Your First Deck
There’s this really pervasive myth that your first tarot deck should be gifted to you. I don’t know where this comes from, but to me that seems a lot like gatekeeping. I wouldn’t have gotten started in tarot if I had waited around for someone to gift me a deck. I don’t know anyone in my personal life who is interested in tarot, so this myth seems like a way to keep it inaccessible to most people.
When picking a deck for the first time, I recommend picking something that really appeals to you personally. This is another reason why waiting for a deck to be given to you doesn’t really work. If you don’t like the artwork of the deck, you won’t use it.
If you have the opportunity to look through the images on each card, whether in a physical store, or by looking it up online, you will have a much better idea of whether a deck is right for you. Don’t only focus on whether you like the art, but also if you are able to get a good sense of the symbolism or meaning of the card. You want a deck that gives you instant messages, not one that leaves your head a bit cloudy.
When you’re just starting out, it can be good to have access to a Rider Waite Smith deck. You can just check the images online if you like, but many tarot books are centred around the symbolism of the RWS. Being able to quickly check what a particular card looks like can really help you learn at first.
You can have one deck or many, just beware of becoming addicted to buying new decks all the time! Indie decks can be pricey, so if you can only afford a cheaper mass-produced or second-hand deck for now, don’t worry. All that I would ask is that you don’t buy a deck from somewhere like Wish or AliExpress. They are all poor quality faked versions of existing tarot decks, which takes revenue away from the artists, creators, and publishers of the real deck.
There’s so much information online that buying tarot books isn’t exactly necessary. But if you’d like to deepen your knowledge or learn a little history and context behind the cards, I do recommend picking up a book such as Seventy-eight Degrees of Wisdom which is pictured above. Here are a few popular tarot books you might like to take a look at:
For more ways to learn tarot, check out the Resources page of this blog.
If you take no other advice from this blog, please at least do this: keep a tarot journal! Write out your spreads and what meanings you took from them. Monthly readings are a great way to reflect on how your life is going, and you can also do readings for events such as birthdays, moon phases, or any other special occasion or event. Keep notes, little messages to yourself, stories, anything you like. You can use any notebook, but if you need something more guided, Liminal 11 are coming out with this tarot journal soon.
You can of course just keep your cards in the original box. But some boxes are a little flimsy, and if you want to take your cards out and about, consider a tarot wrap or pouch. There’s an old myth that you have to keep your tarot deck wrapped in black silk. As luxurious as that sounds, you want something that is easy to access so that you can quickly and easily use your tarot deck whenever you feel like it. In the caption of the image at the top of this post, I’ve linked some storage options that I really like. Etsy is a great resource, especially for supporting small and home businesses.
Having your own little ritual for practicing tarot helps to make it a mindful and relaxing experience. You should do whatever you are most comfortable with, but it can be nice to set out a cloth, get a cup of tea ready and take some deep breaths before drawing cards. Reading cloths draw you into the spread that you’re looking at and help to prevent you from losing your cards. Again, Etsy is a great resource, but if you have any furoshiki they’re the perfect shape and size to use as a tarot cloth, and also to store and carry around your deck.
I really like this card stand I found on Etsy. I recommend beginning a new tarot practice by drawing a daily card. If you’re able to display that card somewhere you can see all day, it will help you to keep the meaning in mind, and to apply it to the rest of your day. You could keep it in your journal or your wallet if that works for you. Just don’t lose it!
If you are an experienced tarot reader, what do you wish you had known when you started? What has been most useful for your practice? I’d love to hear some tips and tricks.