When it came to my first tarot deck, in all honesty I was awfully picky! I wanted something colorful, but not too fancy. Something symbolic, but not too heavy on the eyes. In the end I went with the classical, beginner-friendly Rider-Waite tarot deck as my first. My second deck was one I designed myself! To this day I continue to design tarot decks I find lacking in the tarot market, as well as satisfy your desires.
People and the way we connect are many and different. Your first connection with a tarot deck can happen anywhere, anytime, like love at first sight. On a holiday trip abroad. Incidental Instagram scrolling. It can also happen consciously and pragmatically, like myself. In this blog post I’d like to go over a handful of things to consider when choosing your first – or even next – tarot deck.
Style and Character
This might be an unexpected one to begin with, but I do want to put it out there – you can be spiritual and express it selectively through carefully crafted fashion or aesthetical choices. Are you exclusively looking to practice tarot divination and spirituality or are you making first steps into modern witchcraft? If you are more of a green or kitchen witch, then you might be looking for altar cloths and tarot with designs inspired by nature. If you’re going for a mystical, nocturnal aesthetic, there is nothing ‘ingenuine’ or ‘posing’ about crafting that image.
Self-expression is a form of communication and connection, and if it helps you get in ‘the zone’ or connect better with your purpose – then by all means, design your look and environment as fit. You might feel like starting conservatively by only getting a deck, but for whatever end-visual-message you’re going for, working towards a ‘matching set’ in terms of deck, bags, cloths and other tools is a long-term goal to keep at the back of the mind.
Your Beginner’s Reading + Learning Style
While the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is considered the beginner’s friendly design, this is not necessarily true for all people. Some tarot readers are more visual and do depend a lot on visuals and symbolisms to guide their learning and interpretative process. However, as we discussed in a previous blog post about different tarot deck designs, different illustrative interpretations can affect and bend a card’s meaning towards a more particular direction or flavor.
More ‘logical’ reader might find these visuals distracting. They might prefer to stick to numerology, the meaning behind the four suit elements and core concepts of the Major Arcana. In which case, a minimal design where the Three of Cups is represented with, well, three cups, might help a reader focus on connecting keywords and themes together. Do consider your learning style!
Pro tip: if you just thought you’re a better audio-learner, you might benefit from a deck with a very stylized, focused theme, like a fairytale- or baroque-motif. In which case, your interpretation and learning style are more story-telling driven.
Long Term Plans + Quality of Materials
Are you looking to in-death study first, or to practice as you go? Do you plan to read only for yourself or for others? The latter is an even bigger reason to invest into a higher quality material deck to ensure they remain presentable in the long run. However, if you’re looking to start with a personal-only deck, consider how attached you might become to the deck in the long-run.
Obviously, price plays a big role as well. If you’ve a limited budget for your esoteric practices, but planning to use your cards actively, it might make more sense to invest into a high-quality deck from the get-go to ensure the cards don’t scratch and wear off too fast, potentially lasting with you for years to come. However, if you’re still undecided about tarot or are unsure about how much time you’d be able to dedicate to learning, then even a small Rider Waite deck from a bookstore could potentially be enough for early trial purposes – but then what would you plan to do with them afterwards?
Gut Feeling and Emotional Connection
Last but certainly not the least is that magnetic pull you just feel towards a certain deck. A tarot reader I know, who was curious about tarot for a while, found her first deck in a second-hand bookstore in the middle of nowhere. She saw the old, battered box-set of cards and guidebook, with its imperfections and answered the call.
When you feel that spark, things like price, wait time or any other conditions will not matter. Many tarot practitioners ‘get to know’ their cards via a slow courtship, sleeping with the deck and carrying it around, mentally speaking or just flipping through the designs long before their first reading. Others jump right in! I suppose like with any relationship, it’s highly unique for every kind of connection. If it feels right, it’s right.
At the end of the day, experimenting and having faith in your choice is part of the experience. What do you do after you chose your first deck? You might want to start by learning how to cleanse your cards and take care of them. You can check out my tips for new tarot readers, and of course, learn about reading! I've a post about both popular tarot spreads as well as creating your own spreads.
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I'm always looking for ways to improve your journey towards spiritual wellbeing and enlightenment. And as always, thank you for your time.