tarot decks

Choosing your first Tarot deck

Last Updated: July 27, 2022

When we scroll through Instagram or TikTok these days, it’s filled with Tarot readers and beautiful decks. It’s hard not to get caught up in the beauty of it all. We see so many of these decks with all different types of imagery. Anything from our favorite movies and shows, to plants and herbs. The options are almost endless. But then you’re left with the difficult decision of how to choose the right one for you.

When I was first learning about how to read the Tarot, I stuck with a simple Raider-Waite deck. This allowed me to fully dive into the imagery and the colors that all have their own meanings. Like if a card has flowers in it, I will take that as something happening in the springtime. A great book that talks about the imagery and major arcana is Magickal Tarot by Robyn Valentine. Robyn is a professional tarot reader and has a wide range of knowledge of Tarot.

After you have learned the foundation of the cards and what they mean, it’s time for you to find the meaning of the cards. And what better way to do that than with a special deck of your choosing. Now there are a few different types of tarot decks. Below is a basic overview of the most common type of decks:

  • Raider-Smith-Waite: A deck consisting of 78 cards – 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana that contain 4 suits
  • Lenormand: A set of 36 cards – no suits
  • Oracle: A deck that is read intuitively
tarot cards on a table

While the Traditional tarot deck has a psychological and spiritual approach, whereas the Lenormand has a practical approach. If you are looking to have a deck that you can intuitively read, the best fit for you would be a tarot deck. If you are looking for a deck that is straightforward with a set of cards creating a chain of info, then a Lenormand deck would be best. 

With our Oracle cards, they are more of a free flow with your intuition. You can take 3 different oracle decks and get completely different information from each one. While with Tarot, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, you will have the same outcome if you pull the same 3 cards in each deck. The imagery may be different, but the meanings will remain the same. 

Another thing to consider when choosing the best deck for yourself is whether you want a pip deck or not. Pip decks are still the same 78 cards with suits. The only difference is that instead of a beautiful full scene that tells the cards’ story, it will show simple images. There are pip decks that will only have symbols and maybe some small elements like an animal or a herb. I’ve seen plenty of both with pip decks. They are harder to read as a beginner. 

I personally started with a traditional deck when stepping out of the box with the Raider- Waite deck. I wanted to continue to build on the foundation I had begun to build with learning. But there is no rule that says you have to. When going the nontraditional way, it makes you dive down into your memories to remember what they mean. 

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your first deck is the energy and images of the deck. While you can never see the full deck (because images can be stolen and made into knockoffs) you can still see a few of the cards. Do the pictures feel right? Do you like how they look? If the answer is no or maybe, I would continue your search. It’s always best to know without a doubt that you are drawn to the deck. Otherwise, you may not use it or enjoy using it. Let your intuition drive you to find your perfect deck. 

Some decks that I highly enjoy and use frequently are Claire Goodchild’s The Antique Anatomy and The Runic Tarot by Jack Sephiroth, Allen Dempster and Jaymi Elford. But this is through many years of trial and error with a multitude of decks. So, if you don’t feel that connection with your first deck, don’t stress. As you grow in your tarot journey, you will find the decks that call to you. And they may change over time. Mine change constantly

selling old tarot decks online

What to do after you've bought your first deck?

Once I get my new deck, I always love to do a tarot deck cleanse and bond with them. I usually do a smoke cleanse and a sound cleanse. But you can cleanse however you feel called. There is no right or wrong way. Just don’t put them in water as that may ruin the cards themselves. How I bond with my cards is a lot more work than other practitioners.

And guess what? That’s ok! It’s your practice to do what you want with. Respect the cards and they will steer you to clarity. Below are my personal steps to bonding with them, feel free to try them out or not. It’s up to you.

My new deck bonding process

  1. Cleanse: I like to ring a bell over the deck when I first open the box. It cleanses the energy that the cards are about to come into once taken out. Then I do a smoke cleanse. I love to use a mixture I made myself. 
  2. The Energy Transfer: this part gets all my energy pumping to emerge with my cards. I start with rubbing my hands together to create friction. Once my hands are nice and hot, I then hold my cards. Sometimes I even shuffle them a bit to get that energy really in there. 
  3. Intention: Once I have my energy coursing through, I then choose my intention for the deck and blow it into the deck. Cupping my hand around the deck afterwards helps seal the intention in.
  4. After this is all done, I then do an interview spread.

Start your tarot journey

After choosing your first deck, you can then familiarize yourself with the meanings of the different tarot cards and try to do some simple tarot spreads for yourself. There are many resources available to help you learn the ins and outs of the tarot: you can read websites, listen to podcasts, watch videos on YouTube, and even download tarot apps to your phone!

I hope you find your perfect deck to expand your knowledge of Tarot and your practice itself. 


Written by Dee Feilan

Dee Feilan resides in the town of Frederick in Maryland. Surrounded by the Appalachian Mountains and many historic areas, she is someone who loves to explore and learn about the areas and the folklore. She is usually found running around with her daughter when she is not working. Dee is a witch whose practice resides using bones, tarot and many more forms of divination. Dee can be found on Instagram at theboneswitch

Continue your tarot journey ✨

This page is part of our collection of articles on learning about tarot. If you enjoyed reading this, then you will enjoy the following articles.

tarot card spread on wood

Are you curious about Tarot cards but not sure where to start? Or maybe there is an Oracle deck that caught your eye, but you aren’t quite sure how to use it.

tarot cards stored in a divination pouch

Let’s take a look at different ways to store tarot decks and ensure your cards remain safe and protected in between tarot readings.

what are tarot cards

By tuning in with our own intuition, tarot cards help you find the answers to the questions you have about your life.

a witch holding tarot cards

Tarot is one of the most popular Divination tools, with hundreds of designs and adaptations to suit anyone’s needs.