If you do not currently own a Tarot deck, here’s my advice on how to purchase one. The main criteria is that the imagery of the deck appeals to you. You will be viewing that deck fairly often so you’re going to want to get a deck you find to be pleasing to your eye. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and these days there are hundreds of decks to choose from, so where do you start?
If you’re relatively new to Tarot I would recommend that you begin with a deck for which all the pips are fully illustrated with scenes. The pips are the minor arcana – the four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords & Pentacles) and their cards, Ace – King. Some decks only represent the pips numerically. For instance, the 2 of Cups will be just that, a picture of 2 cups. The 6 of Pentacles will be simply a picture of six pentacles, and so on. When the pips are fully illustrated the cards are depicted scenically.
A good example of this is the 3 of Cups, here from The Rider Waite Smith (known as the RWS) deck. This one has been painted by artist Carol Herzer. Here we have three woman holding their cups aloft as they celebrate something. The 3 of Cups represents having a reason to celebrate. It can also indicate having a good time with friends. You see that idea depicted here through the symbols used for the card. This is what I mean by a fully illustrated pip card. For someone who is new to Tarot it is crucial your first few decks have fully illustrated pips. This will make the flow and narrative of your readings much easier to follow and comprehend.
There are many decks that contain fully illustrated pips. As a Tarot instructor, over the years I have recommended several decks to my students that are in various styles, but they have one thing in common. All the pips are illustrated.
Firstly, I would recommend any version of the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Tarot. You can google the title and then click on “images” to view various styles of this deck.
My second suggestion is The Robin Wood Tarot.
Done in the RWS style, Robin Wood’s depiction of the pips, as well as the major arcana, is very straightforward and simple to understand. Many times while using this deck with clients they can glance down at the table and know immediately how the reading will turn out based upon the images on the cards, yet they know nothing of Tarot. I highly recommend The Robin Wood Tarot for beginners. Plus, it’s a lovely deck that has a pagan feel to it.
Another nice deck to start with, especially for those of you with smaller hands, is the Hanson-Roberts Tarot. These cards are playing-card size so they are easier to shuffle and larger readings will take up less room on your table. The artwork is done in colored pencil and is lovely and done in the RWS tradition.
If you like computer graphic art, I also recommend any Tarot deck by the artist
Ciro Marchetti. I own all his decks & must say he is among my all-time favorite Tarot artists. I especially like his Legacy of the Divine deck, as well as his Tarot of Dreams, which is my personal favorite.
Lisa Hunt is another Tarot artist I highly admire & find inspiring for my own artistic endeavors. She has a number of decks in print and you can search
her at Amazon to find a list there. My all-time favorite of hers is The Celtic Dragon Tarot, which I believe has just entered its 14th printing, if I’m not mistaken. This was the first non-RWS deck I purchased back in 1999 and I must say after using only the RWS for nearly 20 years, The Celtic Dragon Tarot introduced me to a whole new world of decks not strictly done in the RWS tradition. Lisa Hunt depicts each card with a dragon and lovely Celtic scenery all done in watercolor.
A good website to visit in order to see at least six images from every card deck is Aeclectic Tarot at http://www.aeclectic.net/. They also include deck reviews and here you can make an informed decision as to which deck to purchase. Purchase links are also included.
My main tips for choosing a Tarot deck are:
- The pips should be fully illustrated scenes if you’re a beginner.
- The artwork should be pleasing to your eye.
- There are many themes of decks available now so choose a theme that interests you.
It can be daunting to sift your way through the hundreds of Tarot decks available these days. Take your time and I’m sure you will end up with the deck that is perfect for you.
Wishing You Many Blessings,
Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.
The Egyptian Lenormand now available for pre-order at Schiffer Books and Amazon.
The Turtle Lenormand now available for pre-order.
My forthcoming Aloha Spirit of Maui Oracle deck.