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Buying a Personal Tarot Deck

by Jim Flynn on Jan 4, 2017

Buying a Tarot deck for your personal use is perfectly okay and the most beneficial way to get started with Tarot.  There are thousands of individually illustrated Tarot decks and the student must find one that is right for their own use.  For instance, there is the popular story of an African-American woman who was asked about her Tarot deck preference. She explained that the Rider-Waite deck illustrations depicted white people in pastoral surroundings. Understandably, she felt it wasn’t suitable for her inspirational and meditative use.

It would be several years before the world learned that Pamela Colman Smith, the illustrator of the Rider Waite deck, was an extremely talented black woman.  With the new and growing knowledge of her life, PCS is considered a Saint among Tarot aficionados.  Each of her Tarot illustrations are theatrical stage settings that invite the reader to step on stage and say their lines, if they choose.  Traditional readings connect a specific meaning to each card. 

Now called the Rider-Smith deck it is the most popular since 1969 when Stuart Kaplan of US Games purchased US rights and promoted the fantastic illustrations of Pamela Colman Smith, known as Pixie.  A US citizen living in England, her name and ideas faded into antiquity upon her death in 1951. However, with Kaplan’s success, the 2009 Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set has been selling more than 1.5 million each year since it was first published.  Her work has grown in popularity and understanding every year since then.

Marseille Tarot Grand Trumps is probably the first deck made available commercially.   It is very popular among traditionalists and the one most seen in TV and film scripts because of its simplicity and recognition. The Magus, a 60s-film starring Anthony Quinn, Michael Cane, Anna Karina and red hot, eighteen-year-old Candice Bergin, is a popular example. Fantastic scenery and acting, with an extremely convoluted plot, the film was successful at the box office.  Protagonist Nicholas Urfe, the Cane character, takes a boarding school instructor job on the beautiful Greek Island of Phraxox when the interaction with mystic, psychic Maurice Conchis, the Quinn character, begins. Both the scenery and acting are fatastic.   A knowledge of mythology and Tarot makes the film more interesting.  Woody Allen, when asked what one change he would make if he could live his life over remarked that he would not see theMagus.

When Karl Jung alluded to Tarot cards he was referring to the Marseille deck. Tarot played an important part in his understanding of the human thought process.  He introduced us to concepts such as synchronicity and the collective unconscious. Man, and His Symbols, edited by Jung shortly before his death, is a useful tome for anyone interested in the meaning of dream symbols.

Two of Pentacles suggesting BalanceZack Wong, an Australian Architect, Mystic and graphic artist introduced the Revelations Tarot.  Wong has many fiction and non-fiction books published through Llewellyn Worldwide in addition to the Revelations Tarot. He feels there are many interpretations to the cards.  Tarot, to him, is an inspirational mirror where the reader must gaze into the image of Tarot to draw a distinctive vision.  


Most Tarot readers, especially those using the Waite Smith deck, avoid reading any card as reversed.  A new consensus among Tarot readers points to the utter confusion created by reverse readings. Wong with his Revelations Tarot takes exception to the rule.  Mr. Wong explains, “With fully realized artwork in both upright and reversed positions, the Revelations Tarot is utterly unique in its design and its ability to bring light and clarity to the murky world of the subconscious.” Both illustrations depict the Two of Pentacles, suggesting balance.

Acquiring a deck is a matter of choice.  If you are comfortable with a gift of a Tarot deck, it will be great for a starter and perhaps for life.  Otherwise, peruse the various decks available and purchase your own.  The Rider-Smith deck is by far the favorite.    

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Article Summary:

Buying a Tarot deck for your personal use is perfectly okay and the most beneficial way to get started with Tarot.  There are thousands of individually illustrated Tarot decks and the student must find one that is right for their own use.

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Jim Flynn

Jim Flynn

Jim Flynn, a US Coast Guard vet, is a retired Tradesman. He is the sole proprietor of Seaport E, a B2B service offering Content Management, Value Seach Engine Submission and Optimization, and SeaportDomains.Com, providing Top Level Domain Search and Registration . Jim is actively involved in grass roots, community and legislative action.  Mr. Flynn provides content to publishers upon request.






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