Before You Buy a Tarot Deck, Read This
When it comes to the Tarot, which deck do you pick? It’s a question everyone asks themselves, and there are all sorts of rules about how to pick your deck (for example, some people say the best decks are the ones gifted to you) But sometimes, you may find the deck you have doesn’t speak to you—and it’s important to search until you find one that does. Here, writer Sasha Brown-Worsham shares her journey to find a tarot deck that worked for her life—and her surprise at the journey to find it. — Horoscope.com editors
The first tarot deck I ever used was my mother’s Motherpeace deck in the mid 1980’s. The deck of round cards was my mother’s oracle. She pulled them out any time she was facing a problem or I was having issues at school and I came to know their beautiful, feminist (if also macabre) images like the back of my hand. The diverse, beautiful images of women from all over the world. The earth mothers and priestesses with their leopard clothing, the Earth mothers and bathing beauties, the women spread open in order to birth new life. It was the only deck my mother could work with.
But for me? It never worked. Later, when I started reading tarot myself, I learned there are hundreds of different decks of all different styles and while the Rider-Waite deck is the most famous, it’s not always the one to use.
But it’s not the only deck.
Google the words “tarot decks for sale” and hundreds of choices will appear. Animal tarot. Goddess tarot. African tarot. Even vampire tarot. The choices are endless. And in the end, the deck you read from is more about the energy and the personality of the reader than it is about the deck.
The right tarot deck calls to you. There are so many choices on Amazon, but for most who read, it’s very important to hold the deck and feel the energy. How does the deck make you feel? Do you feel drained or energized? Like you have come home or like you are out in the cold? When I use the Rider-Waite deck, none of the pictures speak to me so my intuition is limited. So much of reading tarot is about the connection and the intuition of the person interpreting the deck. It has so little to do with the literal interpretation on the card.
When I first started reading tarot, I bought a book and tried to memorize the meaning of every card. Every card was literal and my readings were stilted and didn’t ring true. When I held each card and meditated on it, when I allowed my own thoughts to override the literal meaning, my readings started to bring more clarity. When I started seeing the cards less as an oracle and more as a tool to tap into my own strength and intuition, I started gravitating toward certain decks over others. Right now, my favorite deck is a unicorn deck I was given by a writer I love. They are simple and straightforward, but the cards have enormous meaning for me.
Each morning, I pull a card, hold it in my hand and against my heart and I breathe in the energy. Then I look at the picture and see what it means to me. Sometimes I am looking for strength. Sometimes I see my own vulnerability and sometimes I see my own power. I repeat affirmations as I place the card back in the deck. Sometimes I pull another.
Reading tarot doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s all about allowing the right deck to find you at the right time. In a bookstore. As a gift. In a spiritual store. It’s about patience and trusting yourself.
When I was 16, we had a Brazilian foreign exchange student who used a deck of regular playing cards as her tarot. We were all riveted by her readings and moved by what she saw in the cards for us. She saw boyfriends and babies and happiness and struggle in the faces we know as the King of Spades and the Jack of Hearts. I’d look at them and puzzle, turning the card around in my hands. How did this one mean what she said it did? How did that work?
“You are overthinking it,” she’d tell me. And I wondered if I was. If the mystery was less about the cards and more about her. She was almost always correct in her interpretations. And she didn’t need anything other than a $1.99 deck of cards.
I could read all the books on tarot in the world, but if I wasn’t practicing my own personal connection with the cards, I wasn’t going to grow.
The truth is, that’s all tarot is, a tap into our own personal power. We all have the energy and the intuition to read the cards for ourselves and others. But the connection to the deck is what makes that intuition come alive. When you love the visual images and you feel connected to them, the rest is easy. Whatever you see becomes personal. It’s about energy. It’s about connection.—by Sasha Brown-Worsham
Sasha Brown-Worsham is a writer and editor and yoga teacher whose work has been featured in The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Boston Globe, and countless other publications. She was the lifestyle editor at both Cafe Mom and She Knows Media for many years and was also a staff writer at both publications. Find her on Instagram. Previously, Sasha Brown-Worsham wrote about why she taught her 7 year old to reat the Tarot.
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