Firstly, let’s bust one myth right out of the water – it is NOT bad luck to buy your cards. No one seems to know where this old wives’ tale originates but I can promise you it’s nonsense. Not long after I bought my first deck of cards my life turned around for the better, and that was over 30 years ago! Personally, I have a feeling it was a superstition created by Occultists to ensure that Tarot reading stayed an unattainable art for the masses. So, with that out of the way, let’s move on to the question at hand – how to choose your first deck of tarot cards.
I can answer this quickly and without reservation, the ideal first deck of cards is the Rider-Waite Tarot. This is because they were originally designed by the Occultist Arthur Edward Waite, illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith and first published in 1909 by William Rider and Son in London. They disappeared for many years and then resurfaced in the 1970s through US Games Inc. Arthur’s only daughter signed over the publishing rights to create the foundation pack for many beginners.
Of course, you can choose whatever cards take your fancy, but if you want to easily memorise the card meanings and transfer that skill to any deck you choose later, the Rider-Waite is the one. Most Tarot books for beginners and Tarot Tutorials use the Rider-Waite for this very reason.
I have taken a small selection of my Tarot cards to illustrate this further. Each deck uses the same selection of the Fool, two of cups and eight of wands. The first two examples pre-date the Rider-Waite and closely resemble the modern playing cards in their suits. The only odd one out is pack illustration Number 6 – The Arthurian, which I add purely out of mischief and to ensure you are paying attention (not really! it strays from the Rider-Waite which demonstrates how different a pack can be)
- Tarot De Marseille
- 1JJ Swiss Tarot
- Universal Waite Tarot
- Morgan Greer
- Arthurian Tarot
- Gilded Tarot
- Everyday Witch Tarot
- Light Seer’s Tarot
As well as their undoubted popularity and consistency across the numerous themes, Rider-Waite are extremely affordable. Tarot cards are expensive to produce and as a result, can be costly to purchase. After you have mastered the basics spreads and memorised your cards you will be ready to venture out to find a deck that enchants you. I usually recommend two packs of Rider-Waite (Waite-Smith) to begin your journey because it helps to write the keywords on the cards whilst you are learning. To save you this expense for your training pack I have a FREE PRINTABLE of the cards. You can download them HERE and start straight away, working through the Tarot Basics freely available on this website. As you’ll be handling them a great deal initially I suggest a good supply of printable plain cardstock.