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All Hands On These Tarot Decks!

Tarot Card Reading

There’s no doubt about it, tarot cards are wonderful tools; for divination, writing and in psychotherapy. And because of that it should be noted that using newer tarot decks will require a flexible mind and a willingness to adapt as individual decks have differences in style that give you a different perspective to what one deck might offer with the same card names and titles.

The most well-known publishers of tarot are Lo Scarebeo and Llewellyn, although Llewellyn is primarily a publisher for Mind, Body, Spirit books. Some of these decks are also available as apps for portable devices like phones or tablets so you can carry them around several decks in one handy device; or even two.

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, any of the following decks will be a great starter or addition to any collection of tarot decks.

#1 Universal Tarot

Corrine Kenner used the images from these cards in her book Tarot for Writers. This deck is a reproduction of the original Rider-Waite deck; a great first deck for a beginner just starting to use the tarot. The images are bright and eye-catching, making it easy to help memorize the cards’ meanings. But if you prefer something closer to the older decks, the Original Rider Rider-Waite deck (For UK readersFor USA readers) is also available from most major booksellers.

The Universal Tarot: For UK readers, for USA readers.

The Universal Tarot is also available as an app by Fool’s Dog LLP on iTunes and Google Store.

#2 Mystical Manga Tarot

Rann & Barbara Moore; Llewellyn Publications; £25 ($29.99)

Originally self-published in Europe but is now available from Llewellyn Publications.  The illustrator, French artist Rann, creates some of the most exquisite illustrations.  The figures are in the Japanese graphic novel style, which would appeal to a younger user or someone who is generally interested in that style of illustration.

The deck comes in a box with its' own guidebook written by Barbara Moore, a well-known writer of books on Tarot, though it reads like a storybook.  The images follow the Rider-Waite template, but Rann has made some changes but enough to make it interesting and open to interpretation.

Bear in mind that the cards are a bit thinner than other decks, so be sure to handle them carefully if you decide to carry them around with you.  You might want to consider purchasing an alternative case for the cards rather than always dragging their box around.

A more in-depth review of this deck is available on my blog.

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#3 Romantic Tarot

The Romantic Tarot would make a great addition to any tarot collection with its very romantic and whimsical imagery. It is set during the Belle Époque, which covered the late 19th and early 20th century. Following this theme, the deck depicts an idyllic and artistic lifestyle, as well as the traditions and values of Victorian period. But even with all this positivity, there are cards that illustrate the negative aspects of love; jealousy, heartbreak, unrequited affections, and so on.

The deck follows Rider-Waite, but the some of the images are not completely in keeping with the template which is what makes it harder to interpret. This might be because it was created as a deck that deals with emotion, passion, romance and courtly love. It highlights issues that you might not even be aware of and offers sage romantic advice. But because of its’ specialised focus, reviewers do not recommend this deck for beginners, but it would be a useful tool for writers of romance if they write what they see a scene of a story rather than just focussing on the deck’s deeper meanings.

The Major Arcana cards have the titles that you would expect but the images have quite a few major differences, mostly in the setting or scenarios depicted traditional decks. For example, the World card usually shows a woman floating in the clouds encircled by a wreath, and a mythological creature in each of the four corners of the card, but the Romantic Tarot’s version depicts a family of three holding up a huge globe. Meanwhile, the Minor Arcana is set in four of the most romantic cities in Europe; the Chalice Suit is set in Venice; Wands in Vienna; Pentacles in Rome; and Swords in Paris. Depending on which suit they come from, each card has the corresponding number of Cups, Swords, Wands or Pentacles in the images, though some of them maybe be a little hard to spot in the pictures.

Rather than purchasing this deck for a beginner, it’s definitely more suite for those with a thorough working knowledge of the tarot and can be flexible enough that they can apply what they know in a romantic situation.

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#4 Druidcraft Tarot

Phillip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm; EddisonBooks Ltd; £24.99

The Druidcraft Tarot comes as a set with its own guidebook in an attractive box. This deck will be an addition to a taromancer, psychiatrist or writer’s toolbox.

The Druidcraft Tarot has been described as “rich and inviting”, which it definitely is with its vivid colours and gentle way of illustrating the things that it wants to show you. The deck itself follows the usual titles of a Rider-Waite or Thoth deck, but any differences in the images from the traditional illustrations come from either Celtic mythology and what little is known of the ancient Celtic and Druidic culture.

The Major Arcana is where the most changes have been applied. For example, the Emperor and Empress cards have been changed to Lord and Lady; and the Devil card, instead of a hellish entity with two human figures in chains, the Druidcraft Tarot shows a man and a woman lying in a forest glade with the silhouette of a horned being emerging from the forest, which will most likely be the Herne, the British deity of the Hunt, or the Gaulish Cernunnos. The Minor Arcana have largely remained the same in essential with only cosmetic changes in keeping with the mythology, and the only real changes to the Court cards in which the deck has Prince and Princess in each suit instead of Knight and Page as they didn’t have the latter titles in Celtic culture.

This deck can be used by anyone tarot reader as long as they keep an open mind; though it doesn’t hurt that it comes with its own guidebook. This is also perfect for those who have an interest in the Celtic mythology and Druidic tradition, which are fairly easy to find out as many books on the on the subject have been published.

The Druidcraft Tarot is also available as an app by Fool’s Dog LLP on iTunes for £3.99 and Google Store £3.79.

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#5 Necronomicon Tarot

Donal Tyson & Anne Stokes, Llewellyn Publications; £28.37

This would be a perfect gift for anyone with an interest in horror or in the occult writer H.P. Lovecraft. The deck is rife with terrifying figures and images of the grotesque demonic dimension that Lovecraft wrote about so extensively from his nightmares.

The deck comes in an attractive dark box with its own guidebook. The box itself is dark, with images of a few of the cards, advertising its contents. As one would expect of Lovecraft’s occult world in card form, the images are dark and forbidding, and often grotesque. For those who are more familiar with Lovecraft’s works will love this card version of his work brought to life. For a deck comprised of digital illustrations, there is a certain realism that sends a shiver along your spine.

The images in the deck have been greatly altered to fit in with Lovecraft’s mythology, but it generally follows the normal Rider-Waite template. The Minor Arcana follow the Donal Tyson’s own stories that he wrote in the Necronomicon canon, but _ a form of fan fiction. Because of this, some Lovecraft purists might not find this deck as appealing.

Like with most tarot decks, reading this one will require an open-mind and be willing to be flexible in your interpretations.

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This deck is also available as an app by Fool’s Dog LLP on iTunes for £3.99 and Google Store for £3.79.

#6 Pagan Tarot

Pagan Tarot

The Pagan Tarot is a very interesting deck. Like to the Book of Shadows Tarot set, it depicts Wiccan beliefs and how they apply to life in the mundane world. But rather than showing them in two separate decks, both the spiritual and mundane, are shown in one deck and offers a glimpse into the Wiccan lifestyle.

The Pagan Tarot is a bit blunter in the in your face kind of way, which can be a bit difficult to deal with. This is especially difficult to understand if one is not familiar with the beliefs and principles of the Wiccan system, therefore it would be a good idea to have a book on the subject (UK readers, USA readers) on hand that can explain the finer points of their religion and culture.

Like other Lo Scarebo decks, the Pagan Tarot is somewhat outside the norm. While most of the titles stay the same, the imagery is very different. Most of the cards from both the Major and Minor Arcanas depict seemingly ordinary scenes in a young woman’s everyday life, as well as her second life as a Pagan. The Court cards titles have been changed to Novice, Initiate, and Elder in place of knight, queen and king. The Page is replaced by the Elemental; a nature spirit which corresponds to the elements that each suit represents, like a Salamander for Wands which are representative of Fire.

The Pagan Tarot is available, either as a kit (UK readers) which includes a guidebook, or just as a card deck (UK readers, USA readers).

#7 Tarot of Vampyres

Ian Daniels; Llewellyn Publications; £30

This is a very dark gothic deck; perfect for those involved with the Goth subculture or a fascination with vampire mythology. The Tarot of Vampyres‘ cards follow the traditional titles, but in the Minor Arcana, the Cups are replaced with Grails; Swords have become Knives; Wands are displaced by Sceptres; and Pentacles are Skulls instead. And the Court Cards are Lords, Queens, Princes and Daughters rather than Kings, Queens, Knights and Pages. The images themselves are also very different from the ordinary Rider Waite decks and the figures take up most of the cards.

In the accompanying book, Phantasmagoria, Daniels cites the Jungian concept of shadow, and of facing one’s fears. The deck’s imagery is certainly intimidating, in a dark and gothic way, which is further enhanced by the beautiful pale faces that stare out from the cards at the viewer and send shivers down your spine. There is also an emphasis on the seductive side of the vampire myth, with the figures in suggestive or intimidating poses. And because of the differences and the sexual implications in the illustrations, this deck is definitely not for beginners or the faint of heart, but it is perfect for horror writers.

The Tarot of Vampyres deck is also available as an app by Fool’s Dog LLP on iTunes for £3.99 and Google Store for £3.79.

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Written by N.S. Jones

N.S. Jones is a writer and blogger from Oxfordshire, England. In her spare time, she is usually found sketching and drawing scenes and characters for her stories or teaching herself taromancy to help find inspiration for her writing, and playing around with her Canon DSLR camera.

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