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How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

October 15, 2009

For someone who is completely new to Tarot, the vast selection of decks on the market can be a little intimidating. So, here are a few things you should know about choosing your first deck:

  • There is a pervasive myth that you must receive a Tarot deck as a gift, rather than buying it for yourself, but there is really no practical reason behind it.  In fact, by choosing your own deck, hopefully you can find something that you connect with a little better.

  • Most popular modern decks and books are based around the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. For this reason, it's a good one to start with. If you learn to read these cards, later you'll be able to transition to many others easily. This deck also has a combination of very readable scenes which are easy to find a story in, and esoteric symbolism which you can study to deepen your understanding of the deck.

  • Unless you are familiar with a system of numerology, or some other means of interpretting pip cards, you should probably choose a deck which is illustrated with full scenes on ALL the cards in the deck, rather than just showing the suit emblems on the minor arcana (the numbered suit cards). There will be more visual cues for your intuition to draw from.

  • Look up pictures and reviews of decks online, to see which ones you feel drawn to, and learn more about them. Some good sites for this are www.aeclectic.nethttp://taroteca.multiply.comwww.tarotpassages.com, www.janetboyer.com/Reviews_Decks.htmlwww.wicce.com, and  www.albideuter.de

  • Learn something about who created the deck, and what their motivations were for doing so. Tarot is used in many different ways, and some decks are better for certain purposes than others.  Some decks were intended for meditating on the imagery, some for fortune-telling, some for spiritual introspection.  Some decks are filled with many layers of symbolism, which you can study the meanings of, and some have beautiful art which will evoke intuitive responses. Some will have both, and some will have neither.

  • Remember that you can always acquire more decks. Many people become Tarot collectors, either in the hopes of finding the elusive 'perfect deck', or because they appreciate the myriad of different ways the Tarot has been reinterpretted by so many people. If you have a hard time reading the first deck that you acquire, you may want to see if there is another that you connect with a little better!

  • Choose a good book, to accompany your new Tarot deck, or take a class. All decks come with a little mini booklet inside that has some keywords for each card, but these don't usually provide a lot of information. Some decks come with a larger book designed specifically for that deck, but these are not always the best book. I would recommend “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card” by Mary Greer, as a fantastic starting point for anyone, regardless of which Tarot you choose.

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