This is one of my favorite parts about practicing tarot—choosing your first deck! I like to compare this process to finding a new friend. It’s slow, intuitive and the feeling needs to be mutual for this to work.
There’s also no “right” way to acquire a tarot deck. You can purchase one on a whim at the mall (like I did), inherit one from a family member, or scroll through the lovely images on social media to find a deck that really gets you excited. The main thing here is to do what feels right for you. Everything I say here (and really throughout this course) should be filtered through your intuition. If something resonates, use it! If you feel drawn towards another way, go for it! Tarot is all about following those subtle nudges and impulses, so stay connected to those sensations as you explore the traditions of tarot.
If you’re fortunate enough to have someone in your family who practices tarot reading, ask if he or she has a spare deck for you to use. Magical hand-me-downs are already charged with lots of loving energy, so this is a great way to get your first deck.
You can also ask for a tarot deck as a birthday or holiday gift. Receiving a present is really special, especially from someone you love. The deck of tarot cards your significant other or best friend buys for you will come wrapped in the warm, joyful energy of that relationship. You’ll probably think about that happy memory (consciously or subconsciously) every time you use your cards.
Another way to find a deck of tarot cards is to browse the internet. Pinterest is a fantastic resource for finding new decks, and you’ll find a hundred gorgeous decks on that platform just by searching “tarot card decks”. Amazon is another awesome resource for inexpensive, quality cards. If you go this route, try to see any many of the card images as possible before you purchase the deck. The biggest questions to ask yourself when looking at the card designs are, “Do I like this imagery?”, “Does the artwork bring up strong feelings?”, and “Will the designs on the cards help me connect with the card meanings?”
Not everyone has the luxury of living near a witchcraft-themed store, but if you do, these are excellent places to pick up a new tarot deck. Occult shops typically stock several different decks, along with accessories like tarot cloths (for wrapping your deck and doing different tarot spreads), decorative wooden boxes (for storing your cards), and tarot books to go along with your specific deck. You also have access to the store employees who are probably familiar with the features and imagery of the different decks. Some stores have sample decks already opened for you to hold and shuffle before you make your purchase.
The other benefit of being in the store is you can hold the different boxes in your hands and see if your intuition pulls you towards a certain deck. You’ll know it’s the deck for you if you feel a sense of excitement, anticipation or general positivity when holding the box in your hands.
I personally recommend the Rider-Waite deck to people who are totally new to tarot because each card is packed with symbolism. The meanings of each card illustration are almost self-explanatory because of the level of detail in each card. This deck also comes with a booklet with all the card meanings and keywords, so it’s an all-around great learning deck.
Another reason to start with the Rider-Waite deck is that it’s so common. Many tarot readers and tarot teachers are familiar with this deck. If you study tarot through books, courses or workshops, you’ll likely see the images from the Rider-Waite deck over and over. It’s iconic.
That being said, get the deck that speaks to you. Period. No deck is better than another, and because all tarot decks are structured the same way, you’ll be able to figure out the meaning of the card even if you’ve never seen the imagery on the card.
If you can’t take your eyes off the “The Wild Unknown” tarot deck or you love the vibe of “The Good Tarot” deck, listen to your inner wisdom. Pick the deck that you connect with the most.
One tarot deck to start is just fine, but eventually, you might want to invest in at least three tarot decks—a deck for your own tarot readings, a deck for doing readings for others, and a deck to use for spells.
The reason witches like to use two separate decks for doing personal readings and readings for other people is that tarot decks tend to hold the energy of the querent after the cards have been shuffled and drawn.
Traditionally, you are the only one touching your personal deck of tarot cards, so you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s energy lingering on the cards and affecting your readings. If you do tarot readings for other people, typically the querent will hold the cards, shuffle and cut the deck, getting his or her energy all over those cards. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing—the person you’re reading for might have powerful, positive energy. Still, it will affect future readings if you don’t properly cleanse the deck between readings.
It’s great to have a third tarot deck for spell work so you can take cards out of the deck to use them separately in unconventional ways. Some spells involve burning cards, burying cards, or carrying cards with you as you go through your day.
If you only have one deck, no worries! As long as you take the time to cleanse and charge your cards before and after each use, you’ll be fine!