The Best Tarot Decks

by Shawna

February 13, 2021

Top 5 Tarot Decks and Reviews

I’ve picked and reviewed 5 of my favourite Tarot decks. I love them all for various reasons, some more than others. While some may be ‘nice to have’, some are definitely ‘must have’ in your collection especially if you’re learning Tarot or just love them as much as I do!

Can you ever have enough Tarot decks?

1. Rider-Waite Tarot

Rider-Waite Tarot Deck

Also known as Rider Tarot, Waite Tarot, Waite-Smith Tarot

The Rider-Waite Tarot is a classic Tarot deck, perhaps the most well-known in the Western world. It is often called the first modern Tarot deck, as the cards drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith and commissioned by Waite were the first to use detailed pictures on the minor arcana cards.

Created by A. E. Waite, Pamela Colman-Smith

Tarot Deck – 78 Cards – US Games 1971

More About These Cards

Name: Rider-Waite Tarot

Alternate Names: Rider Tarot, Waite Tarot, Waite-Smith Tarot

Creators: A. E. Waite, Pamela Colman-Smith

Publisher: US Games 1971

Deck Type: Tarot Deck

Cards: 78

Major Arcana: 22

Minor Arcana: 56

Deck Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS)

Minor Arcana Style: RWS-Based Scenes

Suits: Cups, Swords, Wands, Pentacles

Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King

Major Titles: Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World

The Fool is 0

Strength is 8

Justice is 11

Card Size: 2.75 x 4.63 in. = 6.99cm x 11.75cm (Regular playing card size)

Card Language: English

Card Back: Reversible

Back Design: Thin blue and black tartan stripes on white.

This is the biggest shake up in tarot history, thanks to a gentleman called Arthur Edward Waite, who took the tarot deck and got rid of a lot of the Egyptian mythology and replaced it with Christian overtones. It was first published in 1909. He replaced the Pope with the Hierophant, The Papess with the High Priestess and introduced a lot of other mystical elements to the tarot.

This is the most widely circulated tarot deck in the world, so much the case that its vast sales have more or less formed the foundation stone of its modern day publisher, U.S. Games Inc.

It’s difficult to look at many of these scenes and conceive of a better way to encapsulate the meaning of the card itself. On another level, the drawings are timeless. It’s very easy to forget that they are nearly a hundred years old. There may be modern tarot decks with more spectacular illustrations but these enigmatic, flatly coloured line drawings feel as contemporary in the present as they did in the sixties or indeed in the 1900s– when they were created.

The cards themselves were originally published by Rider and Sons, London, hence the deck’s name. This publication came to an end during the Second World War when the printing plates were destroyed in the London Blitz. US Games began publishing the deck in 1971. They now have the copyrights and patents on all the various permutations of the deck’s name. Rider and Sons are once again publishing their own edition by arrangement with U.S. Games. 

I am a firm believer that every collection should at the very least contain a copy of this deck and an edition of the Tarot de Marseille. Both have shaped the Tarot tradition in their own time. The Rider remains the best deck to learn with the majority of novice books using the Rider for illustrative purposes. Many will find that as they advance their appreciation of the deck will only increase with knowledge and experience. Amongst other modern decks I can only think of this deck in the only contender for the beginner. Even this owes the majority of its symbolism to the Rider deck.

If you are like me, you will find that this deck will be a permanent cornerstone of your reading activities. None of my other favourites would it exist if it were not for Pamela Coleman Smith. Even if you cannot muster my level of enthusiasm, add a copy to your collection anyway, remembering that if it weren’t for this deck, we wouldn’t have the modern day Tarot phenomenon. This deck started it all!

To order:

https://amzn.to/3afVite

2. Crow Tarot

Crow Tarot Deck

The Crow Tarot is for those drawn to the energy and imagery of these intelligent birds – crows and ravens. The 78 cards are illustrated in a skilled, dynamic style of digital collage. The set comes with a guidebook also written by the artist.

Created by MJ Cullinane
Tarot Deck – 78 Cards – US Games 2019

More About These Cards

Name: Crow Tarot

Creators: MJ Cullinane

Publisher: US Games 2019

Deck Type: Tarot Deck

Cards: 78

Major Arcana: 22

Minor Arcana: 56

Card Size: 80 x 127 mm, which is a fairly standard size for tarot cards. A little larger than regular size playing cards.

Card Language: English

Card Back: Reversible

Back Design: Simple dark brown crosshatched design

Companion Material: 86-page guidebook written by the artist.

The Major Arcana uses A. E. Waite’s titles and ordering. The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits – Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each suit has 10 number cards, and 4 Court cards; the court cards being named Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

Crow Tarot Review

The Crow and the Raven are mysterious and powerful beings whose tales are woven into myths and legends around the world. Corvids are sacred to Apollo, Athena, Lugh, The Morrighan, Odin (Hugin and Munin), found in Native American (especially the Pacific NorthWest) and Australian Aboriginal mythologies, as well as Siberian, Slavic, Hindu folktales and lore. These super intelligent birds are the heralds and messengers of gods, and the tricksters and shape shifters who change our world.

The Crow Tarot is designed to pay homage to crows and ravens. Throughout the deck crows and ravens remain elusive – clever, strange heralds that linger on the edges between the worlds of the seen and unseen. The deck utilizes enough symbolism from the Waite-Smith Tarot to make it learner-friendly, and fairly immediately usable and familiar to experienced tarot readers.

The 86-page guidebook is written by the artist MJ Cullinane with instructions in English only. This small, immediate and practical guidebook offers no reproductions of the card illustrations, instead opting to cut straight to the chase.

The short ‘Introduction’ explains the artist-author’s fascination with crows and how this in turn inspired the artwork of this deck. From here, we move straight into the Major Arcana chapter – each card is given a series of keywords which define the essence of the card, as well as an elemental alignment. The image is described and explained giving the Seeker greater insight into the Crow’s message. This is followed by divinatory meanings for both upright and reversed cards. These are commonly accepted interpretations, closely aligned with RWS standards, and with no radical departures from the familiar.

Minor Arcana cards are given no keywords or elemental correspondences, instead moving straight into the description/narrative of the image and accompanied by both upright and reversed interpretations. At the close of the book is an eight-card Crow Spread which is somewhat similar in spirit to the Celtic cross.

If you are drawn to crows and ravens, then this is clearly the tarot deck for you. If you feel an affinity for mythology is closely associated with our corvid friends, particularly Celtic, Norse, and Native American, then this is a deck that might be of interest to you. If you are drawn by these dark messengers from the gods, if the crows choose you then the Crow Tarot may be an excellent medium for their messages.

If you are looking for a tarot which pays homage to the Waite-Smith classic without being yet another clone deck then the Crow Tarot should definitely be on your list. Both charming and mysterious, the Crow Tarot is definitely a winner. It’s one of my favourite decks!

To order:

https://amzn.to/3d7XAN2

3. Visconti Tarots

Visconti-Sforza

Also known as Visconti-Sforza Restored

A restoration of one of the oldest tarots is the Visconti-Sforza card deck. The symbolism is the same in this version, but the Visconti Tarot cards have clearer colours and there are metallic gold leaf highlights and backgrounds. (The gold doesn’t show up well in scans, unfortunately.)

Created by A. Atanassov, Giordano Berti
Tarot Deck – 78 Cards – Lo Scarabeo 2002

More About These Cards

Name: Visconti Tarot

Alternate Names: Visconti-Sforza Restored

Creators: A. Atanassov, Giordano Berti

Publisher: Lo Scarabeo 2002

Deck Type: Tarot Deck

Cards: 78

Major Arcana: 22

Minor Arcana: 56

Deck Tradition: Italian

Minor Arcana Style: Decorated Pips

Suits: Chalices, Swords, Wands, Pentacles

Court Cards: Knave, Knight, Queen, King

Major Titles: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lover, The Chariot, Justice, The Hermit, The Wheel, Strength, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World

The Fool is 0

Strength is 11

Justice is 8

Card Size: 2.36 x 4.53 in. = 6.00cm x 11.50cm (Regular playing card size)

Card Language: Spanish, Italian, German, French, English

Card Back: Reversible

Back Design: Monochrome taupe-gray motif of acanthus leaves and vines within a narrow black border.

Companion Material: Little White Book (LWB) and additional cards on which divination instructions are printed in multiple languages.

It’s a very elegant deck and is entrenched with history, and for those reasons, I do recommend this deck and LWB to historical fans. This is definitely not a beginner deck by any means, but it is definitely the most gorgeous deck I’ve ever seen. My mentor uses this deck everyday. Colleagues I know have expressed a wish to use elegant and lovely reproductions of older decks such as the Visconti Gold for self-reflection and ideas as well. I’ve been drawn to it from day one but with saying that, it’s a deck that I keep for historical purposes and not an everyday reading. If you love Tarot, this is one I would recommend to have in your collection.

To order:

https://amzn.to/3ai1nWk

4. The Good Tarot

The Good Tarot Deck

The Good Tarot has 78 cards with luminous, delicate, fairy tale artwork. The deck focuses on the present and positive outcomes, rather than divination or fortune telling, and each card has an affirmation rather than a meaning. It’s an intuitive oracle in tarot format, aimed at expressing the highest good of all.

Created by Colette Baron-Reid, Jena DellaGrottaglia

Tarot Deck – 78 Cards – Lifestyles 2017

More About These Cards

Name: The Good Tarot

Creators: Colette Baron-Reid, Jena DellaGrottaglia

Publisher: Lifestyles 2017

Deck Type: Tarot Deck

Cards: 78

Major Arcana: 22

Minor Arcana: 56

Suits: Earth, Air, Fire, Water

Court Cards: Page, Messenger, Queen, King

Card Size: 3.54 x 5.04 in. = 9.00cm x 12.80cm (Very large, downfall – hard to shuffle)

Card Language: English

Card Back: Reversible

Back Design: Antiqued-looking green background

Companion Material: 120-page guidebook by Colette Baron-Reid accompanies the deck.

The Good Tarot Review

The Good Tarot is the new tarot from the team of Colette Barron-Reid and Jena DellaGrottaglia who have collaborated on The Enchanted Map Oracle Cards, Wisdom of the Hidden Realms Oracle Cards, and Wisdom of the Oracle Divination Cards. The Good Tarot, called as such for its focus on the good of all, and positive outcomes is not a predictive deck as such, but instead has a foundation of observation of emotional and mental states, and is representative of our collective human experiences. The Good Tarot deals with the present rather than future events, and aims to offer immediate solutions through affirmations, and laws of manifestation and attraction.

The Good Tarot has a strong foundation in traditional tarot, and although the advice given to the Seeker is progressive in nature, it still references traditional divinatory meanings. Rather than deny negativity, the cards acknowledge that a negative experience has taken place, and looks for a positive solution. For example, the 3 of Air (3 of Swords) traditionally a ‘negative’ card gives the following advice: Silver linings, natural departures… “A third party helps me to see the truth of this situation… It’s in my best interest to let go and allow for something better to take its place.”

This is a 78 card, fully illustrated tarot. It has 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana is divided into 4 suits based on the elements; Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Each suit has 10 number cards, and 4 Court cards – Page, Messenger, Queen, and King.

The Major Arcana follows A E Waite’s ordering, although several cards have been renamed: The Lovers have been retitled Love, Wheel of Fortune is now Fortune’s Wheel, Death now called Transformation, Temperance is now Patience, The Devil – Temptation, and Judgement is now Call.

The 119-page guidebook is written by the deck’s conceptual designer Colette Baron-Reid. She opens the guidebook with a note to the Seeker which details the genesis of the deck, and its purpose. She also outlines her 40 year career working with tarot. The second chapter gives in-depth instruction on using the cards, focusing on how to make the most of the affirmations which take the place of divinatory meanings. The third chapter outlines the structure of the deck (which is traditional), and gives astrological and numerological correspondences for the Minor Arcana.

There are no descriptions of the images, nor is there any analysis of symbols contained within them or their meanings. Instead each card is given several keywords and a short affirmation. The affirmation is intended to be spoken aloud by the Seeker, and to that end it is written in first person and is situated in the immediate present. There are no reversed meanings given for these cards, even the most difficult of them is intended to be faced head-on and dealt with from a position of strength and love.

This deck positively glows with luminous art and good intention. It is both attractive to the eye, and to the soul. Yet it is not feeble and spineless, nor does it seek to avoid unpleasantness – to the contrary, it aims to heal that which undermines us, weakens us, breaks us. For those of you looking for a tarot which focuses on personal issues and positive outcomes, and addresses emotional and spiritual needs The Good Tarot is the deck you are looking for. If you are looking for a tarot with modern imagery which maintains its connection with otherworldly mystery and beauty well as alternative spirituality then look no further than this deck.

While not a great beginners deck owing to its lack of traditional imagery and symbolism, those with some familiarity with the tarot will find The Good Tarot easy to work with. The Good Tarot is a feast for the eyes and the spirit. The only downfall is that the deck is hard to shuffle and the cards are on the larger size.

To order:

https://amzn.to/3daJqLd

5. Everyday Witch Tarot

Everyday Witch Tarot

The Everyday Witch Tarot has 78 whimsical tarot scenes of black-hatted witches going about their lives, set in a world of medieval fantasy mixed with modern reality. It’s a charming deck of positive energies, serious intent, and light heart.

Created by Elisabeth Alba, Deborah Blake

Tarot Deck – 78 Cards – Llewellyn 2017

More About These Cards

Name: Everyday Witch Tarot

Creators: Elisabeth Alba, Deborah Blake

Publisher: Llewellyn 2017

Deck Type: Tarot Deck

Cards: 78

Major Arcana: 22

Minor Arcana: 56

Deck Tradition: Rider-Waite-Smith

Suits: Swords, Pentacles, Cups, Wands

Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, King

Card Size: 2.76 x 4.65 in. = 7.00cm x 11.80cm (Regular playing card size)

Card Language: English

Card Back: Non-reversible

Back Design: Broom, witch’s hat, and black cat floating on a background of yellow stars and night sky

Companion Material: 264-page companion book.

Everyday Witch Tarot Review

While there are many tarot decks focused on witches very few are as well envisioned, charming, and satisfyingly complete as the Everyday Witch Tarot.

This deck steps away from depicting witches as serious, humourless, and weighed down with new-age cliches – clad in monastic robes, a crystal clasped in one hand and communing solemnly with the spirits of nature. Instead we are presented with witches tackling everyday life issues with exuberance, grit, and determination. A broad spectrum of situations and corresponding emotions are tackled with a delicate touch which neither mocks the seriousness of the situation nor suffocates them under a blanket of Pagan jargon.

The deck is created by author Deborah Blake and artist Elisabeth Alba. This is a classic 78 card deck, with 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana cards. The titles of Major Arcana cards are familiar and unchanged, and the suits of the Minor Arcana are Swords, Pentacles, Cups, and Wands. The Minor Arcana suits each have 10 number cards and 4 Court cards – Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The titles of all cards are given in full on a banner at the bottom of the illustrations. This deck measures 70 x 118 mm, which makes it a fairly standard sized tarot which will sit comfortably in most user’s hands.

The Everyday Witch Tarot has a broad palette of both strong and delicate colours. The colour schemes tend towards poetic realism with gorgeous skies that veer between peachy sunsets, aqueous evenings, and moody days, rich green fields and deep dark woods, with the witches clad in inevitable black, vivid scarlet, midnight blues and Lincoln green.

The images are whimsical, with strong bright colours and lines. Each card is detailed and well balanced; and executed with deftness and assurance. The images have been crafted specifically for this deck with imagination, sympathy, and humour – the witches themselves sport their conical hats and striped socks (or stockings, leggings) as they go about witchy deeds as part of their daily lives. There are both male and female witches, as well as some quite androgynous characters, spread across a broad age range.

This is a beautiful deck full of positive energies, serious intent, and a light heart. The images are whimsical yet retain their spiritual power. While it is probably not the most ideal deck for an absolute beginner, the Seeker who has their fundamentals down will find this an exceptionally easy deck to work with. Experienced tarot readers will find this deck easy to master and a pleasure to use. Modern witches will love this deck, and Pagans seeking a tarot full of laughter and wisdom are well advised to check out the Everyday Witch Tarot. This is a strong and satisfying deck to work with, yet like the bubbles in champagne it adds a little fizz and joy to life.

To order:

https://amzn.to/3qiNHQv

Which Tarot deck is your favourite?

Shawna Maleski

A psychic medium, tarot lover, and forever in love with kindness, compassion and spirituality. Providing healing, empowerment, guidance and messages from the spirit world. 

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