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How to Choose the Right Tarot Deck for You

By Tina Gong


With hundreds of tarot decks out there, it can be rather overwhelming to choose one that truly fits with you or your reading style. Although each tarot deck has a similar source, they are all so different in their style, symbolism and general feeling their readings evoke. We’ll go through some tips that you can use to select the right tarot decks for you.

Find a Tarot Deck That Speaks to You

One of the most obvious things you’ll have an immediate reaction to is the particular artwork style and symbolism. This can be as simple as being drawn towards more simple, modern lines, colorful and contemporary, detailed drawings, or even vintage inspired cards. Tarot decks also oftentimes come with themes as well. Whether it’s cats, dragons or vampires, there’s likely a tarot deck that exists out there for it. If you find yourself drawn to the same deck over and over again, follow your instincts and go for it.

Ensure It's a Tarot Deck: Check the Number of Cards

It may be rather confusing for new readers to know that not all spiritual card decks are tarot. There are Lenormand decks, and oracle cards, and they are very different from the tarot, even though they are used in similar ways. A tarot card will generally have 78 cards, sometimes 79 or 80 if the artist decides to create their own signature card for the deck. Oracle cards vary, since those cards don’t follow a particular structure and generally have more variance. Lenormand cards will generally have 36 cards. It is important to know which type you’re using, as each have their own particular purpose.

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Preview Tarot Card Imagery

Do a little research and see whether you can find the cards online. You’ll get a better idea of what the imagery looks like within each card and whether it’s right for you. With so many resources online, you’ll be likely to find the information you need. While nothing will replace having a hard copy, sometime tarot decks will have their own apps, and this can be a great way of getting acquainted with the deck without having to spend a lot of money for it. That means, that you can buy the hard copy version once you’ve already developed a relationship and felt that this is the right tarot deck for you. All Labyrinthos tarot decks are available digitally within our free app.

Choose a System: Rider Waite Smith, Marseille, or Thoth Tarot Decks

When it comes to tarot, you may think that every tarot deck is based off of the same 78 tarot cards, but this isn’t always true. In tarot, there are several traditions, which change sometimes the order of the cards, the source meaning, and even the name. The Rider Waite Smith tradition is the one that we most commonly see here in the English speaking world. Most tarot decks today are based off of this tradition, where the images are illustrative. The Marseille is the tarot tradition that stems from France, and is older than the Rider Waite Smith. Those cards use simple pip cards for the suits, so it may be more difficult for beginners to read. Finally the Thoth tradition interweaves many esoteric and metaphysical ideas into the cards, including Astrology and Kabbalah. If you’re new, we recommend you start off with the system that most people will recognize, the Rider Waite Smith. But keep in mind these other traditions when you’re ready to expand your knowledge of tarot!

Private and Public Tarot Decks

Are you looking for a tarot deck for your own readings? Or are you looking for a deck to publicly read tarot for others? Personal decks are often separate from the tarot decks that we use to read for others. Some readers don’t like other people touching their personal tarot deck, since that one feels intimately bound to them. If you’re reading for other people, you may want to use cards that are a bit flashier, with bold colors, or bright details that can draw others into the imagery. You may also want artwork that feels approachable. Readers also may have several tarot decks to use publicly, allowing their clients to choose one that they are the most drawn to.

Explore Different Tarot Deck Sizes

Tarot Decks can come in many sizes, including oversized cards to give the images full center stage, or miniature sized decks for portability and smaller hands. Standard decks are about 7cm x 12cm (2.75 inches x 4.75 inches), but you may prefer smaller or larger decks.

Explore Different Tarot Decks

You don’t have to feel bound to just one. As you develop as a reader, you’re likely to find that many different tarot decks speak to you. Many readers often have more than one tarot deck, each with their own voice and particular topic that they excel at. Sometimes, if you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, you may want a deck that is more compassionate and kind. Other times, you may want a tarot deck that lays out the truth in simple, frank terms. As you work with the cards, you’ll discover each tarot deck’s particular voice. There are other readers that may even want to combine different decks together for a single reading! The possibilities are truly endless.

You Can Buy Your Own Tarot Deck

Finally, this is something we do get asked a lot. You may have heard the superstition that you should only own tarot decks that were gifted to you, but we don’t believe that should be the case. One thing you’ll notice throughout the Labyrinthos site is our approach to tarot as a psychological tool that helps you better learn about yourself. In the end, that’s all the cards are. They have no power outside of the power that you — the interpreter, the seeker, and the one who wields true magic — give it. Tradition and ritual connect us to our past, but they don’t have to limit you. If you’re lucky enough to be able to ask another person for the tarot deck you want, do so! If you can’t, but have been craving a particular tarot deck, just get it. What matters more is your particular connection to the cards.

How to Choose a Tarot Deck Infographic

How to Choose the right tarot deck for you - an infographic

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  • Brittany Rogers
    So I own the rider Waite tarot deck by us games and the smith Waite tarot deck that’s borderless. I’m running into this problem. No deck feels just right. I desperately want a giant rider Waite tarot deck without borders. But I can’t find one and ive heard to modify it myself but I don’t trust myself. Are there places who will allow you to take a deck and modify it? Do I need to just keep trying to cut the borders off the giant rider Waite deck?
  • Nicky
    Hah, I haven’t checked your blog before buying mine. From you. When you first posted your Arcana Iris Sacra, i felt something. It was The Deck for me. I started learning about it as soon as it was included in the app. And finally I bought it as a gift for myself. The feeling I got when opening the package was amazing. ❤️ I still haven’t bonded with it because of lack of time, but I want to offer some free readings to friends (that’s why I came to the blog today in the first place – to revise some simple spreads :D). The only thing I would add: there are different levels of “personal”. It doesn’t have to be you vs everyone. You can limit the scope yourself. Eg I wouldn’t feel comfortable giving readings with this deck to just anyone, it doesn’t just feel right, I can do readings to some friends and I feel comfortable with it. _

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