A Tarot Tableau
My favorite decks and resources so far.
As a shiny new practicing witch who’s also found her tarot calling, I’ve accumulated a pretty sizable stack of major and minor arcana accoutrements. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that practice is key—pulling cards daily, learning and feeling out what they mean both in general interpretation and to me personally, and getting to know the vibes of my individual decks has been the best starting point for me.
I’m currently working on understanding the basic reading of each card without having to look it up and strengthening my connection with spirit through the pulls before I move on to the nuances of my own interpretations. It’s been an incredibly fascinating experience, and if you’re looking to dip your toe into tarot, here’s where I’ve begun.
Learning the Tarot: Joan Bunning’s book is a wonderful beginner resource that reviews the basics of the arcanas, lays out simple spreads and exercises, and contains some of the best individual card interpretations I’ve found thus far. It’s the guide I reach for again and again.
The New Tarot Handbook: Rachel Pollack is another beloved tarot master—her interpretations are much shorter and more succinct, so they work as a nice accompaniment to Joan’s slightly broader tome.
A Mystical Guide to Practical Magic: Aliza Einhorn’s instructions lean very tarot heavy, and she imparts some wonderful general wisdom for incorporating a tarot routine into your lifestyle.
Popular opinion states that you should be gifted your first tarot deck. I don’t subscribe to that rule—from the initial deck and beyond, it’s more important to me to be cognizant of where I source my cards from (step away from Amazon!) and to support artists by purchasing their work directly whenever I can. I find decks to be an extension of my personality and values—their appeal and use are highly subjective, so research and choose the ones that call to you visually and energetically. Most decks have accompanying interpretation booklets. Here are the six I have on heavy rotation.
Smith-Waite Tarot Deck: Also known as the Rider-Waite deck, this is the most popular classic deck and the one you’ll see referenced most often as the basis of interpretations and designs. There are myriad reproductions; I have the centennial edition.
The Carnival at the End of the World Tarot Deck: I’m completely obsessed with all of Kahn and Selesnick’s surreal creations; this deck is a bit advanced but oh so beautiful—I recommend purchasing the accompanying guidebook. I’m also lusting after their Tarot of the Drowning World, but I need to pace myself!
Etherial Visions Illuminated Tarot Deck: Artist Matt Hughes’ art nouveau-style designs include gold foil stamping. I use them when I want to imbue a bit of added magic to my readings.
The Skeleton Tarot Deck: Cat Rocketship’s drawings are equal parts spooky and whimsical, which is the general mood I aspire to embody.
Pagan Otherworlds Tarot: This insanely beautiful deck by artists Linnea Gits and Peter Dunham is for all my fellow vintage enthusiasts—from the hand-lettered copy to the bonus holographic moon cards to the paper stock, they’re pure art.
Cute Ghost Tarot: These colored pencil ghost drawings are meant to invoke childlike energy and spontaneity, plus I’m a sucker for anything spirit-related—they make me smile.
Biddy Tarot: A wonderful online source for training, readings, and shopping.
Learn Tarot: This is a handy bare-bones snapshot of Joan Bunning’s book that I listed above; it includes all her card interpretations, exercises, and spreads.
Tarot Arts: I tend to splurge on fine art decks (the most Taurus Taurus to ever Taurus, over here!) and this website has some really beautiful collections.
Have a beloved tarot tip, resource, or deck? Tell me all about it in the comments!