Did you know that there are over 1500 tarot decks currently in print? Faced with such a bewildering choice, how do you narrow down the one that’s right for you? Here are some tips to get you started.
What Do You Want the Deck For?
Well, yes, to read tarot, clearly, but why? Is this just for personal interest, or will you be giving readings to others? Do you want to meditate with the cards, or use them for brainstorming and creative purposes? Do you want them to form part of your magical practice, or do you want something simple to entertain friends and family with?
The answers to these questions will determine how simple or complex your ideal tarot deck should be, and will also point towards practical features such as how much imagery is appropriate, what size the cards should be and how robust the deck needs to be.
How Experienced Are You?
If you are new to tarot, you’ll want to select a deck with clear, universal imagery, and plenty of help available. Most people begin with the Rider Waite tarot deck, but this is not your only option as a beginner – other decks such as the Gilded Tarot or the Universal Tarot are also good options, as are the Robin Wood and Morgan Greer decks. Beginners should choose bold, colorful images, and a deck about which much has been written or for which there are a lot of guidebooks.
If you’re more experienced in tarot, then you will be able to choose from the whole wide range of conceptual, abstract, traditional, classical and themed decks. Here personal preference and artistic vibes start to come into play.
What Type of Art Do You Enjoy?
Do you like traditional, classical, medieval style imagery, or would you prefer a much more modern take on the tarot? Are you interested in a themed tarot? Perhaps you’re passionate about angels, fairies, animals, ancient Egypt, Thoth, vampires, feminism or manga – whatever floats your boat, these days, there is usually a deck along those lines. Think back to your purpose for the deck, however. If you read for clients, some of them may not appreciate the types of imagery or themes that you do, in which case you’ll want to avoid controversial or niche decks.
Visit a Store
If at all possible, visit a store which stocks multiple tarot decks. Not always easy, of course, and even if there is one near you, they may have at best 20-30 of the 1500 decks in stock. Nevertheless, it’s a good starting point, especially if the store will allow you to examine and handle sample decks out of the packaging. When face to face with the cards, you may well find that what you thought you wanted isn’t at all what you wanted, and that instead an entirely different deck speaks to you.
Even if you don’t find the deck of your dreams in the store, it will at least help you to narrow down what you quite like and what you definitely do not like.
The Net is Your Friend
Some mega sites like Aeclectic Tarot have images and reviews of hundreds of tarot decks. If you cannot see the decks in person, it’s worth spending some time browsing and researching tarot directories to see what’s out there.
And what of the story that you must only receive tarot cards as a gift? Nonsense – in this enlightened world, you’re better off buying them for yourself, so that you get exactly what you want. Although, of course, if you find the deck of your dreams and you have a willing friend or relative, it’s very nice to be spoilt!