How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

“Your first tarot deck must be given to you”

This is a common myth that dates back, I don’t know how long. But it’s a total myth. Your first deck can be given to you from yourself. No other person required. You choose the deck that speaks to you.


Tarot decks come in many different designs. Artists are really going above and beyond with the decks they’re designing. It’s really hard for someone who is starting out to figure out which deck is the best for them to use. Shit, even when I started, I had trouble figuring out which deck to start with and felt a little lost because I choose Shadowscapes instead of a traditional Ride-Waite Smith deck.


I know I know, wtf is a Shadowscapes and a Rider-Waite Smith deck?


Shadowscapes is a water colored deck by Stephanie PM Law, which I fell in love with at first sight.. it doesn’t help that it was one of the best looking decks available at Barnes and Noble that day ( but no here is impatient, lol). This is just one of the many decks that are available on Amazon, or any other shop that sells metaphysical items.


The Rider-Waite Smith (RWS) deck is a deck that was designed by Dr. Arthur Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith, published by the Rider Company in 1910. This is the first deck that uses scenic images on the minor arcana cards. All decks previous to this deck only used symbols of the suit (i.e. 7 Swords were depicted on the card).


The Rider-Waite Smith deck is probably the most popular deck when it comes to tarot reading. It is also the deck that most books on tarot refer to.
So now that you’re thinking, well, I have to get a RWS deck as my first deck, don’t I?


Not really. Each tarot deck that you purchase comes with it’s own interpretation of the card from the artist. The symbols and imagery that are chosen by the artist are typically explained in this book, sometimes referred to ask the Little White Book (LWB), which are sometimes not so little. I have included some links to decks that I feel are good to start down below.
How then, are you supposed to choose the right deck for your first deck?

#1 Pick One that is Visually Appealing

This is probably the easiest thing to say, but the hardest thing to do, especially at first. If you appreciate art, then this may even be a bit harder. Choose a deck that has imagery on it that suits your personality. If you are girly, a colorful deck may suit you. But if you hate the color pink, then a very pink unicorn deck isn’t going to suit you. I like to do research on the decks that I purchase and doing a Google Image search has saved tons of money for me. Not because the decks are good, but because they didn’t suit my style.


Side Note: When you are looking at decks and find a few that you like, make sure that they are not their own system within themselves. Some decks like Wildwood and Thoth have very different meanings for the cards than do the typical RWS decks. A good source of information on this is Aeclectic.net or tarot.com. They both have information and card images about tons of decks out there.

#2 Choose a deck with scenic images on all cards

When you’re in that Google Image search, check out the minor arcana cards.. the cards labelled Ace through King of Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles (or Coins). See if they have a scenic image on them. Cards with scenic imagery are going to be easier to interpret because your mind uses symbols to remember the meaning. And not to mention that a lot of decks, the scene is directly related to the meaning of the card. This makes remembering the meaning of all 78 cards that much easier.

#3 Ensure it is a tarot deck and not an oracle deck

Tarot decks and oracle decks are getting more and more closely related. The difference between a tarot deck and an oracle deck is that a tarot deck will typically follow the same 78 card breakdown of the RWS deck.
Each tarot deck will most likely contain 22 Major Arcana Cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards broken down into 4 different suits. These suits are sometimes renamed to be more appropriate for the art on the cards.
An oracle deck has no set number of cards and does not follow the layout of a tarot deck. An oracle deck can have 52 cards, each with an image and a short description on the card.If you are starting out and want to learn TAROT, I recommend a tarot deck.

#4 If all else fails, grab a copy of the RWS deck

In the end, if you still can’t decide between all of the different styles of tarot decks, I recommend grabbing a copy of the Rider-Waite Smith deck. This deck will help you set the foundation to read on most other tarot decks that are produced. This deck is also the deck that most authors use when writing their card meanings, so the books will make a lot more sense when they are talking about the symbols in the cards.

Please do you research on your first deck. Spend time looking at the cards and see how well you can guess at a meaning. Sometimes you may find a deck beautiful and it looks perfect for you, but you can’t read with it worth a damn. Then it will sit on your shelf while you begin the search all over again for a new deck.

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Choosing your first tarot deck

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