DEALING WITH TRADITION/SUPERSTITION: Before I ascend into the tips on buying your first deck, it is extremely important to address the topic of Should you even buy your own first deck?! Yes, there are two sides to this argument in the Tarot Reading sphere. Many believe (including me) that Tarot Decks are best “handed down” and not purchased. They are best when gifted. When I first started reading at the age of eleven, my mother had gifted me a beautiful Rider-Waite Tarot deck that worked like magic. That was the first inspiration. Choosing a Tarot Deck after that adventure has been difficult, with two decks that didn’t work for me. Hence, I personally recommend that an adviser or your Tarot teacher should make that special effort of initiation.
But if you are venturing out into your own journey of learning with no past associations with the spirited Tarot, then we move ahead with the argument that states that no one can chose your cards because your connection to the cards is very personal.
- Decide if you want a traditional deck or a non-traditional deck: Traditional decks come with 78 cards and have a Major and Minor Arcana. Almost all reference books on Tarot Reading are based on these traditional decks. Hence, when beginning to learn it is advisable to chose a traditional deck. Example: The Rider-Waite Deck. However, there are some decks which are essentially Tarot decks but which have been altered onto a different mythology, so some cards from the traditional deck may be missing or changed. Non-traditional decks have their own system of order which is slightly different from the Tarot (example: Angel Cards) but they can be brought onto the learning journey at a later stage by combining them in a reading with traditional cards to provide new dimensions to your answers.
- Buy a Tarot Deck with descriptive pictures and detailed artwork: Tarot Decks today come with several themes: Fairytale/Egyptian/Pagan/Wiccan. Choose a theme that intrigues you but do not forget the importance of the ‘instinctive’ appeal of the pictures of the deck. Pictures that are vague and minimal may be harder to learn with as the deck will eventually lack detailed esoteric meanings. Without interesting artwork, learning the Tarot becomes a dry experience revolving around textbook learning. You need to see and feel meanings, you client will eventually want to as well. When the cards have pictures on them, you can easily explain a particular card in a way that the client can understand.
- The Minor Arcana Choice: Out of the 78 cards in the Tarot, 58 represent the minor arcana. These 58 cards are depicted in two different styles ranging from deck-to-deck. The first style is the Rider-Waite style that incorporates people in action and interaction with detailed surroundings; the second style is the Thoth style that has suit symbols shown in a decorative manner. I recommend you to pick a deck with Rider-Waite style because interaction and surrounding depiction suggest much more interpretation than the four constant suit symbols.
- Take your time picking out your Tarot Deck: All the practical advise in beneficial but the Tarot must speak to you when buying your first deck. If it doesn’t in that moment, then come back later or try another store. You must choose with love and care. You must ponder over this decision. If a Tarot Deck makes you feel comfortable, secure and inspired then you have got the right one. You will be spending a lot of time with this deck and therefore you must pick one that makes you want to learn and strikes as pleasant. It’s like picking a friend or picking a marriage partner: approach the one that fascinates you, not the first one you find!
The true Tarot is symbolism; it speaks no other language and offers no other signs.
––A.E. Waite, English occultist and co-creator of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot.