Moody Moon’s welcomes guest writer, Christine Herlehey of Numerology Sign, for her take on choosing a tarot deck.
When starting out with Tarot, one of the biggest challenges a new reader faces is choosing a tarot deck for the first time. There are so many different decks available, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here are a few thoughts and tips to help you if you are looking for your first deck.
Take control of the situation
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There is a myth about Tarot that you shouldn’t buy your own deck, at least for your first deck, and that it should be a gift.
The idea behind this myth is that receiving a deck is kind of like an invitation from the universe to take up Tarot.
This is entirely untrue.
If your intuition is drawing you towards Tarot, what other kind of invitation do you need?
The myth probably comes from an occult group known as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn that were active in Europe in the later 19th and earliest 20th century. They are responsible for many of the occult practices linked with Tarot.
They probably said this to reinforce the idea that you needed to join the order to read Tarot, and of course pay the order’s joining fee.
With this myth busted, it is better to take control of the situation when it comes to choosing your first deck. Tarot is about accessing your intuition, so you should follow your intuition to find the deck that is right for you. Your deck needs to stimulate the intuitive and creative parts of your mind, and only you will know which deck will do that most effectively.
Do your research
Fortunately, many Tarot readers share images of their decks online, and there are many reviews of different Tarot decks that you can track down easily. This means that you can get to know a deck well before you ever see a physical card.
Take advantage of this resource and spend time looking at the different decks, examining the imagery, and picking a deck that appeals to your affinities. For example, if you follow the Christian faith, you may find that traditional cards steeped in Christian imagery appeal to you, while if you consider yourself more of a modern witch, there are several Wicca decks that may appeal to you.
If you don’t already have a leaning, it can be difficult to know where to start. I recommend taking to sites like Pinterest and just imbibing the images and seeing which ones appeal.
If you find a few that appeal, see what themes the decks have, Wicca, Kabbalah, Druidic, and then expand your search to other decks that share similar characteristics.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t explain why a certain deck appeals to you, if your gut is drawing you towards a certain deck, it is probably a worthwhile gamble.
Think about how you will learn
While you should follow your intuition when it comes to picking a deck, new readers should be wary of selecting an overly obscure deck, as they will be much more difficult to learn how to use!
There are two things to consider in this context.
First, how popular the deck is and therefore how many other readers are using the deck and what kind of other resources will be available to help you learn.
Second, how complex the theory behind reading the decks are.
In terms of complexity, the Rider-Waite deck, and other decks related to it have a straightforward approach to reading.
As an example, you decide if the cards should be read with their direct meaning or their inverted reading based on whether the cards are dealt upright or reversed. In contrast, the Thoth deck is quite challenging for new readers. For example, there is no upright or reversed state for the cards, and the reader must decide whether the meaning of the card is direct or inverted depending on where it sits in relation to other cards on the table.
Readers of the Thoth deck also benefit from a deep understanding of Kabbalah, as the cards are designed with Kabbalistic meanings and work best when related to the Kabbalah tree.
Is the Rider-Waite deck for you?
It is easy to see why the Rider-Waite would be an easier deck for a new reader.
The Rider-Waite deck is also the most popular deck. Designed by occultist A.E. Waite in the first decade of the 20th century, it has never been out of print. The deck is not without its faults.
For example, Waite reordered several of the Major Arcana from their traditional order and never explained why. Though another benefit of the Rider-Waite deck are changes that he made to the Minor Arcana. While the Major Arcana have always been elaborately decorated, in older Tarot decks the Minor Arcana resemble modern playing cards. Waite added vignettes of people to each of the Minor Arcana, giving the reader more to draw on.
While the Rider-Waite deck is an excellent choice for new readers, it does not limit you, as there are many decks out there based on the Rider-Waite deck but with the imagery re-imagined appealing to different sensibilities. You can still get a deck that uses Wicca imagery that is based on the Rider-Waite system, so you can have imagery that appeals to you personally, and benefit from the vast resources associated with the Rider-Waite deck.
The final thing to consider when selecting a deck is not to put too much pressure on yourself to find the perfect deck first time. It is very difficult to know whether a deck is right for you until you start using it, so you might have to accept that you may go through a few different decks before you find the right one.
It is also worth accepting that your first deck is unlikely to be your ideal deck. As you become more experienced with Tarot, your needs and tastes will change. You may find that the time you invest in Tarot feeds your interest in other things like Astrology or Kabbalah, in which case you will probably want to change decks to one that involves these ideas.
There is no one right deck, you will go through several different decks over the course of your relationship with Tarot.
Moody Moon’s welcomes guest writer, Christine Herlehey, of Numerology Sign.