How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck: A Buyer’s Guide

How to choose your first tarot deck, buyers guide

Choosing a tarot deck can be a really personal experience. Whether you’re new to Tarot card reading or you’ve been learning and exploring tarot for some time, it might be time to get a tarot card deck.

There are so many different and beautiful decks that it can be difficult to know which one to pick. How should you choose your first Tarot deck? 

Choose your first right tarot deck by considering your intentions. Most want to read for themselves or others. If so, a more traditional deck, with images that are easily seen and interpreted and read is better to begin with than a deck with obscure symbolism and mythologies.

A traditional deck like the Rider Deck has more material available for learning to read the deck. You also want to touch the deck, sort it, look at all the cards, if possible, before you finally choose one.

Sometimes the non-traditional decks are very beautiful, but can be more difficult to read. If you find it beautiful and the deck calls to you, then buy it. If you love the feel and look of your deck, you will learn what you need to and accomplish your original intention of reading for yourself or for others or both.

Here’s a summary of what you can consider when purchasing your tarot deck:

  • Consider your motives and your intentions for the deck
  • Know what’s in your deck
  • Think about what you want to gain from owning a tarot deck
  • Choose whether to go digital
  • Decide between modern or traditional?
  • And list your long-term goals for the deck

There is a certain mentality to go into this purchase with that can make it a more fundamental tool in your life.

If you’re interested in tarot, you’ve probably felt connected to a guide that isn’t religious or satanic, but instead – spiritual. Take the process slow and use this guide to get you started.

I’ve also listed a number of related articles at the bottom of this post that you might enjoy.

Table of Contents

Choosing Your First Tarot Deck

If you take tarot seriously in any way, you don’t want to choose the cheapest tarot deck available on Amazon. You want something artistic with high-quality that you can do readings with and enjoy for years to come.

A deck that you can read your friends and family and enjoy a deeper level of conversation that allows you to talk out what you’ve emotionally been going through in a safe environment of genuine openness.

When choosing the right deck for you, I think you should take on the mentality of using them as the tool they are. They will only offer you the amount of energy you put into them. Meaning, if you don’t believe it or don’t care about tarot, it may not be the right resource for you.

Questions you should ask yourself to determine which deck is right for your first purchase are:

  • What am I hoping to gain?
  • Do I believe in this enough for it to be useful to me?
  • Can I read symbolism into these cards and not take everything so literally? (Tarots rarely have a direct meaning, so if you’re going to take each card at face value, you will miss the point).
  • Would I prefer printed cards that I can physically connect with or digital to start?
  • Do I prefer traditional or modern style of art?
  • How much do I want to spend?
  • How long do I want them to last me?

These are all great measurements by which you can select the right first deck for you.

I’m of the belief that you can be spiritual, religious, an atheist, an alien, or believe whatever you want to believe and still gain great insight from tarot cards.

Sometimes we as humans just need to hear it out loud, to see it in a sequence and story to piece together the puzzle of our life. This can be useful, and my advice would be to believe more in the power of yourself than the power of the cards.

With this in mind, you will want a deck that you connect to and find beautiful in some poetic way. That is the best way to choose your first tarot deck and know it is the right one for you.

Whether you’re spiritual or just looking for a simple sign to point you in the right direction, these cards can be an enjoyable and thought-provoking tool for decision-making.

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If you connect to a certain deck above the rest, it’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t leave it behind.

What Do You Want from Your Tarot Cards?

Do you want to believe there is a higher self? Is there a problem in your life you could use some outside spiritual nurturing with?

Think about what you hope to gain from the card.

  • If you’re looking for more peace in your life, I would recommend the Osho Zen Tarot. It has very calming art with a style that is easy to connect within your meditative state.
  • If you’re aiming to connect with a feminine energy within yourself, I would recommend the Mythical Goddess Tarot Deck. With nearly 100 reviews and almost a 5-star rating, one reviewer says, “Glad to have a deck that speaks to me. I love the vibration of these cards. The artwork is truly amazing and is a must-have for women of ethnicity.”
  • If you’re looking to feel more grounded and connected to life, I would recommend the Druid Craft Tarot Deck. It has very intricate and thought-provoking art that allows you to experience a story while being read. This open-endedness can be useful in relating it to many people’s situations. 
  • Through the entire process, you will want to trust your gut and instincts about what feels right and genuine to your predicament. You want a deck that speaks to you directly, or it may not be worth your time. There are times we all need support, so how you use it will be entirely up to you.
  • If you’re worried about it being anti-religious or dark magic, keep in mind that the power of the cards only possesses what you offer to them. Use them like a mirror to look at yourself through new lenses and tap into the wisdom that is already inside of you.

There are many different Tarot decks available. The Rider Waite Smith deck is often best for beginners because there is so much written about this deck and it’s imagery.

If you are interested in looking at Oracle cards as well, you can read this article I wrote comparing Oracle and Tarot cards. You can also purchase a set that includes Oracle and Tarot cards. Check pricing here.

Keep these kinds of intentions in mind while deciding which deck is best suited for your needs. If you’re planning on being a tarot reader, you may want to buy a few different types of sets to suit a variety of clients.

Best Tarot Decks for Beginners

When starting out, some of the best decks for beginners are:

  • If you’re looking for a more broad and abstract deck, I would recommend the Tarot de St. Croix, which has a 5-star review.  One reviewer says, “This is an absolutely gorgeous deck.”
  • Another very simple and useful deck is the Everyday Tarot Mini-Deck. These are great because they are compact and easy to bring with you to different places.  Plus, it’s fun to ask friends if they want a tarot reading and pull out a tiny deck.  Don’t believe me?  Try it sometime.
  • The Universal Waite Tarot Card Deck is a popular variety of the Rider Tarot deck but with re-coloration. One psychic said that after years of using the Rider deck, the Universal Waite Tarot Deck was very easy to move forward and grow into.
  • My Number 1 Choice, Saving the best for last here – one of the most popular decks for newbies that you will commonly see mentioned in forums, blogs, and discussions, is the Rider Tarot Deck. It is not the most artistically interesting deck to look at, but it will be straightforward in the meanings of each card and perfect for those new to the craft.

Some decks will have very abstract, metaphorical cards. One card may have 4-5 components of symbolism in each card and be a very odd and unique piece of art. However, the Rider Tarot Deck will be very direct, to the point, and easy to understand.

One reviewer said about these cards that this is “[Rider Waite Smith deck] is the Deck Everyone Should Learn From! I own my own shop, so I make sure this particular deck is available, among others. When people are just starting out with tarot I highly recommend starting with this deck. When I teach classes, this is the ‘must-have’ deck to learn from.”

One last perk I’d like to mention about the Rider Tarot Deck is that it includes an authoritative resource for which there are multiple comprehensive guides.

There are many higher-quality decks than these, and many more on the market will be more beautiful, more artistic, and last you longer. But these are all great starter options and great for beginners learning the art of tarot.

I wrote a couple of related articles that you might find interesting:

The Myth of Buying Tarot

There is a myth that you can only be gifted cards that have been passed on, and you shouldn’t buy your own deck.

Some also say that you should even have it be stolen for you but never bought for yourself. The superstition says that it will carry negative energy or won’t work for you unless you find it organically.

To this, I say – if you’re seeking out a tarot card deck, your reasons are probably right. I find these kinds of superstitions to be rubbish because if you’re going with the session with good intentions, you will manifest the answer you need.

It may not be the answer you want, but it may be an honest perspective that you need. Again, the cards only have the power that you allow them to have. Purchasing your own, it will enable you to choose one that actually connects to you.

Not to mention, there are tons of 5-star reviews on Amazon alone from people that bought the deck themselves and had great experiences.

Do not let superstitions overrule your good intentions or tell you what you believe.

Digital or Print Deck?

There are many decks you can download digitally if you want to start this way before committing to a physical deck.

Many people have mentioned that they want to feel the boxes, be in their presence to feel their energy, examine the boxes, and really get a feel of the cards. If you are more intimate with physical decks in this way, a digital deck may not be a great starter set for you.

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Pick the card that feels most right to your needs, but perhaps start out with an app like galaxy tarot. This way you can see if you enjoy tarot before adding expenses to this curiosity.

While Shopping for Your Deck

When shopping for your first deck, most experts on tarot say you need to choose the one you’re connecting with the most deeply. Is there a particular piece of artwork that keeps drawing your eye?

If it continues to grab your attention, that’s probably the right deck for your needs. 

Always check for quality and be sure that there are no bent or torn cards. Sometimes vintage decks are sold that may be decades old and have a few blemishes.

This is perfectly fine, but you don’t want an unreadable card that is worthless to you. It may ruin the flow of the entire deck, and some cheaper reproductions can also be torn easily.

If you plan to use your cards often, I wouldn’t recommend going for the cheapest deck. It is as they say, ‘you get what you pay for.’ And if you want them to last, make that reasonable investment in yourself.

What Should Be in Your Deck If It’s Legitimate

Each tarot deck should have 78 cards – so don’t buy it if it doesn’t. It’s not a tarot deck without 78 cards. Each card has its own specific meaning and story.

The best decks have beautiful symbolism and high-quality art that may be less direct or obvious than more beginner-level decks.

In each deck you will find:

  • 56 Minor Arcana Cards – which are the more common daily trials we face. Learn more about the Minor Arcana cards here, in this article.
    • Within the minor set are 40 cards in numerical order in 4 suits of 10 – the daily tribulations, (Swords, Wands, Cups, and Pentacles).
  • 16 Tarot Court Cards – reflecting the 16 personalities we all possess at one time or another 

Here is the complete set of 78 which should be in your deck if it is legitimate, should include the 4 suits, Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles as well as the 22 Major Arcana Cards:

  • Ace of Wands | II of Wands | III of Wands | IV of Wands | V of Wands | VI of Wands | VII of Wands | VIII of Wands | IX of Wands | X of Wands | Page of Wands | Knight of Wands | Queen of Wands | King of Wands
  • Ace of Cups | II of Cups | III of Cups | IV of Cups | V of Cups | VI of Cups | VII of Cups | VIII of Cups | IX of Cups | X of Cups | Page of Cups | Knight of Cups | Queen of Cups | King of Cups
  • Ace of Swords | II of Swords | III of Swords | IV of Swords | V of Swords | VI of Swords | VII of Swords | VIII of Swords | IX of Swords | X of Swords | Page of Swords | Knight of Swords | Queen of Swords | King of Swords
  • Ace of Pentacles | II of Pentacles | III of Pentacles | IV of Pentacles | V of Pentacles | VI of Pentacles | VII of Pentacles | VIII of Pentacles | IX of Pentacles | X of Pentacles | Page of Pentacles | Knight of Pentacles | Queen of Pentacles | King of Pentacles

It is considered more beautiful and traditional to have a deck with Roman numerals, so you will get used to them soon if you’re not yet. You can purchase them with the standard numbers, but it won’t be as vintage, classic, or authentic.

Connecting to Your Deck

Once you’ve found the cards to match your soul, you can begin placing your energy in the deck to really have it be yours. This step isn’t about doing a reading yet, just connecting physically and spiritually to the chosen deck.

I wrote an article about bonding with your Tarot deck.

I listened to a podcast recently where they discussed an online tarot card reader, and the customer asked, “Do you just randomly shuffle the cards and give me the one that pops up?”

The psychic basically responded, “No, we actually put a lot of care into each card chosen for each client. We light candles, sit in a quiet room, and meditate on their question at hand.

Looking at the client’s picture and channeling their specific energy into the deck. It needs to feel unique and connected to each person. This takes about 30 minutes per client, and that is how we choose the card to answer your specific question.”

I found this to be fascinating! By connecting to the cards, you are going to get a more connected reading. Many people truly take this craft seriously and have had amazing readings from taking the time to connect to their cards. I think the best advice I can give you is not to act silly or take it as a joke.

Sit down quietly, perhaps alone, for the first few sessions with your new deck.

I want you to meditate peacefully and truly channel your sincerest intentions into your deck.

Look through them one-by-one and explore each card’s art. Focus on how it makes you feel and what it reminds you of. The artwork will often have hidden meanings you can discover at your own pace.  

After You Buy Your Deck

Now that you’ve connected on a spiritual or solely meditative-way to your cards, you should invest some time in understanding what each of them means.

Important to know – each card will have a two-sided meaning depending on how the card is laid out during the reading.

 If it is upside down, it will have a different meaning than the same card right-side up.

I wrote an couple of articles about cards that are upside down (reversed).

For example, ‘The Lovers’ card signifies passions and strong interpersonal emotions. If it is right side up, it can be about finding some kind of soulmate in our life—someone who completes us.

This may be a person, it may be a religion, or it may mean a new important cause or purpose in your life. These are all forms of positive reading within ‘The Lovers’ card.

If the card is dealt upside down, however, it can mean a splitting in your life or something coming apart. A break-up is the obvious, but it could mean the end of something you strongly believed in, quitting your job, quitting on yourself, or some kind of dismantling happening inside of you.

I don’t think either reading is terrible, and it’s all about what you want to read into each card.  Many people fear the ‘Death’ card, when it’s actually one of my absolute favorites. It signifies the end of something, or the death of something negative in your life.

The death card truly signifies the end of something while clearing space for something new. New life, a fresh start, a renewed outlook. Life cannot exist without death, so the end of something is also the beginning of something.

Read your cards from an empowering perspective and don’t sell yourself short.

If you use the cards to see only the worst in a situation, you will get what you’re looking for.

Here is a fantastic digital source that will break down the story and meaning for each card – tarot card meanings.

I also wrote a couple of articles that explain how learn and work with the Major and Minor Arcana:

The Importance of Companion Books

If you’re fully committed, you will need a companion book.

Many find the book of meanings to be more important than the cards themselves.

This is easily understood because you can have simple artwork, and the cards will be the relatively the same, while the meanings and interpretations for each card have been written in many ways by many spiritual fortune tellers.

You want to find a book of meaning that really connects with you and comes from the perspective you’re seeking.

For example, the Tarot for Self-Care book will say about the High Priestess card, “This is a call to dig deeper.” While Divination and Fortune Telling says about the same card, “The High Priestess represents strong suspicions. Your intuition may be telling you that something in your life is not quite right.”

Not everyone agrees with the meaning of a particular card, which is why I can’t tell you the right book for you. You’ll need to do some research knowing what your purpose for purchasing the cards is.

Ask yourself what you want to understand about yourself more deeply, and purchase a self-care companion book, a romantic companion book, an astrological companion book, or whatever you’re in need of.

Here’s a wonderful set that has the deck and guidebook altogether as one set – The Wild Unknown Deck. With over 1,600 reviews and nearly 5-stars, this deck is beloved by many! I actually own this deck personally and have found it to be a great starter set that is affordable without sacrificing on unique artwork.

Click on the image below to search Etsy for more Tarot Decks:

The Muse Tarot Deck

The Ancient History of Tarot

Originating in the 15th century, “The first documented tarot packs were recorded between 1440 and 1450 in Milan, Ferrara, Florence and Bologna when additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the common four-suit pack.”

They used to be comprised of the face cards commonly: King, Queen, Knight, and a Jack, but at this time were predominately associated with Christianity.

Some argue that tarot dates back to Ancient Egypt, but there isn’t any legitimate evidence for this besides similar cards. The first Egyptian set, dated back around 500 years ago, was surprisingly also based on Christian symbols.

Hunter Oatman-Stanford writes in Mentalfloss

“In France, writer Antoine Court de Gébelin asserted that the tarot was based on a holy book written by Egyptian priests and brought to Europe by Gypsies from Africa. In reality, tarot cards predated the presence of Gypsies in Europe, who actually came from Asia rather than Africa. Regardless of its inaccuracies, Court de Gébelin’s nine-volume history of the world was highly influential.”

Each card had godly imagery, which only overtime has evolved to be more witchy and mystic. Today there are many skeptics, but there are still thousands of gypsy souls that seek to connect with some kind of higher power or divine wisdom.

I also wrote an article about tarot and religion: Are tarot cards religious?

Final Tips to Consider

Focus more on the meanings you want to hear and come from a place of self-growth, not self-criticism. The cards can almost mean whatever you want them to, so take care of yourself during the process and don’t see it as a new way to tear yourself down. See it as a way to get more in touch with what you’re going through presently.

It doesn’t matter if your friends or family hate the deck you chose because it is for you.

Choose a set that you connect with, and it will never be the wrong decision. And if it doesn’t connect to you the first time, give it a few more tries or experiment with other decks and companion books. You may just have a set that doesn’t really suit you.

It may take a deck or two, but you will find the answer to your queries. I suggest you use them as a tool and always hold yourself to a larger power than the cards.

Here are final resources for you gypsy-spirits:

Etsy (Tarot Deck Search) – a website that has a lot of different Tarot decks that have been created by artists and artisans. You could search among hundreds of tarot decks and choose the right one for you.

And here are a few Facebook groups for like-minded souls:

The answers are truly within you, and you have everything you need inside. Happy shopping and happy reading!

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I’d love to hear about your experience.  Please connect with me, after you’ve had a reading…

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