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Tell me about your favorite tarot deck

All the cool cartomancers are down with...

  • Waite-Smith

    Votes: 11 45.8%
  • Thoth

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Marseilles

    Votes: 2 8.3%
  • Special snowflake

    Votes: 11 45.8%

  • Total voters
    24

Ikselam

may one day be worthy of your grace
Validated User
I can't be the only one here with an interest in the cards.

While I approach them primarily as art objects, I also appreciate how they fit together as a symbolic system. There have been a few times when I've used them to help sort out my feelings about chaotic or overwhelming situations. When I do set out to interpret them, my goal is basically just to tell a story about the cards I've dealt. A good deck to me is one with imagery that's thematically coherent and resonates with me on some level, but also feels like it's giving me some sort of insight into how the person who illustrated it sees the world.

I'd like to hear about your favorite decks, and what makes them appeal to you. Here are a few of mine, and some cards from each that I especially like:

Sun and Moon Tarot (Vanessa Decort)
Spoiler: Show

This is the first tarot deck that I really took to, and it's still my favorite. The imagery is primarily Waite-Smith, though it has some noticeable Thoth influences; it uses the Thoth numbering system and some of its names for the Major Arcana, and also calls the first and second court cards in the suits Princess/Prince instead of Page/Knight (but keeps King as the high card). Someone I used to work with said that it had strong female energy, an assessment I don't disagree with.

The one letdown about this deck is that it's kind of cheaply made. It comes in a flimsy slipcase like any old pack of playing cards; the little white book is little, white, and made of low-quality paper with staples for binding; and the cards are printed on what feels like the same lightweight, laminated stock used for cheap poker decks. I actually don't mind that last one; it's durable enough, and the lighter, more flexible material makes the cards easy to handle. And, well, you know what they say about packages.



The Major Arcana are pretty straightforward, with most of the usual symbolism. The characters depicted on the cards have a significant degree of ethnic diversity. They also don't have faces. The way the scenes are drawn from a pulled-back perspective makes them look kind of like miniature dollhouse tableaus, which is one of the primary reasons I like the deck. While the human figures are still focal points, the perspective encourages the viewer to not focus on them to the exclusion of the bigger picture. Their doll-like appearance reminds you that what you're looking at aren't scenes from a story, but collections of symbols that were purposefully arranged to suggest certain ideas.



This deck is very explicit about the elemental associations of the Minor Arcana, but it also associates each suit with a time of day, which I find pretty unique and interesting. Each card also has a keyword across the top, which I have more mixed feelings about.

I tend to be interested in the Minor Arcana as much or more than the Majors; the number cards often feel less impersonal than the trumps, and each suit has such a different personality that it's interesting to see which one the artist seems most engaged with and attuned to. Vanessa Decort seems to really get Pentacles; this deck helped me get a better handle on that suit, which has never been one I felt much connection with.


The Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans)
Spoiler: Show

I just picked this one up recently. It's drawn in a black-and-white style, with sparing but effective use of color, which gives it an unsettling, almost hostile feel. The dominant mood is very "lost in the spooky dark forest."

It also comes in a very nice package, with a full-size guidebook and sturdy, classy-looking boxes for both the deck and the set. The cardstock is on the heavy side, to the point where I find it difficult to shuffle.



This is another Waite-Smith/Thoth hybrid deck, with Waite's names and Crowley's numbering for the Major Arcana. I feel like many of the cards take more after Thoth symbolism (with which I am less conversant) as well; that might just be because many of the images, especially in the Minor Arcana, trend toward the abstract.

Most of the cards are also pretty minimalist, presenting a single powerful image rather than a busier collection of interrelated symbols, which adds to the deck's intense vibe.



The court cards are named Daughter/Son/Mother/Father; wands are snakes, cups are swans, swords are owls, and pentacles are deer. The animal themes don't extend into the suits as a whole. I'd pick Wands as this deck's strongest suit.


Cat Tarot (Megan Lynn Kott)
Spoiler: Show

This is a silly theme deck, and I'll admit it drew my attention because I like cats, but the reason I ended up buying it is that it's also a serious attempt to look at the usual symbolism from a quirky and playful perspective. It comes in a sturdy paperboard box, which itself has a cute touch: the bottom half of the box is printed with a crouching cat on either end. When the top is in place, the cat peeks out of the cutout notches that you'd use to lift it off, as if ready to leap out and pounce.



The Devil isn't the most inspired card in the deck, design-wise, but its LWB entry is hilarious. "The dog could free itself if it tried. But it is a dog, and therefore incapable."

(In a similar vein, Death is the vacuum cleaner.)



Not all of the images in this deck work that well, but when it's on, it is really on. The Eight of Cups and Ten of Swords are totally perfect, and there are several other standouts. (One thing that helped sell me on it was when I looked up reviews online, and saw that the Page of Cups was drinking out of a toilet bowl.
 
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Kate_C

Registered User
Validated User
Robin Scott's Urban Tarot. I backed the original Kickstarter, and the deck has just been reissued in a second edition. The page I linked to shows the original Tower, but it's been changed in the 2nd edition.

I use tarot as a means of self-reflection. I'll do a spread perhaps around the seasons, usually a New Year spread and an end-of-year reflection spread. I also have some tarot journals that serve as jumping-off points for reflections on things like creativity, self-image, and family/friend relationships.

I don't believe that tarot has any kind of oracular powers. The cards have never told me anything I didn't already know, just occasionally things I didn't know that I knew, or helped me focus my thinking on a particular question to the point where I had to realize an answer that I had been avoiding.
 

Crinos

Next to me you're all number two!
Validated User
Fun fact, my very first published Pathfinder product was a book about magical decks of card. For inspiration, I actually bought a Crowley deck off of Amazon. (I already had a rider Waite deck from when I was a kid).

I also bought a deck of hanafuda cards since I made a couple of magical Hanafuda decks for the product.

Anyways, i gotta go with the classic.
 

IB Kraken

I'm a pony!
Validated User
I know the Waite-Smith deck as the Rider-Waite deck, but that's the one I voted for.

It's just too iconic. Some will say that's a bad thing in every day use, but I see it as an overwhelming positive.
 

Arethusa

Sophipygian
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Rider was the company that published that Tarot deck. Arthur Edward Waite wrote up what should be on the cards.

Later (much later), people thought it might be worth giving a little credit to Pamela Colman Smith, the actual artist who designed and drew them.
 

Arethusa

Sophipygian
RPGnet Member
Validated User
Also it was Waite who changed what the Tarot was, removing or renaming its classic historic Christian symbolism and tacking on a lot of then-fashionable mysticism.
 

Isator Levie

Registered User
Validated User
I'm just going to quote the website:

HEXEN 2.0 Tarot features 78 alchemical drawings depicting interconnected histories of the computer and the internet, cybernetics and counterculture, science-fiction and scientific projections of the future, government and military research programmes, social engineering and ideas of the control society. Alongside these appear diverse philosophical, literary and political responses to technological advances, including the claims of anarcho-primitivism, technogaianism and transhumanism.
Here are a few examples to give a sense of what it's going for.

Three of Swords: MK ULTRA


Ten of Wands: Post-World War II Early Computers.


Temperence: ARPANET


The Fool: Aldous Huxley


This is a deck that I quite like because I'm rather fond of that encoding in symbolism going on in classical alchemy in its own right, enjoy the novelty of this post-modern take on it, and find it informative about various conceptual developments and figures across the 20th century.
 

JoeNotCharles

Registered User
Validated User
I only use my tarot deck as a gaming prop, so I wanted something striking and versatile, so that I could use it in a lot of potential settings. I think I lucked out with the first one I looked at: The Light and Shadow Tarot, a deck with block printed art with heavy black-and-white contrast and multicultural designs. I especially like that the designs are multicultural, so some have Celtic art and others have African or Indian, but the heavy black-and-white lines also feel abstract. Only issue is the cards are oversized so it can be hard to handle, but on the other hand the large cards show off the intricate art.

2 of Pentacles:



More large images:

Spoiler: Show

The Hermit:



The World:



Prince of Wands:




And a few striking ones I couldn't find full-size pictures of:

10 of Wands:



The Moon:

 
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