*~* Witchcraft and Wicca Forum *~* EUTM


Choosing My First Tarot Deck: Tips and Picks

For discussion and questions about the tarot.

Choosing My First Tarot Deck: Tips and Picks

Postby Shub Niggurath » Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:34 am

I've never been a fan of Tarot really, always preferred my Runes and other "hipster" types of divination (don't even ask). But some time ago I felt drawn to Tarot like never before so I decided to research the topic as thoroughly as I could. It took me a few months to research Tarot - especially the decks variations out there - so now I'm ready to share my experience and what I ended up with ;)
Maybe someone who's new to Tarot (like me) will find my rambling somewhat helpful.
(I'm discussing the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition in this thread. Keep in mind that Crowley's, Hermetic and Marseille traditions are a bit different.)


I'm not going to go into extreme detail here as we already have a few threads on Tarot basics and stuff like that. But what I find really important and somewhat tricky at the same time is finding a deck suitable for a Tarot newbie.
It had to appeal to me visually both on the front and the back (and the frames were important as well), it had to be packed with symbolism and easy to read. Now, the problem appeared when I wanted to find a deck that would meet my expectations on both major arcana and the minors.

The pip cards are usually the problem because a lot of artists don't really give a damn about them which results in either minimalistic pip cards without additional symbolism on them or just copy+pasted suits with badly designed pictures around. At first I didn't realize the importance of the pip's design but luckily for me and my wallet I didn't buy any deck before I finished my research.

For those who are not familiar with Tarot it can be hard to learn 78 cards and their meanings (unlike Runes - there's only 24 of them). It can be additionally difficult when the minor cards are just blank, like playing cards (Marseille style) - there's nothing to anchor your sight and intuition on, nothing to prompt the meaning. So unless you're into heavy studying and memorizing stuff from a book instead of gaining an intuitive understanding, you should pay attention to it.

Another important thing about minor arcanas is the color schemes for each suit. Each suit represents one of the four elements (Swords - Air, Cups - Water, Pentacles - Earth, Wands - Fire) and it's ideal when the suits color schemes correspond with the element (Water - blue, Earth - green, Fire - red, Air - light blue/white/yellow). This is such a basic info that an artist's common sense should make them design the minors with the right colors. Oh, couldn't be more surprised! I browsed through so many decks with beautiful, evocative imagery just to find that the suits got the colors all wrong (I'm still especially sad about the Labyrinth Tarot - so beautiful yet so so wrong)! This is important for one main reason - if you learn the colors all wrong with your first deck you're going to have trouble reading any other deck you might pick up in the future. I'm not even going to mention the importance of our intuitive understanding of colors, elements and their correspondencies.

And lastly, the back design. Yes, it is important too - especially if you want to read reversals at some point. The thing is that the design should be more or less the same despite of the card being up right or upside down. This is the least important thing to me at the moment because I don't need to "be surprised" by the card's position for it to hold its meaning - be it reversal or regular. But I know that most of the experienced, professional tarot readers are highly annoyed by that so I can't be sure if I'll change my mind about that in the future when I gain more experience with Tarot.


So I eventually found my Holy Grail deck - Tarot Illuminati by Eric C. Dunne. Everything I could possibly demand from a deck I found in this one. I didn't get it because it's barely accessible in my country (and when it is, it's ridiculously pricy) but I'm sure it's going to be mine once I feel I'm experienced enough with Tarot to make it a justifiable purchase.

What I got instead is a deck that I accidentally found for sale in an online second-hand esoteric market (people exchanging or selling decks they don't use). I fell in love instantly! Perfect, evocative imagery, packed with symbolism even more than the Tarot Illuminati, perfect minor arcanas, perfect back and... a super quirky companion book! It's like this deck seriously fell from the sky on me, with a ridiculously cheap price at that, so I bought it instantly. The deck I'm talking about is Wizards Tarot designed by Corrine Kenner.
What I love about the book is that it's not a regular companion book you could expect - it takes you into a year-long study in Mandrake Academy of Witchcraft and Wizardry - how cool is that, haha! Every major arcana card is a proffessor who teaches you lessons (card meanings) and gives you some homework to do - like spells, rituals, herbology etc (perfect for people who are totally new to witchcraft as they will learn basics of the craft and Tarot at the same time). While for me the book might not be perfect as I'm an old stager when it comes to witchcraft and occult, I highly recommend it for anyone who's a newbie both in Tarot and witchcraft. I think it would be a perfect deck to give to your children as well. But even for someone who's been in the craft for years I still think you can appreciate the deck by itself as the imagery and overall design is beautiful and unique.

Image
My Wizards Tarot. The Moon card is just stunning! And the witch on the broom underneath is The Chariot, lol.

Image
Some of my personal favourites: The Dark Lord = The Devil; The Hanged Man (I love the unusual imagery in this one - a man studying Elder Futhark, clear assosiation with Odin who hung himself from the tree to gain knowledge); The Alchemist = Temperance (makes a lot of sense); Transfiguration = Death.


Hope my rambling, tips and deck suggestions will be helpful for any Tarot newbies out there who are struggling to pick their first deck or maybe are not aware of all the trouble they can get themselves into if they pick a wrong deck.

What are your tips and requirements when it comes to Tarot decks? Anything you wish you knew when you were less experienced and beginning your journey with Tarot?
Image
User avatar
Shub Niggurath
 
Posts: 328
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2014 11:18 am
Location: Moon
Gender: Female

Re: Choosing My First Tarot Deck: Tips and Picks

Postby Echo_of_shadows » Wed Nov 19, 2014 4:02 am

Levitating Cat wrote:The pip cards are usually the problem because a lot of artists don't really give a damn about them which results in either minimalistic pip cards without additional symbolism on them or just copy+pasted suits with badly designed pictures around. At first I didn't realize the importance of the pip's design but luckily for me and my wallet I didn't buy any deck before I finished my research.

I agree. It's as though people get lazy with their designs of the minor arcana. Some decks you'll see the two of swords looks like the rest of the suit of swords except for the number of swords on each card. Then you get the ones where there isn't much to distinguish between the suits other than a picture of two sword versus two discs on a background that's identical.
As much as I like the beautiful major arcana cards of the Anne Stokes deck, the deck is crappy. Sure, I can use it, but I don't really connect with the cards. It's pretty much what I just described.
The size of the cards is also important. My Dark Carnival tarot deck is awesome, but it can be a little difficult to shuffle because the cards are wide; almost square.
You'd probably want to like the overall looks of the deck. No point in owning a werewolf themed deck if you don't like werewolves.
Echo_of_shadows
Ƴσʋ ∂σи'т αℓωαʏƨ κиσω ωнɛяɛ ʏσʋ ƨтαи∂ | 'Ƭιℓ ʏσʋ κиσω тнαт ʏσʋ ωσи'т яʋи αωαʏ -Ƨℓιρκиσт
User avatar
Echo_of_shadows
 
Posts: 1774
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 12:07 pm
Location: Mushroom Valley
Gender: Female


Return to Tarot Talk

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest