Today I want to talk a little about Tarot decks and the differences in them. One question I’ve gotten more than almost any other from those unfamiliar with Tarot or those just beginning is a variation of this: “Why do you need more than one deck? They’re all the same, right?” The answer to this is not really a simple one, though. Yes, most Tarot decks are ‘the same’ if you are talking about having 78 cards – the 22 Major Arcana and the 56 Minor Arcana. There are some decks with extra cards or that have renamed the basic suits and some of the Majors. That said, the art in all of them are incredibly different. As an intuitive reader of Tarot this matters! The art in the card tells you the nuances of the message. Yes, you need to have an understanding of what the arcana in the card means, but the art can dramatically change the nuances.
To illustrate this I did a simple past, present, future reading for myself then I pulled the same cards from three other decks. The reading itself was done with the Universal Waite. Then I searched through Dugan’s Witches Tarot, Revelations Tarot, and the New Mythic Tarot and pulled the same three cards.
The first deck I’ll point out is The Universal Waite (the second from the top) has vibrant bright colors with fairly simple illustrations. When I do readings from this deck they tend to be softer and gentler. They typically aren’t as blunt and direct as some other decks. I find that this deck tends to offer a lot of hope and clarity. They are simple messages that are easy to digest many times.
The New Mythic deck, by contrast, is a fairly dark deck. The colors are more earthy and the images are far more intense. When reading this deck I typically get more intense and direct readings. I’ve even been told by clients that readings from this deck tend to be blunt, and sometimes hard to digest, but very useful. These darker and rougher images that draw on Greek mythology are very deep in symbology and tend to have darker shades to the messages themselves, in my experience.
The Revelations Tarot is yet again dramatically different. As you can see from the images below these images are far from the traditional tarot images and they are quite fully. Each card in the Revelations has an upright and reverse image on the card. This allows for some very nuanced and detailed readings. I find when reading from this deck I get more shades of a message than with any other deck. This deck can actually be incredibly challenging because there are so many possible nuances to messages. Yet, when detailed messages are needed, this is my go-to deck!
The last deck in this post is the Witches Tarot (Dugan). This deck has photo collage images. Each of the people depicted is a real photograph integrated digitally into the landscape around it. This allows for very realistic images. These images can lead to a sometimes darker reading than others, and sometimes lighter. I find that this deck adds a powerful human element to the traditional Rider-Waite imagery. These readings often, to me, feel like the words of a close friend speaking. In particular if you notice that The Hermit card of the left shows a far more barren and harsh landscape while the Seven of Wands on the right is far more intense than the traditional one. This is the deck I go to when I need a gentle, reassuring, but truthful message.
I know this is a very quick overview, but my point is to simply point out the difference in decks. This is just four decks. There are hundreds of decks out there, though. Each deck has its own purpose and its own style and not every deck will resonate with every person! In fact, there are sometimes that I find decks that I absolutely love, but then simply cannot connect with them for readings. Take time, find a deck that you connect with and that truly speaks to you.
As always, these are my personal feelings from my own experience. I always am looking to share information and to learn from others, and since this is a question I get frequently I thought I would make this post about it.
Till next time!