There is a popular misconception that has been circulated saying one must be given their first Tarot deck and that it’s bad luck to buy one for yourself. I’m here to say that this notion is complete and utter nonsense! There are so many amazing tarot decks out there, no matter how one finds its way to you, you can form a relationship with the cards.
There are various types of decks, but most share in a couple of key characteristics which are discussed in detail in my blog post “What is a Tarot Deck?” There are lots of reasons, in my opinion, to have more than one deck because of the way in which the imagery can vary. However, for a beginner to reading tarot cards, I recommend starting with one of these three decks, which are each based on the symbolism and meanings from The Rider-Waite/ Smith school of tarot.
The Rider-Waite/ Smith deck is a great starting place because of its iconic art by Pamela Colman-Smith and its ubiquitous presence in the history of tarot. This deck was the first to use illustrated scenes on the “pip” cards (Minor arcana suits) which is very helpful for interpretation. They may not be the freshest (or the most diverse), but they are classic and are the basis for many many derivative decks that have come after it.
There have been so many versions of Colman-Smith’s artwork, but my personal favorite is The Universal Waite. This particular coloring of the cards is rich and lovely, and the card stock is very sturdy. This was the deck I started with over a decade ago, and the cards have held up very well after so many years of frequent use.
If you are looking for a deck that is more diverse in its representation of cultures, ethnicities, & lgbtq folx, I strongly recommend The Modern Spellcaster’s Tarot. This deck is based around the Rider Waite/ Smith card meanings and imagery, but has an absolutely beautiful take on the traditional concepts and the cards are so richly illustrated you will always discover new things popping out at you upon further readings.
This is the deck I use most in my professional readings, due to its accessible and inclusive nature. The best part of The Modern Spellcaster’s deck, in my opinion, is that it is intended to be used for spell work. I have a few different blog posts planned about the use of tarot in Magickal practice, but suffice to say that this is a perfect deck to use for that purpose. It comes with a detailed and colorful book that includes spells and ideas for how to use the cards for magic & ritual.
The last deck I want to highlight is The Wayfarer Tarot. This is an indie deck created by Margaret Shipman & Stacy Salpietro-Babb. These two amazing women have crafted a deck that is beautiful, modern, and intended for easy reading. The Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards are very distinctive from one another, which is very helpful in a reading, and the imagery is appealing & straightforward. I highly recommend this deck for anybody who is a newbie to Tarot because it was created with the fledgling reader specifically in mind!
There are, of course, hundreds of decks out there! Variety is the spice of life, and if you are like me, you will want to collect many decks with all their different personalities and flavors. For the reader who is just learning, though, these are the decks I recommend you start with and they are each quite different from each other. Hopefully you will feel called to a deck that resonates with you, let me know which one you like most!
If you are interested in learning more about tarot, consider becoming a tarot VIP member at Bodhi Tree and you will receive free access to The Mana Sphere : a subscription-only community for tarot, astrology, & the wheel of the year. Each month, Mana Sphere members receive an email with a zine including original tarot spreads, astrological information, & rituals to celebrate the seasons of our lives. You also get access to our private Facebook discussion group where we post monthly video tarot readings & meditations, and share our at home readings & interpretations for judgement-free constructive feedback.