One of the questions that I am asked by new Tarot students is how do I know which deck is right for me? Understandably, given how many decks there are out there. Between traditional Tarot and then all the Oracle decks its easy to get overwhelmed by the choices and drawn in by the artwork in the decks. So, with so many options how DO you pick the right deck? There are several options:
- You are gifted your first deck, usually by your teacher.
- You find one at a local shop.
- Hunt one down online.
- The deck finds you!
I. The Gift that Keeps on Giving
When I started reading, it was traditional for you to be gifted your first deck of cards by a teacher or like minded friend, and this is actually how I got my first deck. It was nothing overly spectacular, just a simple Rider-Waite; but to me is seemed like the key that young Mary Lennox finds and uses to open the door into her aunt’s garden in The Secret Garden! It also built a special bond between myself and my teacher, and although we lost touch over the years I still think back on her with very warm feelings. Although I love the connection this makes between the giver and the receiver it isn’t always feasible; even with it being easier to find teachers these days. Some people just prefer to keep their interests to themselves and with there being so many excellent resources on the internet these days you don’t necessarily need a human teacher. So does this mean that you are screwed if you don’t have someone to gift you a deck? Nope, not at all; if anything you get to select what sings out to you instead of taking the deck that someone thinks is your match.
II. Shop til You Drop
The next option is to do an in person search, so its time to search for metaphysical shops in your area and plan a visit. Some shops have decks outside of the box so that you can see what all the cards look like, which is always a plus. The most important thing here is to see what each deck makes you feel, because the right deck will make itself known to you.
Several years into reading cards I stopped into a new shop to see what they had to offer. In the corner there was an Arthurian deck that just kept pulling me back to it, no matter what I did. The owner of the shop laughed and said “You apparently aren’t leaving without that deck!” The last thing I was looking for was to spend money on a tarot deck, especially one that was that expensive; but I also knew enough to know that there was a reason I had visited that shop and after chatting with the owner we came to a deal that we could both live with. This deck is still with me, but it has a major attitude problem (I will chat about that on another day) so I don’t use it all that often, guess we can say that it is in retirement. 🙂 For a while it wouldn’t even work for me, instead preferring my then husband!
III. Let Your Fingers do the Walking
This can be a bit trickier, simply because sometimes what we see on the screen isn’t what we get in the mail. That being said, you are able to really broaden your options when you do your looking online as you are limited to what the local stores have in stock or what is regularly available in your country. I was able to find 2 gorgeous decks from Russia that I adore and I never would have been able to find these if it had’t been for an internet search. So if you don’t mind waiting a little bit, finding the deck online isn’t a bad option.
IV. Left on Your (Proverbial) Doorstep
Sometimes you just happen to stumble upon a deck, with no rhyme or reason. I have come across decks at yard sales, Goodwill, and even a Salvation Army! When a friend’s grandmother passed away we helped his mom clear out her flat and I stumbled into an unknown treasure trove. While I was cleaning out the bookshelf, behind the “proper” books; I found Rune stones, 6 tarot decks, books on tarot, magick, crystals!! I called my friend in and showed him what I had uncovered and he laughed. He and the entire family thought GiGi was a good Italian Catholic!! He simply asked his mom what she wanted to do with all the books and she asked us to bring them to Goodwill!! So I packed up the decks, Runes, crystals, and all the books and they came home with me.
I was not looking for anything that day, but of all the rooms that I could have been working in, I was in the room with all of GiGi’s hidden life. One of my finds that day was an original Aquarian Tarot that I had wanted for years!! It finally found its way home to me…. I just had to wait for it to find me.
My only bit of advice, is to stick with cards that are slightly less complex in the beginning. “But Shae, that Shadowscapes deck is AMAZING! Why shouldn’t I get that?” I’m not saying that you can’t, but as a beginner it is better to go with a deck that is based on the basics and that doesn’t have a lot of extra imagery that can pull your attention or overload you. It is also helpful if the deck you are using is one that is referenced in any guidebooks that you are using, and if you are fortunate enough to have a teacher, ask them for their recommendations.