Today we’ll go through the daunting task of choosing tarot decks for beginners.
This is not going to be an introductory guide to tarot. That can be found in my article: Beginner Tarot: How to Get Started.
Today, I want to dive into how to find the right deck for you.
There are few things I love as much as tarot. I got my first deck (a Universal Rider-Waite deck) almost twenty years ago. I dove right into learning the meanings and how to do different types of readings.
The thing that never occurred to me was to wonder if I had gotten the “right” deck. It never really occurred to me that there were other decks.
Once I found my first alternative deck, I was hooked. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of decks out there now. It can be daunting to choose one.
The purpose of this guide is to help you through this process.
What Deck Should I Get?
Tarot is deeply personal. The number one thing to keep in mind is to find a deck that speaks to you and works for whatever your core purpose is. The Rider-Waite deck is a classic and dates back to about 1910.
The imagery is well-researched, and any advanced reader will want to have some familiarity with it.
That being said, I hardly ever recommend this deck for a beginner, because there are so many options these days. You may as well start with something that feels designed for you and gets you excited.
You’ll want to figure out your purpose first.
Are you going to be doing personal readings? Are you starting a full business of professional readings? Do you use the tarot for meditation? Do you write novels from the imagery or journal?
The ways in which people use tarot are endless.
Once you have your purpose in mind, you’ll want to get some idea of what would work well for it.
Cthulhu tarot might not be the best fit for a romance novelist. Explicit sex tarot might not be inclusive enough for starting a general business.
Now you’ll want to find a huge repository of decks.
For example, tarot.com/tarot/decks has an okay collection. Remember to not get too tied down to any collection of decks you find. There are always many more.
See if any jump out to you. Sometimes the concept isn’t enough, so don’t stop here. If you love dragons, check out Peter Pracownik’s Dragon Tarot.
You’ll want to find a handful of card images from the deck and not just the box cover. Now, actually try out what you’ve decided as your purpose.
If you don’t have the deck, then you obviously can’t try a professional reading, if that’s your purpose. But you can visualize a person sitting across from you.
Try to put yourself in that moment, and pretend you pull one of the card you see on the screen. Does the reading come to you, or are you drawing a blank?
It should flow easily.
This is known as the cards “speaking to you.” Tarot appeals to the subconscious, and if the cards aren’t getting to your subconscious, try another.
I promise, there is a deck out there that will flow for you.
Google is your friend in this process. No matter how wild your concept is of a tarot deck, someone has probably made it.
Some people are going to react best to very concrete and clear imagery. Others will react best to highly abstract imagery that lets their subconscious latch onto the perfect reading.
Let’s get onto some of my recommendations.
Please, please explore beyond these recommendations on your own. I’ve put these here as a starting place because the sheer number of decks out there make exploring difficult.
Tarot Decks for Beginners
I stand by what I wrote above. Any deck will be great if it speaks to you. But tarot decks for beginners will almost always be best if they are on the classical side.
Tried and true imagery will make learning easiest. You have the rest of your life to explore, so there’s no harm in starting with something that makes learning easiest.
As I’ve already said, this deck is the gold standard of classical readings. Make sure it speaks to you. Many people these days find the drawings a little stiff.
This still makes a great first deck. If you learn the symbolism on these cards, you’ll have no problem switching over to another deck later on.
You can find it cheap on Amazon.
I can’t recommend this deck enough.
It sticks to clear, classic imagery, but it is so beautiful. The paintings really come to life for me. The colors are vibrant, and everything sings.
But then again, Celtic tradition and language have always kind of been my thing.
Be aware that some of the
Find the deck on Amazon.
These again have very clear and classic imagery, but what makes this deck so good is the consistency.
From the pastel color palette to the fine detail of the art style; from the bold foregrounds to the subtle background—everything about this deck works for me.
Find it on Amazon.
Maybe you’re still on the fence about whether you’ll ever use your deck. You don’t want to be spending thirty dollars or more for a rare deck with custoom wood box or something.
I originally tried to make a list here, but I’m not going to. Many on these lists are budget-friendly, and you’ll be far more likely to get your money’s worth with a deck you like than from a deck you got because it was the cheapest.
My Overall Favorite Decks
These decks may not be the best tarot decks for beginners, but they are the ones I return to again and again.
Give them a whirl, even if you are a beginner.
The Fountain Tarot takes a lot of inspiration from the classical symbols. Its goal is to be a universal standard for modern times.
There are some great aspects to this: it comes with a deck box for safe storage and the guide book is the most thorough I’ve ever seen for a standard deck.
In addition, so many people have fallen in love with this deck, that there are tons of resources on it.
Check it out! You will not be disappointed.
This is probably the most abstract and difficult to get into, but when you do, it is really worth it.
This is my all-time favorite deck. It bypasses all of my thinking brain and speaks directly to my heart.
After all these years, I’ll still get a rush at drawing some of the cards.
Again, there are serious full-books out there to help if you’re drawn to this but you’re worried about doing the readings.
Just look at this Hermit:
You can find the deck on Amazon.