Author: Patty Tomsky
As a multi-decade Tarot aficionado, I have to avoid the magickal stores (don’t you love that spelling? I know I do!) around town to stay within my fun-money budget.
Over the years, I’ve been known to gift Tarot decks to people when my spirit gets a little nudge about a person’s journey. That means my many beloved Tarot decks are in rotation around the universe. That’s got to be a good thing, right?
The beauty of there being so many Tarot decks in the world is that they can be used for different purposes and moods. And while some Tarot deck artwork might really call to you, others might not be the right fit for your journey.
For example, I can get a little frisson of discomfort when I’m out at the magickal store and I come across a Tarot or oracle deck that seems pretty dark, with little relief. And recently, while opening a deck that I had ordered online, I dropped it to the floor like it was a big, vicious spider. The artwork freaked me out.
If you like horror movies, vampires, werewolves and other night creatures, there are many super cool and creepy Tarot decks out there with those themes. But as a Tarot practitioner and spiritual traveler, I know when I’m handling something that’s uncool for me.
If you have many Tarot decks, you will get to know them like you get to know your friends. You will ascertain which are good for which purpose.
Some decks seem to lend themselves to self-readings for personal growth or introspection. Others have images that remind you of common questions you get when you are reading for other people.
Still others seem to focus your mind, with images that evoke meditative states and thus are best for Tarot meditations.
In owning multiple Tarot decks, my goal is to continue learning about the cards. Even though I’ve studied them for over 35 years (yikes!), different decks have expanded my understanding of their imagery.
The text in their booklets can also help me discover new reverberations of meaning and additional depth for my readings. Oracle decks have also expand my ability as a medium and a psychic by opening doorways into spirit realm using different traditions and spiritual paths.
Here are some of the Tarot decks that I’ve found fun and/or useful in my journey. They just might be inspiring for you, too!
Fangirl Tarot Decks
There are mermaid decks and spider decks and owl decks and crow decks. There are manga decks and fairy tale decks and Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings decks, too.
I love all these decks for a lot of reasons. But when they’re done well, the fangirl or guy who is into them can gain lots of insights from which character is on which cards.
For example, in my Lord of the Rings Tarot deck, Gandalf is the Emperor. He’s kind, stern, and always looking out for the little people.
In the Tolkien universe, Gandalf is not to be messed with. Yet he is also sad, and brave, and all-too human at times. He brings the best fireworks to parties, after all!
Many times, the Emperor as significator is seen as a Godlike figure — as a stern and unmoving authoritarian. It can also mean the querent is having issues with authority, or with oppressive systems of power.
With Gandalf as Emperor, I uncover gradients of meaning as a self-proclaimed Tolkien nerd. And it allows me to step outside of the conscribed “classical” meanings I’ve worked with almost all my adult life.
The Waite Tarot Deck
Here’s the one I go to because that’s how I learned the cards. If I’m tired or not feeling too intuitive, these cards have the most potential for me as a reader to go inward and find my focus.
This is likely because I know this deck so well. But it could also be because the archetypical images stimulate our collective psyches as humans.
All I know is if I have a deck that’s too fancy-pants or too thematic (far from the “classic” meanings) I sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Other times, a strange and new deck brings expanded meaning to a reading.
Each Tarot lover decides when and if to stay with a tried-and-true version, or blaze a path into new imagery, meaning and spiritual resonance. Only you can decide when and if you want to stray from the deck you learned on.
Earth-Based Spirituality Tarot Decks
Because I’ve studied and practice earth-based spirituality, these decks resonate for me.
I find these cards to be especially good for interpersonal relationships (love readings) and broad-based, whole-life questions from first-time querents.
In many of these, querents won’t get the super “scary” Devil or Death cards from the Waite Deck that can be intimidating.
Plus, I can draw on my knowledge to deepen and widen the traditional meanings of the cards.
Judeo-Christian Oracle Tarot Decks
These can be odd for Tarot readers who have an aversion to the symbology or misogynistic history of the tradition. I love Judeo Christian artwork, and the way it corresponds to Jungian archetypes.
These archetypes are the basis of the traditional Tarot as well. I have read a lot of Doreen Virtue, too, and appreciate her worldview when dealing with Christian iconography.
Within the past few years, she’s become a born-again Christian and is vehemently “against” her former work as a new age practitioner. I don’t sit in judgement of her choices, now or then, and I still use her cards (even though she might now judge me for doing so!
Anyway, I think her psychic gifts made their way into the decks and the text in the booklet when she was creating these.
I’ve also found them really good at telling the future. There are scads of oracle cards out there and they’re not strictly Tarot but they may be good for people who are trepidatious about Tarot in the first place.
And who knows, maybe the recovering Catholic girl inside me still digs them!
Medicine Tarot Cards
Oracle decks are often a good complement to Tarot. I used the oracle deck, Medicine Cards, for many years to excellent effect.
I like to pull one for my Tarot altar, and leave it on there because the art is so arresting. My spirit guides are the owl and the otter (perfect for a Gemini bluestocking).
I have loved these cards since I was a teenager, and they’ve served me well. That said, there’s certainly an element of cultural appropriation to this deck’s artwork, so it’s not for everyone.
Playing Cards as Tarot Decks
If you want to liven up your next post-Covid gathering, take out a deck of playing cards and do a Tarot reading with them.
The suits correspond to the Tarot but there are obviously no Major Arcana cards. A refresher: wands are clubs; cups are hearts; swords are spades; and pentacles are diamonds.
You really have to know your suits. but you’ve got that covered in the Writual Card Lessons, don’t you?
If you go blank, just let your intuition run free. You’re at a party, right? Have fun!
Which Tarot Deck is Right For You?
As far as I’m concerned, all of that woo-woo stuff about not letting your Tarot decks go without a cleansing, or needing to store your deck in black silk that has never touched iron is a bunch of hooey.
If you enjoy special rituals when it comes to your Tarot deck, the more power to you! I personally chuck my decks in my beach bag with a rubber band around them and call it good.
In my experience, you’ll find out pretty quickly if a new deck is working for you. You can always find a different one to “fill in the blanks” in your practice.
By that I mean, if you’re having issues with career/business readings you can find a deck that feels more earth-based and sacral chakra based — and use it for those readings. Meanwhile, Angel decks’ romantic and interpersonal imagery are fun for relational and romantic readings.
Trial and error yield more insights as to when to use which Tarot deck.
As you experiment with new decks you might find they address the concerns you have had in your spiritual journey. The right deck just seems to find the right practitioner. So cool how the universe does that!
I’m always excited to see other people’s decks in the Writual Society, and seeing how our community members use them to create a personalized journey with this marvelous tool we call Tarot.
About the Author
Patty Tomsky reads Tarot and works as a medium as Lila Satori, a magical persona that means “creative play.” Patty has practiced Tarot since 1985. She specializes in trauma-healing Tarot, female-identified empowerment, grief healing mediumship, and goddess-centered meditation practices. She's also a published poet, fiction writer, and memoirist. Find her on IG at @lila.satori, and on Facebook at Colorado Springs Tarot. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.