the tarot-curious learn about the cards by using intuition and insight, not just definitions from a book. Her four-course Tarot 101 series is offered online through Discover Your Spiritual Gifts. Register for the next session here.