At this point in the pandemic, your usual activities may be growing a bit stale. You’ve watched the movies, played the games, and baked all the sourdough.
Why not turn to the cards for some guidance?
Rather than predicting your future, tarot cards are a guide to your own intuition and wisdom. You can learn about the spreads and relationships between all the cards, or you can pull a single card and let the universe give you a little nibble of insight.
About Tarot Decks
There are two primary tarot decks that most modern designs are based on. The first is the 1909 Rider-Waite deck illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. The second is the 1943 Crowley Thoth deck illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris.
Reading the Rider-Waite deck is an easier undertaking, since it has a simpler instruction method. The Crowley Thoth deck requires more study to read correctly, which is why the Rider-Waite deck is usually recommended for beginners.
Both decks are separated into a Major Arcana and a Minor Arcana. The Major consists of 22 cards like The Hanged Man, The Empress, and Death. The Minor has 56 cards in four suits, usually wands, cups, swords, and pentacles (“disks” in the Crowley Thoth deck).
Within those general guidelines, artists have let their creative juices flow, taking inspiration from all over the world.
If you’re thinking about picking up a deck, here are 10 beautiful options. Many tarot card designers are independent artists, so remember to shop small when you can!
Neo Tarot is a gorgeous and inclusive box set featuring a diverse cast in a simple and bright art style. Designed by Daiana Ruiz, this set’s saturated block coloring offers a fresh contrast to the busy-ness of many cards.
The deck comes with a guidebook written by Jerico Mandybur, founding editorial director of Girlboss. Titled Neo Tarot: A Fresh Approach to Self-Care, Healing And Empowerment, the book eschews the witchy reputation of tarot and instead promotes the cards as a healing tool of self-care.
Neo Tarot is based on the Rider-Waite deck.
Lovers of Japanese culture will swoon over the Ukiyoe Tarot deck by artist Koji Furuta. Inspired by the dress and themes of Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868), these colorful cards include a small booklet to get started with your interpretation.
The Major Arcana depicts a Kabuki actor as the Magician and a palanquin as the Chariot. For the Minors, Edo coins are the pentacles, lacquered bowls are the cups, ceremonial sceptres are the wands, and samurai swords are...swords.
Modern Witch Tarot
The 100% female or gender-fluid Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle is a more modern take on the Rider-Waite deck. Many of the characters look like women you’d meet walking down the street.
The Chariot is represented by a motorcycle bearing a leather-jacketed beauty, and the Empress looks like she’s glamping at Coachella. My personal favorite card is the Ten of Swords — a woman laying on her side, pierced by daggers but still able to check her phone.
Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot Deck
Fans of Art Nouveau will love the Ethereal Visions Tarot Deck, drawn in the style of Alphonse Mucha. This dreamy deck was designed by Atlanta artist Matt Hughes.
The deck has two extras in the Major Arcana, for a total of 80 cards. Each card shines with gold foil stamping, and the set comes with a 48-page book for interpretations.
Sun and Moon Tarot
Vanessa Decort’s Sun and Moon Tarot takes a more playful approach to the cards. Her whimsical art style could have come straight from the pages of a children’s book.
This deck is based on the Crowley Thoth Tarot, and includes symbolism from a wide variety of religions and myths. The Major Arcana cards include an associated Hebrew letter, along with imagery from Greek mythology, the I Ching, Hinduism, and ancient Egypt.
Minimalist Tarot Deck
Problem: You’ve spent your shelter-in-place Marie Kondo-ing your house. Now the thought of a colorful tarot deck cluttering up your Zen is NOT bringing you joy.
Solution: this Minimalist Tarot Deck by Atlanta-based artist Katie Troisi in crisp black and white. The super clean line-based drawings will keep your space looking pristine.
This deck is based on the Rider-Waite deck.
The Marigold Tarot
The Marigold Tarot is the type of dark, dramatic set you’d expect to find in a gorgeous horror film. Designed by Canadian illustrator Amrit Brar, these cards have a linen finish and feature white and gold ink illustrations on black card stock.
The skeletal characters hold flowers and plants for wands, skulls as cups, rings, and swords. There is also Punjabi imagery through this Rider-Waite-inspired deck, seen in the robes of the Major Arcana characters.
Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot
The Nicoletta Ceccoli Tarot deck is a bit childish and also a bit creepy. The large-eyed little girls that dance and play their way through this deck are both whimsical and off-kilter. I like them...and they make me uncomfortable.
The Italian artist skipped the Major Arcana names in this Rider-Waite-based deck. And the included guidebook only goes over the basics. Instead, this deck is to be used with your intuition as your guide.
Neon Moon Tarot
A dystopian cyberpunk world set in black, purple, and hot pink, the Neon Moon Tarot deck looks like it’s straight out of a comic book.
Although the Major Arcana in this deck sticks with the Rider-Waite names, the Minor Arcana plays more with the card themes. Instead of the standard Page, Knight, Queen, and King in each suit, these cards feature an Apprentice, Agent, Supervisor, and menacing Executive.
As for the suits, wands are replaced with wires and swords become arms. Cups are turned to vials, which appear to be filled with something addictive. And discs become Zent, which are this world’s e-currency.
A 32-page guidebook explains the symbolism of each card. Any comic fan or futurist will seriously love this set.
She Wolfe Tarot
The She Wolfe Tarot is an ultra-feminine deck by artist Devany Wolfe. This deck’s 1970s desert vibe and Egyptian imagery aim to get you in touch with that divine goddess within.
The 80 cards in this deck are edged in rose gold and follow the basic Rider-Waite tradition. Illustrations represent themes like diversity, queer culture, and police brutality. The set also includes a 200 page guidebook to help you make sense of all this feminine power.
Got any tarot decks you love? We want to see ‘em! And tell us how you use the cards in your life. Single cards? A three-card past-present-future reading? The full spread?