Category Archives: Tarot

About reading Tarot cards

What is the best tarot deck for a beginner?

Alice_by_John_TennielI’m often asked “Which tarot pack should I buy?”.  So I thought I’d set my ideas down for others to draw from. Choosing your first deck is not always simple- there is a daunting array of tarot packs out there and none of them may necessarily ‘speak to you’ at first.

To help you decide what attracts you to Tarot in general, and which decks might suit you specifically- which of these statement fits you the most? Yes I know, many people feel a combination of all these factors, but if you had to pick one…



1. I want to learn to read tarot for myself and friends for guidance and spiritual insight



2. I love the beauty and history of tarot decks, I’d like to start collecting rare or artist’s decks



3.I want to use tarot to trigger my own creativity, for storytelling, artwork- maybe even create a deck myself. I’m not too fussed about reading the future.



4. I want to use the tarot for magical purposes, or meditation within a particular spiritual tradition.



5. I already have shamanic, psychic or visionary training and experience and I’m hoping that tarot cards will help inspire and guide my existing abilities.


 The Short Answer

If you answered 1 or 4, you are likely to need to study some books about Tarot card meanings, even if you’re being taught in a group or by an individual. You should choose a Rider Waite Smith (RWS) style deck, or a Marseilles style tarot deck, simply because these are the decks that most books are referring to.

If you answered 2, 3 or 5, then you don’t need to read many books to explain the meanings in  your tarot cards. Choose a deck that fascinates you, and learn about its history and creator if you wish.

Click here for the long answer

Thoth / Marseilles Fool

marseiilesfoolI was actually researching  some iconography of The World when The Fool came up 😉

I was chasing the origin of the donkey that plays the harp (he turns up in Romanesque frames of the Heavens/ City of God)  and ran into this character:

I was struck by how much he seems to be referenced in the Thoth deck- sharply contrasting Waite’s very Apollonian Fool.  I went digging back in Uncle Al. No direct mentions (though asses abound) but I feel sure he’s there. The image does look kind of flayed- no eyelids. Full of wind and wine. A variant of Pan/Bacchus associated with freedom of speech. A very Thelemite hero.

And of course the Marseilles fool in his Phrygian cap is depicted with something tearing off his layers- the ambiguity of clothing and skin persists across the early variants. Of course that could just be the stripping of a sacrificial cereal deity, but maybe that cap has asses ears underneath?

Jungians- note the connection with Wise Old Guide.

Does anyone know if Marsyas has any political significance in modern Italy? I’m also thinking of the Visconti Hanged Man as political rebel/Fool inverted.

Tarot quiz


I came out right between Fool and Magician…


You Scored as 0 – The Fool The Fool is the most complex and most contradictory of all the Tarot cards. “I am not a number, I am a free man”. The Fool represents naivety and childlike innocence – yet the Fool is wise. He carries only what possessions he really needs He journeys through life, tasting everything it has to offer then letting it go and moving on. The Fool is a risk taker, often shown with one foot over a cliff showing us every new beginning has a risk. Whether the Fool represents opportunity or danger one thing is clear: this world needs more fools.

Continue reading Tarot quiz

Necronomicon Tarot

The following is a review by our guest reader-  Sharnie.

The Necronomicon Tarot is a beautifully illustrated deck based on H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos. The artwork for this deck was created by Anne Stokes under the direction of Donald Tyson to fit in with his novels which are an expansion of and homage to Lovecraft’s mythos. As such, the artwork of this deck has very little in common with the more traditional decks.
Although this deck is accurate when the cards are read with the traditional meanings, they do (as with every deck) have their own unique way of speaking, and I have enjoyed learning their language.
This deck is published through Llewellyn, but don’t let that put you off. It does mean that the bag that comes with the deck is a bit flimsy, and the book is well printed, but not as informative as you might hope for if this is your first deck.
As this deck does tie into the Cthulhu Mythos, I recommend a good knowledge of both tarot and the mythos to really get the most from working with this deck.

more about this deck


Pamela Colman Smith Set

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Rider-Waite Deck, the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Set will be cherished by tarot collectors and art lovers.
The deluxe set includes the Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot Deck and two books;
The Artwork and Times of Pamela Colman Smith, by Stuart R. Kaplan, with over 100 examples of her non-tarot art, and The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite, in a new format.
The Smith-Waite Centennial Edition Tarot Deck is reproduced from the original 1909 deck and comes with a 78-card deck with drawstring organza bag.

The set also includes: 2 prints of Pamela Colman Smith, one photo and one self-portrait, both 5” X 7” suitable for framing; six color postcards of artwork by Pamela Colman Smith; and Spread Sheet Guide. Everything is attractively packaged in a deluxe keepsake case.

Aeclectic Tarot Button

New Orleans Voodoo deck

Glassman’s ‘New Orleans Voodoo’ deck

Voodoo Tarot

The New Orleans Voodoo Tarot, based on the stunning paintings by Sallie Ann Glassman, stirred some controversy when it appeared in 1992. Some questioned the wisdom of this heady blending of Kabbalah, Vodoun, and Santeria with modern occult philosophy. But they rarely doubted the power and beauty of Glassman’s visionary artwork. Over the years this deck has secured its reputation by proving its potency as a divinatory tool.

Aeclectic Tarot Button


Deviant Moon Tarot

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Frankly this tarot wipes the floor with any other so-called gothic or urban decks. Interestingly this is because it nods firmly in the direction of the Marseilles and surrealist traditions- both currently unfashionable in the English-speaking tarot scene.

The ingredients really shouldn’t work: bold computer graphics, collage, an eighties goth/industrial sensibility, humour, and a desire to depict tarot concepts in modern life. But it works. This deck was conceived by Patrick Valenza in his childhood. We eagerly await his next project.

Visit Patrick Valenza’s website