Finding the Right Deck

Much will depend on whether or not you are primarily a visual person. The symbolism of the Major Arcana is pretty much the same in all decks, even if it is depicted through different themes (e.g., Celtic, Native American, Japanese, etc.). For some people, the pictures on the Minor Arcana serve as memory aids to the cards’ meanings. Other readers prefer to dispense with storytelling scenarios on the Minor Arcana and are more comfortable with a simpler deck. In some decks it's difficult to tell immediately if a pip card is upright or reversed; in others it's obvious. Look at a number of decks and if one strikes your eye, try it out. Many stores keep sample packs available for you to examine and test before you buy. If you are less adventurous, just start with the Waite deck, as most books about the Tarot are based on those illustrations.

If after using a deck for a while you do not feel entirely comfortable with it and its symbols, get another deck. Feeling an affinity for the deck you are using is essential. You need a deck that will resonate with your own inner symbology, and that is compatible with your own belief system. Therefore, if the symbols make you anxious or uncertain, you have chosen the wrong deck. If you like the imagery—possibly crystals, animals, angels, herbs and flowers, or some abstract configuration—and if it seems to suit your personal point of view and you feel good using it, then you have found a good deck.

You can choose a deck intuitively. A pendulum can help you make the decision successfully, or you can hold a deck in your hands, close your eyes, and see what vibrations come through to you about the deck. Different decks give off different vibrations, and different people receive different vibrations from the same deck. It's a personal decision!

When choosing a deck, bear in mind that in some decks the Minor Arcana cards are not to be taken at face value (when illustrated). As discussed in the previous chapter, there is no historical precedent for illustrating the pip cards; they are not derived from any ancient mystical tradition so far as historians can ascertain. Whether or not you choose a deck with storytelling images on these cards, interpret them first according to their suit and numerical divinatory meanings.

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