Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Choosing A New Tarot Deck

Merry meet!

As you probably know, I am not just a witch but a professional tarot reader, and I often get asked how to choose a tarot deck if you are just getting into it, and the differences between tarot, oracle and Lenormand decks, so I thought I'd take the time to help.

Some of my decks
Tarot is a system of divination that uses illustrated cards to provide the reader with information.  It has been around for centuries; though nobody really knows how long, the earliest surviving reference dates back to 1440 and the earliest fragmented decks also date back to that century.  Each deck is traditionally made up of 78 cards; 22 major arcana (which means greater secrets) and 56 minor arcana or lesser secrets.  The minors are divided into four suits, much like a modern deck of playing cards but they have four court cards instead of three, and tend to represent our everyday life and the people and events within it.  The majors are the cards a novice first thinks of when picturing tarot, such as the wheel of fortune, Death and the lovers, and these represent much deeper archetypes of the human psyche that help us to understand our responses to the information the minors give us.

Oracle cards are much more flexible in their numbering and subject matter. They do not have suits, nor majors and minors, but instead are a collection of cards usually numbering 40-50 that have a meaning created by the deck creator rather than tradition.  Lenormand decks usually have 36 cards and were originally created as a game of chance in Germany, though they now get their name from Marie Anne Adelaide Lenormand who popularised their use in cartomancy (divination with cards) during the Napoleonic era and famously used them to give advice to the leaders of the French Revolution among others, according to Wikipedia!

Choosing a deck can be very overwhelming and tricky, so my first piece of advice is to trust your intuition and see what you are drawn to.  If you are buying from an occult or New Age shop they should either have sample decks you can handle and browse through, or they will have folders with examples of the images that you can browse through.  This is because, like all objects, the more they are handled the more they will imprint with your energy, and nobody wants to work with a deck that has been handled by lots of people.  If you don't have access to samples, check out the internet for images and information and see what takes your fancy.

So you've narrowed it down to one or two decks (or four or five), so what next?  My next tip is to work with what you know.  Most people recommend the Rider-Waite deck as a first deck because it is a classic design and most how-to books use the imagery from this deck to explain what each card means.  Now me?  I'm a contrary madam, and if everyone has something I will ignore it and look for something else.  It doesn't matter if it is a tarot deck or the latest must-have gadget or accessory, I'll make a point of not having it.  This means that even after reading the tarot for over 20 years, I still don't have a classic RW deck, which makes my point of going with what you know even more important.  That Egyptian-based deck may well be gorgeous, but how much do you know about Egyptology?  If the answer is "not much" then you have just made your job a hundred times harder because you need to learn and understand the foundation subject before you can get the most out of reading with that deck.  Sure, you can learn all the meanings from the booklet that comes with the cards (often referred to as the little white book or LWB) but understand the deeper interplay between the cards is what separates a mediocre reader with a truly skilled, intuitive one.  However if you were brought up a Christian you may know what quite a few of the angels represent, so may find an angelic deck easier to work with, or a Druid may prefer a Druidic deck for their first one, or a history geek may find one that matches their favourite era, and so on.

For more information, whether you're a first-time reader or looking to turn your hobby into a business, check out my book, "Working With Tarot", available on Amazon.