A friend asked me to talk a little about the decks we've collected and my favorites. As I mentioned before, I'd strongly suggest either following the links I have to Amazon on this page to look over the decks that may interest you, or else go to Aeclectic Tarot for a really diverse library of decks. Of course, since I might possibly earn a few pennies, I always appreciate someone using my Amazon links!
A further disclaimer, as such. My lady love Cat Dancing has a much more in depth Tarot blog. She is the pro, after all. I'm learning from her, but I am only the grasshopper!
When Cat and I first met, I had already collected twenty seven tarot decks, I love the art, and I could get them rather cheaply, some at Half Price Books, some at garage sales and Goodwill. When we started talking, this is one of the things that intrigued Cat about me. I loved the cards, but really knew nothing about them metaphysically, whereas she had been a student and reader of Tarot for some time already.
As of today, combined, we have fifty decks of tarot and divination cards. This only includes two duplicate sets that Cat and I both already had. The list follows, in no particular order.
Tarot of the Cat People
Robin Wood Tarot
Thoth Tarot (2 sets)
Pearls of Wisdom Tarot
Arthurian Legend Tarot
Sensual Wicca Tarot
Witchy Tarot (miniature deck)
White Cats Tarot (miniature deck)
Ancient Tarots of Bologna
Rock Art Tarot
Barbara Walker Tarot
Native American Tarot
Rider - Waite - Smith Tarot
Don Clemente Tradicional (Spanish deck, minors only)
Tarot of Dreams
Legacy of the Tarot
Tarot of the Imagination
Medieval Scapini Tarot
Silicon Valley Tarot
Medieval Enchantment Tarot
Da Vinci Enigma Tarot
Cosmic Tribe Tarot
Lord of the Rings Tarot
Flash Card Tarot
Robert M. Place Vampire Tarot
Druid Craft Tarot
Gypsy Witch Fortune Telling Playing Cards
Sacred Path (Oracle type deck)
Brian Froud: Faerie Oracle
Goddess Oracle (2 sets)
Animal Medicine (oracle)
Mermaids and Dolphins Oracle
Caroline Myss Archetype Cards (oracle, somewhat)
Love Cards (oracle)
Buckland Domino Divination Deck (not tarot)
Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards (kind of tarot, kind of not)
Box of Dreams (dream symbol cards)
There they are! That doesn't include several sets of standard playing cards, also sometimes used for divination.
Now for the favorites. Cat Dancing really likes the Gilded Tarot for most of her professional reading. So much so, that she has recently ordered a replacement deck of the Gilded. She has literally worn out her previous deck. Ciro Marchetti is the artist of the Gilded Tarot, as well as the Legacy, and Dream Tarots listed above. His artwork is incredible! For some of her personal work, Cat uses the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot, and has started working some with her new Shadowscapes deck. She often pulls out the Robin Wood deck and others to use in her classes.
For myself, my longest running favorite has been the Sensual Wicca Tarot. I like the images, and there is an "inner" story happening in the cards that is always intriguing.
I find myself often referring back to the basic Rider - Waite - Smith deck. This deck has been the basis for most other decks out there since it first came out in 1909. I love the art in all the other decks, but the illustrations in the RWS deck are literally in the "one picture equals a thousand words" category. If I am puzzled on a card in another deck, I will go to the RWS deck and it straightens me out!
Another "study help" deck that both of us often find ourselves looking at is the Flash Card Tarot, by Linda Nadeau. It has simple, but evocative illustrations, and the back of each card also has a concise description of what the card represents, a mnemonic, and questions often related to the card. Most tarot decks come with some sort of book, the Flash Card Tarot is its own book! One more deck I work with occasionally is the Cosmic Tarot. The art is visually interesting, but sometimes it gets in the way of study. As interesting as it is, some of the illustrations don't, to me, really work with the more traditional meanings of the cards. If, however, I'm working with a "storytelling" spread, it works very well sometimes. See my previous posts about using the Tarot in writing!
As I've stated in other posts, my two newest decks have occupied much of my attention lately. The Vampire Tarot by Robert M. Place, and the Druid Craft Tarot by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm. It's too early to tell if I will use them actively in classes or elsewhere, or simply enjoy the art.
Oftentimes in various Tarot Classes or Workshops we will take several different decks. We'll work with one principally, and lay out the corresponding cards from other decks just to compare the various artist visions. Different scenes evoke different responses from people. As it is, a class of eight students will often have eight different types of decks. It is always interesting to compare.
The other "basic" tarot deck is the Thoth deck. Aleister Crowley conceived the deck, the pictures were painted by Lady Frieda Harris between 1938 and 1943. The deck is similar, but a bit different from the RWS deck. There are the same number of cards, 78, but many have different names and a slightly different order. Many readers use the Thoth deck, I've had trouble getting used to it. The art work is wonderful, but a bit on the abstract side.
The "non tarot" decks we have are mostly some sort of "oracle" deck. Oracle cards have the same concept of tarot, but don't usually have the same number of cards, nor are they usually divided up into suits.
One of the more interesting of the "sort of not-tarot" decks is the Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards. I haven't spent as much time as I'd like to with this intriguing deck. The 25 cards are quartered diagonally with different colorful patterns, not unlike quilt blocks. As they are laid out, they match, or don't, the cards next to them, and that shapes the reading. If you want to do your divining differently, it might be worth a try.
I can't say enough about taking Tarot Classes. We are blessed to have several really good teachers here in Austin, Texas. Being Teacher's Pet, I go to all of Cat Dancing's classes, of course. She has a regular one on the fourth Monday of each month. Suzanne McAnna is another teacher here both Cat and I learn from. She and Cat also teach classes and workshops together quite often.
Books are also great. As I've mentioned in the past, some of the best books on Tarot to go to are written by Rachel Pollack, Corinne Kenner, and most especially Mary K. Greer. A.E. Waite's book "Pictorial Key to the Tarot" also has a permanent place in my library. I even have a PDF version available constantly. I admit the original copy seemed a bit hard to understand when I first attempted it as a teen, but now I find it very handy. (Of course, back then I wasn't as interested in the "reading" aspects of the cards.)
See you in class!