Tarot reader David North looks at the steps involved in purchasing an appropriate
Tarot deck. It is taken from eMystica's Tarot Course.
If you have already bought a deck which works for you, then all well and good.
There are so many designs available today that it can be quite bewildering if
you know nothing about the subject. All designs are NOT equal.
The standard Tarot pack should be made up of five suits usually known as Coins
or Pentacles, Swords, Wands or Staffs, Cups, and the Trumps. The first four
suits are known collectively as the Minor Arcana and comprise of 14 cards in
each suit. The trumps are usually referred to as the Major Arcana and number
In older designs, the Major Arcana was always illustrated, but, like modern
day playing cards, only the court cards in the Minor Arcana bore pictures. If
you use one of the older designs, it can be a bit confusing at first as ten
swords and ten wands look very similar in many of these packs.
This trend was broken by A.E. Waite, who together with artist Pamela Coleman-
Smith produced the Rider Waite Deck. This is an ideal deck for the beginner
as it is illustrated throughout - it is much easier to memorise the basic meanings
this way. Also, Waite was a knowledgeable and skilled Magician, and the symbolism
throughout the deck is accurately rendered. If you want to take your relationship
with the cards beyond what we can discuss here, then this is the deck I recommend.
Another advantage of this deck is that it is currently (2006) available in
four different sizes. One is minute and impractical, the second is the same
size as standard playing cards, the third is standard Tarot deck size, and the
Many modern decks are modelled on, or inspired by, the Rider Waite version,
most notably the Morgan Greer deck which aims to give the now slightly dated
look of the Rider Waite an overhaul. It's a far more colourful deck, very vivid
in places, and appears to be "close ups" of some of the Rider Waite
designs. Morgan Greer is useful as a second deck, if your first is the Rider
Waite, because of the similarity.
The best advice though is to shop around. Take a look at the decks on offer
and if one design appeals to you over the others, then that is the one to go
with even if common sense says otherwise. A design which appeals to your deep
mind will work better for you.
When you decide on your deck, I recommend that you also purchase a box to keep
it in and a black cloth (preferably silk) to wrap it in. Keep the wrapped pack
in the box when not in use. The box will protect the cards physically whilst
the black cloth is reputed to insulate the pack from the general psychic background
noise all around us.
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