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BTP68: How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

>>Download the Free PDF: How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

One question I get asked a lot is

“How do I know which Tarot deck to choose?”

This is often something that Tarot beginners will ask me at the start of their journey, so this podcast is completely focused on how you can choose your first Tarot deck.

Choosing a Tarot deck may seem like a simple task, but today there are so many choices out there. Every time you jump onto Kickstarter, there’s always a new Tarot deck coming out. And there are hundreds of decks on Amazon.

In this podcast episode, I’ll share a few tips to help make this decision a little bit easier for you.

Plus, I’ve pulled together a free PDF downloadable checklist to help you choose your first Tarot deck.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to choose a Tarot deck that’s right for you and your learning process
  • What to look for when shopping for that first Tarot deck

Additional Resources

Podcast Transcript

You’re listening to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and this is Episode 68: How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck.

Welcome to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, where you’ll learn how to connect more deeply with your intuition and live an empowered and enlightened life with the Tarot cards as your guide.

Listen as Brigit and her guests share their very best tips and strategies to help you read Tarot with confidence.

And now here’s your host, Brigit Esselmont.

How to Choose Your First Tarot Deck

Hello, and welcome back to the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and, as always, it’s my pleasure to be talking with you about Tarot.

One question I get asked a lot is

“How do I know which Tarot deck to choose?”

This is often something that Tarot beginners will ask me at the start of their journey, so today is all focused on how you can choose your first Tarot deck.

Now, before we get into it, I want to say a huge “thank you” to everybody who sent in a review and shared their feedback and comments on iTunes.

I wanted to share this really special comment that was recently left by a person by the name of Adzster from the U.S.:

“Simply amazing. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone who’s interested in learning more about Tarot. Whether you're a beginner or you’ve been reading for some time, there’s something in here for everyone. Brigit teaches you how to put down the books and how to tune into your intuition. If you're looking to build your confidence and want to become a better Tarot reader, then look no further. For so many of us in this practice, it’s easy to feel alone and overwhelmed. There’s so much to learn, and it’s hard to figure out even where to begin. Brigit offers such real and heartfelt advice that it’s like having your own personal mentor, and this podcast has helped me feel connected to my Tarot community and has played such a major role in my progress as a reader. Thank you, Brigit, for all that you do and for making this wonderful podcast. It has been instrumental to my progress and growth, both spiritually and with the Tarot. To say that this podcast is invaluable would be an understatement.”

Oh! Thank you so much. I really appreciate this comment. It’s awesome, and I’m really, really honoured that I can be part of your Tarot journey.

If you want to leave a comment or feedback, jump into iTunes, search for the Biddy Tarot Podcast, and leave your review. Just do that, and that would be great. Thank you!

And, of course, I’d love to read each and every review on the podcast as a way of saying “thank you” for doing so. So, who knows – if you leave a review, you might hear your comment on the podcast.

Let’s get into our topic for today, which is all about how to choose your first Tarot deck.

Now, if you are on the go and maybe you can’t jot down everything, or maybe you want to get a copy of the transcript, you’ll find our show notes at

Plus, I’ve included a checklist for choosing your first Tarot Deck. You can use this checklist to really check in and get the right deck for you. It’s taking into account everything that I’m going to share with you today and giving it in a nice and easy-to-use checklist. Go to, and you can download the free PDF checklist to help you choose your first Tarot deck.

Now, when I was first starting Tarot, getting my first Tarot deck was actually quite simple and straightforward.

I had been looking in various Tarot books and a little bit online. This is way back in the 1990’s, so the online world was not quite as big as it is now, but I started to get a pretty good idea that the learning deck for me would be the Rider-Waite Tarot. And lo and behold, I think it was on maybe my 19th birthday, my mum gave me my very first Tarot deck, which was the Rider-Waite.

I didn’t really go through a great deal of process for choosing my Tarot deck, but I also feel that way back then – we’re talking almost 20 years ago – there just wasn’t the same amount of choice that you have now. I mean, every time you jump onto Kickstarter, there’s always a new Tarot deck coming out. I actually think for the folks who are just starting Tarot now, it’s even more difficult to try to choose a deck is going to be the right one for you. And there are some absolute eye candy decks out there these days that are so beautiful, and you’ve really got to weigh whether it’s the right deck for you or if you go for a more traditional type of Tarot deck.

I want to just share with you a few tips in this podcast episode to help make this decision a little bit easier for you.

#1: Know that there is no one right Tarot deck.

I know it would be easy just to say to you, “Just go and get the Rider-Waite deck, and be done with it.” Half of me kind of feels that way. I really do recommend the Rider-Waite deck, but I also want to honour and acknowledge that we all have different styles. Different Tarot decks are going to resonate with us in different ways, and it’s really important to connect with that and find the deck that is right for you.

Just know that there is no perfect answer here, and ultimately, you do need to find that deck that feels good for you.

It is my personal preference to use the Rider-Waite deck for beginners, and I do have a certain bias towards that, and I’ll explain a little bit more why in a second. If someone wanted to really push me and say, “Which deck is it, Brigit? Which one is the beginner deck?” I would probably say the Rider-Waite, but again, I want you know that there really is no perfect, right deck. Don’t worry – you’re not going to get it wrong. If you choose a different deck, you're good, you're fine.

#2: Look for a good learning deck.

Again, there are thousands of Tarot decks out there, and some are absolutely beautiful. Maybe others are rich and complex in the symbolism, or maybe the concepts go really deep into the inner psyche or deep into a spiritual belief system. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those kinds of decks are the right decks for learning Tarot.

When you’re thinking about a good “learning deck,” there are a few things I want you to consider.

In a good learning deck, you want to see pictures that you understand. I’ve come across Tarot decks in the past that on first glance look beautiful, but then I start looking at them, and I’m like, “This is so abstract! I don’t get them. I’m not getting the picture. It doesn’t really make sense for me. You really want to choose a deck where you’re seeing these pictures that make sense initially. You don’t have to have all of the information about what that specific card is about straight away, but you do want to get a sense that when you look at the imagery, it makes sense to you.

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You also want to have imagery that tells a story, because tapping into the story of a Tarot card is one of the easiest ways to connect with the Tarot card more intuitively. For example, you can look at that card, and you can understand what’s happening quite quickly, just by looking at the card. And, of course, as I mentioned before, those abstract images can be pretty hard to understand. They might look pretty, but when you go to try to describe what it’s about, you realise it’s just not gelling.

Alternatively, you might have a completely different mind. I do have quite a structured, logical mind, so abstract art might not be as confronting for you as it is for me. In which case, if you're looking at abstract art and it makes sense to you, awesome. Keep doing it.

The other thing to think about with imagery is that there are some Tarot decks out there like the Tarot de Marseille that have non-illustrated cards. For example, with the Tarot de Marseille, you have the Minor Arcana cards, and they simply have 6 coins on them. There’s no picture. There’s no story. In order to master those cards, you do need to get into more of a memorisation technique.

I personally like to teach to read the story in the cards, so I do recommend finding Tarot cards that do have that story there versus having those non-illustrated decks. Again, those decks are great when you're a little bit more up to speed with how Tarot works and you’ve already got a base-level understanding, but as a learning deck, I’d strongly recommend getting a deck with lots of imagery. Think about being able to understand the concepts within a card.

Those concepts would either be familiar to you or easy to understand. What do I mean by this? Well, for example, there’s the Animal Totem Tarot deck, and in this deck, you’re going to find not just your average, ordinary Tarot deck, but you find animals associated with each of the cards. Now, if you already have a great understanding of animals and their significance, then it’s going to be a lot easier to connect with the concepts of that card. Of course, just someone who doesn’t really understand about animals, then it’s maybe not the best deck for learning.

Another thing to think about is, say, the Thoth deck, for example… The concepts in that deck are very complex, and again, it may not be the best deck for you to learn with, unless you have a really deep understanding already of Occultism, and when you look at those cards, it just kind of leaps off the cards for you.

Consider how many learning resources are available to you. If you get a beautiful custom-crafted deck off Kickstarter, then you’re really only able to rely on the little white guide book that comes with that custom-created Tarot deck.

On the other hand, if you choose something like the Rider-Waite deck, nearly every single book on Tarot and most websites on Tarot are based around the Rider-Waite deck, so you have an immense amount of learning resources available, if you choose the Rider-Waite deck. That’s something to keep in mind.

Now, of course, you can choose a deck that is not from the Rider-Waite, but you could still use the Rider-Waite learning resources, and that’s going to lead into my next point.

#3: Consider a Rider-Waite deck or a variation of it.

Then you can connect with the different learning resources that are available, and you can also choose one of these variations that is more in resonance with you perhaps than, say, the original Rider-Waite deck.

Let’s talk about this for a little bit. With the Rider-Waite deck, you can obviously get the original Rider-Waite, and there are some re-colours of the Rider-Waite deck. There are also redrawn Rider-Waite decks, and there are decks that have the Rider-Waite themes involved in them as well.

When it comes to original Rider-Waite decks and the re-colours, some examples might be the Radiant Rider-Waite deck, which is my personal favourite, because the colours are really bright, and it just has a more modern feel to it. You can also check out the Aquatic Tarot, which is more of a watercolour style for the Rider-Waite deck, or even the Illuminated Tarot, where you get more of an illumination effect with the Rider-Waite cards.

When it comes to redrawn Rider-Waite decks, then there’s the Hanson-Roberts deck or the Morgan Greer deck. Again, it’s very similar. It’s the pictures of the original Rider-Waite deck, but they’re redrawn in a different way. They might have maybe a slightly more modern feel to them. I know that some of these decks are little bit more from the 1960’s and the ‘70’s, so you sort of get that groovy feel to them.

Ultimately, what the creators of those decks are trying to do is just take something that’s been created hundreds of years ago and bring it into modern times, so it’s easier to relate to. That’s why redrawn Rider-Waite decks can be good, because you get a bit of the best of both worlds.

Now, finally, you can have those Tarot decks that are based on the Rider-Waite but look very different. An example of that is the Fountain Tarot. Now, the Fountain Tarot has this beautiful, dreamy feel to it in watercolours, and even a little bit of the dark shadow side as well. But what it’s doing is it’s connecting with the key themes of the Rider-Waite deck, but it’s expressing it in a completely new way visually.

It’s the same with the Chrysalis Tarot as well. In fact, the Chrysalis Tarot, I think, takes that next steps, because it’s got different names for the suits and a very different feel to it, but ultimately, there’s an underlying theme with those cards that relates back to the Rider-Waite deck.

To recap on that part, you might consider a Rider-Waite original deck, or you might consider something that’s a little bit of a variation of that. Either it’s been redrawn, or it’s based on the themes of the Rider-Waite deck. That way, you can tap into the huge learning resources that are available for the Rider-Waite deck, but you can also find a deck that’s more in resonance with what you are looking for.

#4 Find a deck you resonate with.

The trouble is if I said to you, “Go and get the Rider-Waite deck,” and then you pick it up, and you go, “Oh, so ugly!” Or maybe you think, “What are these court cards? I’ve never seen them. What’s a Page? What’s a Knight? I can’t relate with it.” It is really important that you do choose a deck that you resonate with and that you can relate to.

This happens on a number of different levels. Visually, you really want to be able to pick up that deck and go, “It looks great! It looks beautiful!” You also want to feel an energetic connection to it so that when you are looking at the imagery of the cards, you feel your energy aligning with that. I know that I’ve picked up decks previously, and I’ve just gone “Ugh, no!” and I’ve put it straight down. Clearly, I’m not meant to work with those decks at this point in time, but other decks I pick up, I’m like, “Oh my gosh!” and I just want to keep looking at them over and over. Those are the kinds of decks that I might personally consider when choosing my Tarot deck.

Another example is when my mum gave me my first Tarot deck, it was the original Rider-Waite, and at the time, I was just like, “OK, well, that’s the deck I have,” but I started realizing, “I’m not really into the colours.” The colours weren’t quite right, and that’s what then attracted me to the Radiant Rider-Waite deck, because it was much brighter and more of my style.

In order for you to find a deck that you resonate with, it’s really important that you get to see more than just the top card or the box. You can do that either by going into your local New Age store or bookstore, where hopefully you can actually handle the cards and look through them and just find how you're responding to those cards. Or it’s probably easier to just jump online and search in Google Images for the deck that you're considering, and then you can look at the imagery online. Another great place is Eclectic Tarot, where they have a whole bunch of different reviews of different decks.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that would probably send me into overwhelm, and I wouldn’t be able to choose; however, it can be good if you’ve got a few decks in mind, and you want to read more about those Tarot decks.

#5: Use the Tarot deck before you fully commit.

What do I mean? The thing is, when you pick up a deck initially, you can think, “Wow! This looks beautiful. I’m going to love working with this deck,” and then you go and you start doing some readings with it, and then you think, “Oh, this is not it! It’s just not gelling!” Or maybe you start trying to learn the deck, but the deeper you go with the deck, you realise, “This isn’t quite the one just yet.”

You don’t have to go and sell it on eBay straight away or give it to a friend. You can still keep that deck, but just save it for later, because there’s something that’s drawn you to that deck, but if it’s not right for you as your first Tarot deck, put it down, choose something else. I think it’s really important to go through that process of actually using the deck first and then deciding, “Is this the one?” because it does change over time. You can find that you're a little bit out of resonance as you go a bit deeper with that deck.

There you have it. Those are my pointers or tips for how you can choose your first Tarot deck. I want to go through those, just to recap.

#1: (and most importantly) Know that there is no one right Tarot deck. You’ve got to choose one that’s right for you and that feels good for your learning process.

#2: Look for a good learning deck. If this is your first Tarot deck, you want to make sure it’s a deck that you can learn with and that’s going to make your learning process easy and enjoyable as well. Think about things like the pictures, the imagery in the card, that you can understand it quite quickly, as well as once you start to go deeper with learning about the Tarot, then you can go much, much further with your studies.

#3: I would consider getting a Rider-Waite deck or a variation of a Rider-Waite deck. Again, I don’t want you to be stuck to that, but I do think it’s a good place to start as a Tarot beginner.

#4: Choose a deck that you do resonate with visually, energetically, and make sure that you have that opportunity to go through the cards and check in how you're resonating with the deck.

#5: Play with a deck before you fully commit to that deck. Know that sometimes it looks great on the outside, and then you start reading with it and you realise it’s not quite the right one. You can save it for later.

Here’s the thing: I recommend you actually go through that in order. The important thing is to find a learning deck, and then find a learning deck that you can resonate with, and then learning deck that you resonate with that you enjoy reading with. Do you see what I mean? If you put all of those things into play, then you’ll find that you connect on a really beautiful level with your first Tarot deck, and learning Tarot becomes easy and enjoyable and delightful.

Remember that you can head to and download your free checklist for choosing your first Tarot deck. Again, I’ve created this checklist to make it really easy for you to know if a particular deck is the deck for your first Tarot deck.

There you have it. I hope that today has been really helpful for you and it’s inspired you to perhaps go ahead and choose your very first Tarot deck, or maybe it’s got you thinking, “The deck I’m working with right now is not quite gelling with me, and it’s time to choose another deck in order to take my learning to that next level.” I hope that has been helpful. It’s been my absolute joy, as always, to be talking with you about Tarot.

I look forward to our next episode, which will actually be one from our archives – a little bit more about that next time. Until then, have an awesome week, and we will chat soon. Bye for now!


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