Looking to get into the tarot, but aren’t sure which deck to use? In this post, I’ll give you some tips on how to choose a tarot deck that’s right for you.
Is it okay to buy your own deck?
There’s a myth that you should never purchase your first tarot deck, rather it must be given to you by someone else. I have no idea where this notion came from, but it’s been floating around for years. It’s also complete nonsense.
Tarot decks, particularly your first deck, are deeply personal objects. I still use a Rider-Waite-Smith deck for many readings, because that was the first deck I picked up. And whether or not you connect with a deck is far more important than how it came to you. In my opinion, this means you might even get better results from the cards when you choose a tarot deck to work with. Giving and receiving tarot decks is fine, but there’s no reason you can’t just walk into a store buy whichever one calls to you.
With that out of the way, let’s get on with it.
Try to choose a tarot deck which looks nice
For me, one of the most important criteria for choosing a tarot deck is whether or not I like how it looks. Do I like its theme? Its color scheme? Its art style? They say looks aren’t everything. I say that if I’m going to spend hours staring at a bunch of cards, I’m not going to choose a deck which I think is ugly.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder (to drop another cliché), so behold every deck you might consider and ask yourself whether or not you think it’s beautiful. Do you like dark and moody things? Look for a deck in a dark and moody style. Are you really into colorful fairies? You’ll probably find a swarm of decks which appeal to you.
This might sound like obvious advice, but trust me, it’s not. I know many tarot readers who have decks with art they hate, but they still use them become someone else told them to. I also know many readers who’d probably be happiest with a light-hearted “theme” deck, but are afraid they won’t be taken seriously if they pull it out for a reading.
Look at the symbols
We’re still kind of in the realm of aesthetics here, but look at the symbols and glyphs on the cards. Do they resonate with you? Do they intrigue you?
One way to look at the tarot is to see the cards as a symbolic representation of the world. This means the symbols and themes you see in a deck should, in some way, reflect how you see the world itself. When you choose a tarot deck, you’re choosing the symbolic language you’ll be using for your readings.
If you’re just starting out with the tarot, some of the symbols might confuse you, but you shouldn’t feel especially “put off” by them.
Some tarot decks use cards which are about the size and shape of regular playing cards. Others are very much oversized, while most fall somewhere in the middle. Many of my decks are a little over four inches tall by about two-and-a-half inches wide.
Why do I mention this? Because different people have different hand sizes, and some decks are easier to handle than others. A typical tarot deck contains seventy-eight cards. That alone makes them a little more challenging to shuffle than a poker deck. Very large or very small cards can make shuffling even more of a challenge.
Card stock matters
It’s rarely something you can check while you’re holding a sealed box in the store, but what sort of stock are the cards printed on? Is it thin and cheap? Thick and heavy?
I’ve seen a lot of tarot decks which are printed on stock so thin that they rip and wrinkle if you stare at them too hard. I’ve also seen decks where the cards are thick enough that you could probably use them as roofing shingles.
If at all possible, try to get a feel for how thick and flexible the cards are before you choose a tarot deck. I have one on my shelf with thick card stock and edges so sharp that it actually hurts my hands to shuffle them. You probably don’t want that sort of thing in your life. You also don’t want a deck that will shrivel up the first time you sneeze at it.
If all of the above looks and feels good to you, I say go ahead and buy the deck. That said, we’re not quite done yet.
After you choose a tarot deck
When you purchase a tarot deck, think of it as the first date in what might become a long-term relationship. You still need to get to know each other.
Take the deck somewhere quiet to open. Hold it in your hands, and try to remember the feeling you had when you were a kid about to open a present.
Then, open the box carefully, and explore what’s inside. If the deck comes with a booklet, set it aside and look at the cards with only your own impressions to guide you. Let curiosity take the lead.
Once you’ve gone through the deck, shuffle the cards and perform a few, three-card readings.
What questions should you ask? Here are my big three:
- What can you tell me about yourself?
- What kinds of questions do you like to answer?
- Why did you come to me?
Depending on the answers I get, and the overall “vibe” I feel from the deck, I’ll ask more questions and throw more cards.
I won’t try to get a “serious” answer from a deck until I’ve spent several days doing these little “getting-to-know-you” readings. And I’ll never use a new deck in a tarot consultation for someone else until I’ve done several “real” readings for myself.
If all seems well, and we have a good connection, I’ll put the deck into “rotation” and see where the relationship leads. If we don’t connect, I hand the deck off to someone else, and assume I’m just here to help it get to the person it’s actually meant for.
I hope this advice helps you the next time you go looking for a new tarot deck. And if you have any advice for others, why not drop it in a comment down below?
Have a blessed day!
If you would like a Tarot or natal astrology reading, please visit my Consultations page. I would be happy to help.