Rebecca has read tarot for over 25 years and has taught tarot for six years. She collects tarot, lenormand, and kipper decks.
The Best Deck for Learning Tarot Is The Everyday Witch Tarot
When I teach my tarot courses, I work exclusively with the Everyday Witch Tarot.
Why this deck when there are so many other decks available? The original Rider-Waite deck is a classic, make no mistake, but in many cards it lacks the movement and emotional quality of the Everyday Witch deck.
My teaching method is specific and centers the reading of cards in two and three card combinations. Everyday Witch Tarot works well for this system because there is a character in 77 of the 78 cards in the deck.
While I recommend all beginners possess a Rider-Waite (or clone) deck, my preference for teaching is the Everyday Witch Tarot by Deborah Blake and Elisabeth Alba.
An Excellent Tarot Deck Tells a Story
The best tarot readers use the cards to piece together a story in which each card plays its part. Tarot is designed with storytelling in mind. Each card reflects one stage of a typical life's journey. Any excellent deck will provide the reader with visual clues to each card's part in the story.
When choosing a deck to learn with, the artwork on the card should illustrate the action it implies. In the beginning stages of learning, it is best to work with a deck which clearly illustrates each card's action. Action is the core of meaning.
While learning, choose a deck which makes it easy to piece together the steps in the story. For example, look at the Five of Pentacles + Eight of Wands + Ten of Swords from the Everyday Witch Tarot in the image below. What could these three cards mean? How do they tell a story?
In the Five of Pentacles, you see a witch and a child traipsing through the snow. The witch and child are frowning, and they struggle against the wind. Can you visualize this scene? They approach a warm house with glowing stained glass windows.
The Eight of Wands depicts a witch holding her familiar feline, seven wands in the air and one in her hand as she struggles to control them against the cyclone behind her. She appears stressed, but confident. This witch is taking action against the storm! You can see the story in this card, can't you?
One of the scariest cards in the deck, the Ten of Swords illustrates a witch on the ground, ten swords in her back while her attacker escapes the scene. A crow looks down on her symbolically, while her familiar hisses and arches its back at her attacker. She reaches out for her broom, still ready to keep on fighting despite her wounds.
Each of these cards tells a clear and distinct story. A wise tarot reader can piece these three together to tell a story. This is a great place for new tarot readers to start their journey with tarot, and it is one of the reasons I recommend this deck above others.
4 Important Qualities of a Great Deck for Learning to Read Tarot
- It follows one system, and only one system. There are three main systems of tarot: Rider-Waite, Thoth, and Marseille. Select a deck which follows just one of these systems. Everyday Witch Tarot follows the Rider-Waite system.
- It has clear, uncluttered artwork. Many decks have cluttered or complex images. When you're first learning tarot, you want to learn the meanings of the cards. You'll develop intuition as you learn. For now, choose a deck with simple artwork.
- Its images make you feel something. Your intuition will be clearer if your card evoke an emotional response when viewing their images. The more evocative the deck, the better.
- Others are reading with it. Many others. It's more difficult to learn to read a deck which doesn't have a following. With community surrounding your deck and its system, you'll find it easier to learn how to read cards with that system and deck.
Everyday Witch vs. Rider-Waite-Smith: What's the Difference?
77 of 78 cards have characters in their illustrations.
70 of 78 cards have characters in their illustrations.
Story on cards is clear and shows action.
Story on cards not always clear, doesn't always show action.
What Other Tarot Decks Are Great for Beginners?
Many experienced tarot readers will tell you to start with the original Rider tarot pack. Some people call this deck the Smith-Waite deck, the Waite-Smith deck, or the Rider Waite Smith deck.
This is a great choice! Everyone should study the great authors on tarot symbolism, including Arthur Edward Waite himself, as well as authors like Rachel Pollack.
While I maintain the Everyday Witch Tarot is the best tarot deck I've found for beginning readers eager to learn quickly, I believe every reader should study and explore the Rider Waite Smith deck and its symbolism with a good teacher and a stack of excellent books on the topic.
Finally, if you wish to learn to read with reversals, I recommend the Revelations Tarot by Zachary Wong. The illustrations on this beautiful deck are reversible and easy to read both upright and reversed. Revelations Tarot comes with an excellent guide book to help you learn!
The Everyday Witch Tarot will help you to learn to read for yourself and others in several distinct ways.
- You will recognize the characters in each card. Even in the Three of Swords, which doesn't include a character, it's easy to see the action the character took in the illustration. You will be able to easily relate to the characters in the illustrations on these cards.
- You will connect with the cards emotionally; great for journaling! The best way to memorize the meanings of the cards is to connect with them on an emotional level. Decks which evoke strong emotions and make you feel the story on the card make this easier, and better for tarot journaling!
- You will see how the story pieces together. No deck I've read or taught with is better at illustrating the way components of a story piece together. You'll be able to intuitively follow the story because the illustrations are clear and complete. This deck is wonderful for hidden meanings for intuitive readers!
- You'll be reading faster. Because of the previously mentioned qualities of this deck, you'll be reading faster than you would be with other tarot decks recommended for beginners. The faster you're able to start reading for yourself (and your friends), the faster you'll feel confident in reading for those outside your immediate social circle.
© 2020 Rebecca Rizzuti
Shane on July 28, 2020:
I'll have to go with the Rider-Waite.