The Art of Choosing A Tarot Deck

Whether or not to add another deck to one’s collection is (or should be) a process. Questions that we might want to ask ourselves are:

Why do I want to own this deck?

The reasons here are as diverse as the number of decks out there. They include:

* The deck offers a different style than you currently own (styles here referring to the three basic styles: Rider-Waite-Smith, Thoth, and Marseilles).

* The artwork is appealing, and something that you want to work with.

* The theme of the deck is something that you want to explore (i.e. Goddess, Pagan, Celtic, Dragons, Harry Potter, Vampires etc.).

* You want to expand the types of decks that you are offering your clients as a choice for their reading.

* You are a collector of decks, and a card carrying member of the Tarot Deck 12 Step Program!

Am I just getting caught up in Internet hoopla concerning a deck in progress?

* It is very easy to get caught up in each new deck that comes along. We can admire decks without having to own them. They really need to fill some type of “niche” for us before we seriously consider purchasing something that we may regret.

Does this deck fit into my budget?

* I am a collector of decks, as well as a reviewer of same, so I need to look at where they fit into my budget. Being single, I only have myself to consider, and I love my decks! If I catch a deck in progress, I generally make the decision early as to whether I want to purchase it or not, and I start setting aside money. Things to watch for here are availability of purchasing the deck before it is on the market, and whether the deck is a limited edition. With the limited edition decks, you really do not have time to drag your feet.

* Be at peace with your decision. The cost of the deck is the cost of the deck – there are no negotiations. If you are willing to pay the price, do so gracefully. If for whatever reason you feel that the price is too much, then just don’t purchase the deck. Case closed! I really do not like the discussion that I have been seeing lately about whether a deck is worth the price being charged. The deck creator has every right to charge what they feel is a fair price.

What to look for from an Indie?

“Indies” are decks that are published by their creator(s), as opposed to coming from an established publishing house. Some decks start out as Indies, and are then picked up by major publishing houses (Kat Black’s “Touchstone Tarot”, and Joanna Powell Colbert’s “Gaian Tarot” come to mind here). I love the Indies! The only deck presentation that I have seen that comes even close to an Indie production is Stuart Kaplan’s “Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition”.

Presentation is key with an Indie, and is only limited by the imagination of the creator! Lovely Tarot bags, colorful companion books, companion CD’s (often interactive), digital wallpaper, letterhead, small bags of herbs … the list goes on!

Do your research carefully!

If you are in the market for a new deck, look at everything that is out there, as well as decks that are about to come out. Look at what you are drawn to, what they cost, and what they offer. Some decks may seem expensive, but they offer a great deal more than less expensive decks. Remember to add in the shipping cost – and recognise that this cost is not up to the deck creator! They are charging you what they are being charged to ship their work. If you are ordering from overseas, be prepared to pay more than you would be paying if you ordered from somewhere closer to home. Read the reviews, look at the scans … and make an informed decision!

Grow your collection wisely, according to your own wants/needs. Make sure that it serves you well.

(c) July 2011 Bonnie Cehovet

17 comments on “The Art of Choosing A Tarot Deck

  1. Bonnie, as always, good article. To the point and concise. Good advice.

  2. Thank you! Decks (and books, of course!) are dear to my heart!


  3. Wonderful article! I am a card carrying member of the Tarot Deck 12 Step Program 🙂 I also sell tarot sets through my shop and often buy doubles of favorite decks or decks that are not quite right for me but I feel will appeal to others to build sets around so your suggestions are very appreciated!

  4. Barbara –

    Love those 12 Step Programs! 😉 How great is it that you are also presenting decks to others for possible purchase! I do think that a collection shoul dbe built with intent. 🙂


  5. MaryCollin says:

    I love your work Bonnie. Yes I’m a definite 12 step programme card carrier. I’ve finished another Tarot Meetup tonight. Shared a great evening, reading, sharing stories & selling decks too. TABI conference this weekend. Loving it Thanks Bonnie 🙂

  6. Mary –

    Thank you for the kind words! Love us 12 Step people! You certainly are no slacker int he Tarot world yourself! 😉 I am so hoping to be at TABI next year! I would consider selling my firstborn, but I don’t have children! Small blip in that plan! 😉


  7. Corniss says:

    Thank you for this article. I have found your reviews a reliable guide regarding what, in general, a given deck has to offer. I am also still quite pleased with the ISIS Marseilles deck I bought on your recommendation; I intended to acquire a TdM, but your slide show really intrigued me. I had imagined picking something cheap that didn’t repulse me and using it for study and comparison, but I ended up with a charmer taht is becoming increasingly fun to read with. A la Mary Greer, I am inviting the ISIS to all my Court Card Beach Parties. I’ve been enjoying the positive buzz about ISIS lately, but frankly, I’m enjoying the deck more.

    Counting the “Inner Child” Deck I bought used years ago and have never really used, I now have as many decks as I have children. though I would never sell off any of the latter for the former. That wouldn’t be a fair trade anyway, as my children tend to come and go as they please these days.

    I am still awaiting arrival of a Llewellyn version of the Gaian tarot that I ordered months ago, as well as a Morgan-Greer, which I liked at the time I made the order. That’s quite enough for now, but it is amazing how many appealing decks there are. I will try to hold off on acquisitions mode until Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe deck gets published mainstream.

    In the meantime, I will try to stay satisfied learning to read the decks I have and reading your marvellous reviews.

  8. Corniss –

    I am happy that you are enjoying the ISIS Marseilles deck as much as I am! 🙂 I also have the “Inner Child” deck, and dearly love it. Kind of like “old home week” reading with it! 😉 The Morgan-Greer is my working deck – a true friend. 🙂 I still have to order the Llewellyn version of Joanna’s “Gaian Tarot”. I have her Major’s only deck, as well as the full deck. Indies rule as far as presentation goes! 🙂 I love the “Shining Tribe”, primarily because it does take me out of my place of comfort! 😉


  9. Corniss says:

    I met with someone in J-lem recently, by way of our mutual interest in the Gaian tarot and Johanna’s marvelous wevsites. She had one of the indie sets, and told me all about the fabulous presentation, about which I also read in your reviews. It was a memorable afternoon. Anyway, with all the buildup on Johanna’s blog, I am more than ready for my copy of the Gaian tarot. Johanna has been sending out a 78-card “Card a Day” e-mail in honor of the Llewellyn publication, but now I hear from my sister that the deck is now out. (As my sister noted memorably, “They’re heeee—eere!”)

    Anyway, anticipation has never been so good. Going from RWS to Anna K gave me a sense that my readings were perhaps lacking the darker colors of the palette, but again, the Gaian tarot has an approach that is, well, HEALTHY, and which, I think, will go over well with Israelis. Medieval Christian clerical symbolism does nothing for my friends here, but people relate so much to the essence of life through their connection with nature and with family and friends. And the Gaian is one of the least whiny decks I have met, which should also strike a chord locally.

    Glad to hear that Morgan-Greer has a warm spot in your heart; I am sure I read the reviews and I know I liked the clean lines, the faces, and the borderless look.

    I have to say that tarot has been a great way to make serious contact with my teenagers and their friends, although not just that. My youngest (aged 14) was particularly touched when I showed her Johanna’s daily card for “the Seeker”, read her the description, and said the card reminded me of her, which it does. Tarot can be a non-threatening way to say to one another, “I see you”, even at a stage of life when relationships are NORMALLY strained and distant.

  10. Corniss –

    Joanna’s deck more than meets the buildup expectations. 🙂 Of course, it means a great deal to be as the background for the deck is taken fromt he Pacific NW, which is where I live.

    I don’t imagine that medieval Christian clerical symbolism would go over well in Israel. 😉

    Tarot is, for me, anyway, a great way to connect with diverse people. It spans the age difference, and emphasises the similarities, rather than the differences. 🙂


  11. Tujtdmmk says:

    Where are you calling from?

  12. Cvkctsrv says:

    What do you like doing in your spare time?

  13. Loeiejtz says:

    I’ll send you a text

  14. I collect tarot for the art. If I like the art I will buy the deck. Now, just because I like what it LOOKS like does NOT mean it will work well for me. LOve your blog 🙂

  15. My partner and I stumbled over here from a different page and thought
    I may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
    Look forward to looking into your web page repeatedly.

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