How to Read Tarot Cards: A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Their Meanings

Some tarot readers believe that your first deck should be gifted to you. While everyone loves presents, there is nothing more valuable than rewarding yourself with the magic of divination, so I say you should relish the opportunity to choose your first deck. With so many enchanting options available, the most important variable is your unique connection to the cards.

Where can I buy tarot cards?

Whether you are shopping online or in-person, observe your emotions as you browse different tarot decks. Does the one you’re considering make you feel excited? Wary? Confused? Trust your intuition: Your careful consideration will ultimately guide your interpretation of the cards. Explore the imagery: Are you enchanted by classical or modern representations? Note the symbols: Are they enticing? Remember, there is no hierarchy of tarot decks, so be sure to choose whichever deck truly tantalizes your soul. 

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck is a wonderful first deck because so many future decks are based on its iconic illustrations. Also, helpful tarot books, such as 78 Degrees of Wisdom use the deck as a reference. Start with the Rider-Waite deck, and then expand your collection with decks that resonate with you. It’s available online but, of course, feel free to check out your local occult store and see what speaks to you in person.  

Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

The Black Power Tarot Deck

One very fair critique of the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, and many like it, is how white all of the cards are. Especially considering how important people of color are in occult’s history, this is understandably annoying. For those looking for a more modern and inclusive deck, the Black Power Tarot contains icons such as James Brown and Etta James (on the Lovers card!). 

The Black Power Tarot

The Black Power Tarot deck

Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck

Occult history lovers will want the infamous Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, which has a reputation as being a deck that will tell it like it is. The art deco cards were painted by Lady Frieda Harris at Crowley’s instruction. They contain kabbalistic and astrological signs and meanings, making the Thoth deck a great choice if you’re also studying astrology. 

Thoth Tarot Deck

Thoth Tarot Deck by Aleister Crowley 

The Slutist Tarot Deck

Witches and sex-positivity have gone in hand for as long as people have been casting spells. As a result, to be a witch or a student of the occult, one should be sex-positive, anti-racist, and support sex workers. Don’t trust anyone who says otherwise. So, naturally, the occult community went nuts when The Slutist Tarot came out. Illustrated by Morgan Claire Sirene, the gorgeous artwork features iconic sex workers, plenty of diverse bodies, and even sex symbol celebrities such as Prince and David Bowie. 

The Slutist Tarot

sex worker-friendly diverse tarot deck

The Marseille Tarot Deck

For occult history buffs or anyone who enjoys gorgeous French art, try the Marseille Tarot Professional Edition. As it is one of the most influential and beautiful decks out there, the Marseille Tarot is especially useful as a gift, as it’s a great deck to graduate to after you learn the Rider-Waite. Don’t be surprised if you see a pro pull this one out at a professional reading. 

Marseille Tarot Professional Edition

Marseille Tarot Professional Edition

Don’t forget, cosmic warriors, tarot provides a rich vocabulary, but it is ultimately akin to a powerful coin toss: We can energetically charge any item or action through the strength of our own spirit. Though tarot requires time, practice, and patience, we intrinsically possess all the skills necessary to produce honest and accurate divinations. At the core of tarot is passion, logic, curiosity, and intuition — characteristics that define both the illuminated cards and their mystical readers.

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