Best Tarot Card Decks For Beginners 2020

Rank

Picture

Name

Rating

Shop

#1

BEST OVERALL

MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook

#2

RUNNER UP

MandAlimited Classic Tarot Cards Deck with - a Modern Touch

#3

Mystic Mondays Tarot

#4

BEST ILLUSTRATIONS

Tarot of the Divine

#5

RUNNER UP

Modern Witch Tarot Deck

Winner

MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook

Why it won

  • Modern update of the classic 1971 Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck
  • Illustrations are attractive, clear, and intuitive
  • Easy to shuffle and sturdy enough to stand up to a lot of use

Best Overall: MagicSeer Classic Design Tarot Cards Deck with Guidebook

  • Illustrations: Close reproduction of the Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck
  • Size: 78 cards, each measuring 4.75” x 2.76” printed on 350 gsm card
  • Book included: Yes

Pros

  • Sticking closely to the popular Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck is helpful for beginners
  • Illustrations are practical as well as attractive
  • Hits the sweet spot between flexibility and robustness

Cons

  • Guidebook isn’t particularly robust or user-friendly
  • Box could be easier to open and close

Overall

The illustrations in this tarot card deck are perfectly attractive, but they’ve clearly been designed for use by beginners. It’s easy to see the details on the cards and their meanings are intuitively expressed.

The accompanying guidebook is essentially a reprint of The Key to the Tarot by Arthur Waite. It isn’t the most user-friendly option. That said, the internet is full of helpful, beginner-friendly advice on how to read the Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck so this is unlikely to be an issue.

This tarot deck feels great in the hand. Even if you’re not used to handling cards, you should be able to shuffle and lay out these tarot cards easily. They’re robust but flexible and have a lovely finish.

Runner up: MandAlimited Classic Tarot Cards Deck with – a Modern Touch

  • Illustrations: Colorful, modern interpretation of the Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck
  • Size: 78 cards, each measuring 4.72” x 2.75” printed on 350 gsm card
  • Book included: Yes

Pros

  • High level of visibility
  • Excellent level of detail
  • Box is sturdy and easy to open and close

Cons

  • Colors may be a bit bright for some people
  • Guidebook is fairly minimal

Overall

If you have weaker eyesight or if you just enjoy bright, vibrant colors, then this may be the tarot deck for you.

The backs of these tarot cards are almost as attractive as the fronts. They feature a richly-colored mandala.

The box has a premium look to it and it opens along the long edge. This makes it easier to remove and replace the tarot cards.

Alternative: Mystic Mondays Tarot

  • Illustrations: Illustrated by Grace Duong. Ultra-modern and colorful, highlighted with foil and with holographic edges
  • Size: 78 cards, each measuring 4.88″ x 2.88″
  • Book included: Yes (and there’s also an app)

Pros

  • Artwork is outstanding
  • Guidebook is clear and user-friendly. There’s also an app
  • Box is sturdy and easy to open and close

Cons

  • Mystic Mondays has recurring issues with quality control
  • Cards stick together and are hard to shuffle
  • Guidebook is not particularly robust.

Overall

This tarot deck is loosely based on the Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck, but you’d probably have to look at it for a while to figure that out. The artwork has been completely updated.

The design of this tarot deck is a matter of taste, but the quality of the artwork is clearly excellent. The tarot cards themselves have premium touches like foil and holographic edges.

Sadly, these cards are notoriously difficult to shuffle. This could be a particular issue for beginners. Even the more experience, or people who enjoy card games, could struggle with them.

The guidebook is described as hardcover but it’s not particularly robust and will probably fall apart fairly quickly if you refer to it frequently. Fortunately, the app is excellent. If you don’t want to rely on your phone or tablet, you can print information from the internet or buy another reference book on the Rider, Waite, Smith tarot deck.

Lastly, when you get a good deck, the quality of these tarot cards is excellent. It does, however, have to be said that Mystic Mondays has experienced recurring issues with quality control. Hopefully, these have now been resolved. To be on the safe side, however, it’s best to buy from a retailer with a dependable returns policy.

Best illustrations: Tarot of the Divine

  • Illustrations: Illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani. Inspired by deities, folklore, and fairy tales from around the world
  • Size: 78 cards, each measuring 4.75″ x 2.75″
  • Book included: Yes

Pros

  • Illustrations are superb
  • Guidebook has an intuitive layout. It’s concise but clear
  • Cards feel nice in the hand and are easy to shuffle and lay out.

Cons

  • Very light nudity on some images, may not be suitable for some readers
  • Very little information on the stories behind the artwork.

Overall

Objectively, this is one of the best tarot decks around. It’s justifiably one of the best-selling tarot decks around. These may not, however, be the best tarot cards for beginners.

The problem is that beginners may struggle to link the imagery with the significance of the cards. In principle, the guidebook can resolve this. In practice, it can be tedious to keep having to refer to a guidebook during a reading.

That said, if you are prepared to take the time to familiarize yourself with the images, this is a lovely deck to use. Right from the moment you pick up the box, everything has a premium look and feel.

The box opens completely along the long edge. The tarot cards are easy to remove and replace. When you hold them in your hand, they are strong but flexible. The finish makes them easy to grip while still allowing them to be shuffled easily.

It is, however, the artwork that really sells this deck. It seamlessly blends international deities, folklore, and fairytales with traditional tarot archetypes. You may not agree with all the choices made, but overall this tarot deck is an artistic masterpiece.

Runner up: Modern Witch Tarot Deck

  • Illustrations: Illustrated by Lisa Sterle. Contemporary, youthful, and diverse but sophisticated
  • Size: 78 cards, each measuring 4.75″ x 2.75″
  • Book included: Yes

Pros

  • Very diverse and inclusive deck
  • Premium-looking box, easy to open and close. Sturdy enough to be travel-friendly.
  • Guidebook is succinct but comprehensive

Cons

  • Minimal older characters and no male characters
  • Some mild nudity, sexual imagery, may not be appropriate for all readers
  • Cards are very thick and heavy, so can be difficult to shuffle.

Overall

A lot of what you need to know about this tarot deck is in the name. It’s clearly been designed for younger, female witches. Most of the images in the deck are of younger women.

The reason this tarot deck is praised for diversity is that it includes women of all colors, shapes, and sizes. The reason this tarot deck is criticized for its lack of diversity is that there are minimal older characters and no male characters. Some readers find that this makes this tarot deck feel unbalanced to them. Others are fine with it.

In short, therefore, the imagery on this tarot card deck will either speak to you or it won’t. If it does, then it could be a great choice as the overall quality is very high. The one practical issue with this tarot card deck is that the cards are so thick that they can be hard to shuffle. You may, therefore, find yourself having to split the deck.

If, however, you’re fine with that then the thickness of these tarot cards should ensure that they stand up to a lot of use.

Tarot Card Decks For Beginners FAQ

Tarot cards are cards with a symbolic image on one side and a neutral image on the other side.

They are used to divine information about a person’s life. This may involve considering their future, but it can also refer to their past and their present.

Reading tarot cards depends on a combination of skill and intuition. Skill can be acquired through study and experience. Intuition depends greatly on the connection between the reader and the tarot card deck they are using.

This means that the best tarot card desks for one reader may not be the best tarot decks for another reader. You need to be guided partly by practicalities and partly by your intuition and response to any given tarot deck.

For example, you can use recommendations to guide you towards high-quality tarot decks. Then you can use your intuition to pick the best tarot card deck for you.

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about tarot card decks.

How many tarot cards are in a deck?

A standard deck of tarot cards will contain 78 cards. These are divided into the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards).

The Major Arcana tarot cards are also known as trump cards. They are not ranked, but there is a common numbering system for them.

The Major Arcana tarot cards and their associations

0 The Fool – innocence, openness, raw energy, and vulnerability
1 The Magician – uniqueness, and resourcefulness
2 The High Priestess – awareness/self-awareness and intuition
3 The Empress – compassion, beauty, love, appreciation of and connection with nature
4 The Emperor – leadership, authority, power, structure, and stability
5 The Hierophant – spirituality, spiritual messages, external spiritual guidance
6 The Lovers – important values including close relationships both romantic and platonic
7 The Chariot – drive and determination, “get up and go”.
8 Strength – mental and emotional strength as well as physical strength, resourcefulness
9 The Hermit – the need for peace and stillness, perhaps solitude
10 Wheel of Fortune – impermanence, and change, the importance of focusing on the present
11 Justice – decisions, and actions have consequences
12 The Hanged Man – being stuck in limbo, needing to break free of it and act
13 Death – endings, the need to move on
14 Temperance – patience, and thoughtfulness
15 The Devil – feeling trapped and helpless
16 The Tower – destruction, letting go of the old to make way for the new
17 The Star – optimism, inspiration, and healing
18 The Moon – subconscious concerns, such as anxiety, self-doubt, and hidden fears
19 The Sun – positivity, vitality, and optimism
20 Judgment – a reminder that your decisions and actions determine your path through life
21 The World – successful completion

The Minor Arcana Tarot Cards and their associations

Card

Wands
(Earth)
The physical world

(Air)
The world of the mind

Cups
(Water)
Emotions

Swords
(Fire)
Action

Ace

Drastic change

Drastic change

Drastic change

Drastic change

Two

Ambition

Confusion

Bond

Crossroads

Three

Obsolescence

Pondering

Festivity

Separation

Four

Celebration

Self-obsession

Melancholia

Commemoration

Five

Calamity

Destitution

Despair

Desertion

Six

Success

Generosity

Happiness

Loss

Seven

Competition

Contemplation

Temptation

Betrayal

Eight

Obstacles

Skill

Disgust

Victim

Nine

Recovery

Prosperity

Gluttony

Gluttony

Ten

Strain

Wisdom

Bliss

Defeat

Page

Helpful friend

Agreeable friend

Comforting friend

Allied friend

Knight

Material advancement

Intellectual advancement

Emotional advancement

Advancement in action

Queen

Settling with possessions

Settling mind

Settling emotions

Settling calamity

How do beginners use tarot cards?

You can think of learning how to use tarot cards as being very similar to learning a new language.

When you’re a beginner, you generally focus on learning basic grammar and the vocabulary you need to deal with everyday situations. As you process, you learn to hone your skills until eventually, you’re fluent.

The grammar of tarot is the mechanics of setting up a reading. This includes:

Clearing your head before a reading
Setting your question
Choosing the right layout
Deciding how you will approach your reading
Setting up your space
Shuffling your tarot cards
Laying out your tarot cards

The vocabulary of tarot is the imagery on the tarot card deck. At a basic level, it is knowing the Major Arcana (or the trump cards) and the Minor Arcana. When you first start to learn how to read a tarot card deck, you may have to refer to a guidebook every time you pick up a card. Bit by bit, however, you will learn the basic associations of each tarot card.

Once you are comfortable with all this, you will be ready to progress to intermediate level and beyond!

What is the most common tarot deck?

most common deck

The three most common tarot decks are the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, the Tarot of Marseilles, and the Thoth tarot deck.

The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck was first produced in 1909. It was a collaboration between the publisher William Rider, the mystic Arthur Waite, and the artist Pamela Colman Smith. This tarot card deck is still one of the best-selling tarot decks today. It is also the inspiration behind many other popular tarot card decks.

The Tarot of Marseilles is believed to date back to the 17th century. It is still both widely used and widely available today.

The Thoth tarot card deck is named after the Egyptian god of wisdom and dates to 1943. It was created by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. The Thoth tarot deck has always been relatively niche compared to the other two main forms of tarot card decks. It has, however, inspired the design of many tarot decks.

Choosing the right type of tarot deck for you is, however, just a starting point. There are several other issues you need to consider before making a final choice.

How easy are the tarot cards for you to manage?

You don’t need to be able to shuffle cards like a magician but you do need to be able to shuffle them effectively.

It’s often very useful to be able to shuffle them at least reasonably quickly, especially if you want to do readings for other people. This means that, ideally, tarot cards should be able to flex slightly. They should, however, be strong enough not to bend permanently.

Once you’ve shuffled the cards, you will need to lay them out. Then you’ll need to turn them over. Then you’ll need to pick them up again. This means that you want cards with a finish which is easy for you to grip. At the same time, you still want the cards to glide enough to be turned easily. This also helps with shuffling.

What is the overall quality of the tarot deck?

The most important point is the overall quality of the tarot cards themselves. There are two parts to this. The first is their actual physical quality and the second is the quality of the printing on them.

There’s usually a strong link between the thickness of the card used in a tarot card deck and the physical quality of a tarot card deck. Thinner cards may feel fine in your hand at first. The problem with them is that they are unlikely to have what it takes to stand up to regular shuffling and turning. You’ll quickly notice wear and tear, usually starting at the corners and then moving onto the edges. You’ll probably find that the printing tends to fade quickly too.

Another good indicator of quality is the amount of care that has been put into the back of the tarot card deck. It’s fine if the backs of the tarot cards are plain. They should, however, be neat and tidy and generally look like some thought has gone into them.

The quality of the printing refers to how well the imagery is printed onto the tarot cards. This is different from the question of whether or not the imagery speaks to you personally. It has to be said that even the best tarot card deck producers will turn out the odd, poor tarot card deck that, somehow, slips past quality-control. When this happens, however, you can just return the faulty tarot deck for a new one.

There are, however, some tarot card decks out there, that simply have poor-quality printing. Again, this is probably connected with the choice of card and possibly the ink. It may also be a reflection of the speed at which they are manufactured.

For example, if a tarot deck is marketed as a game rather than a serious divination tool, most buyers may not be concerned about low-quality imagery. In fact, they may not even notice it. In this sort of situation, your best option is probably just to return the tarot card deck for a refund.

In addition to the quality of the tarot cards themselves, it’s preferable if they come with a good-quality box and a guidebook.

How well do you connect with the tarot card deck

This is arguably the most important point of all. Fortunately, there are so plenty of high-quality tarot decks available. This means that you’re sure to be able to find a high-quality tarot deck that speaks to you. Here are some points to consider.

Do you prefer a traditional look or a modern one?

This question should probably be your starting point. Some people love the whole history of tarot and very much appreciate tarot card decks that reflect its deep roots. Some people see tarot as being a practice for the modern world and hence prefer tarot decks that reflect the modern world. Some people are happy with either.

Do you prefer bright colors or muted ones?

Some people find bright colors literally easier to see. Alternatively, you may find that brighter colors speak to you more powerfully than muted ones. Other people, however, may find that using brighter-colored tarot cards is the equivalent of reading a message WRITTEN COMPLETELY IN CAPITAL LETTERS.

Do you prefer simple/minimalist imagery or complex/highly-detailed imagery?

As a beginner, you may find it easier to use simple/minimalist imagery. This tends to focus on the essentials. You then use your intuition to guide you to explore deeper meanings.

If, however, you are naturally drawn to more complex/highly-detailed imagery, then go with your instinct. Let that guide you on how to get the most out of your tarot card deck. For example, you could start by focusing on the key points and then delving into the deeper meanings as you gain knowledge and experience.

Can you live with a tarot deck having a few cards you don’t particularly like?

You can think of a tarot card deck as being like a collection of work colleagues. Ideally, you should have a great relationship with all of them. This is possible both in the world of work and in the world of tarot card decks. It can, however, take quite a bit of searching for you to find this perfect situation.

Alternatively, however, you may find a tarot deck where you connect strongly with most of the tarot cards but aren’t so keen on some of the others. You need to decide for yourself whether or not this is a deal-breaker for you.

Is the back of the tarot card deck appealing to your eye?

Although the significance of the tarot cards is captured on the front, the back of the tarot card deck matters too. The backs of the tarot cards must be identical and they should also be appealing to the eye.

This may sound like a lot to ask from a deck of tarot cards. There are, however, so many tarot card decks available, you should be able to find at least one that’s just right for you.

When you are new to tarot cards, you may want to stick to using a single tarot card deck so that you build up a relationship with it. As you gain experience, however, you may want to expand your range of tarot card decks so you have different options.

If you’re planning on giving tarot card readings, then you may want to have a selection of tarot card decks to suit different querents. All of these tarot card decks need to speak to you. It can, however, be useful if the querent also connects with them.

Can you read your own tarot cards?

read own tarot

You can read your own tarot cards. In fact, the basic principle of reading tarot cards for yourself is exactly the same as the basic principle of reading tarot cards for other people.

At the same time, however, reading the tarot cards for yourself may not be the best idea, especially if you’re a beginner. You may be too wrapped up in a situation to be able to interpret the tarot card deck effectively.

With that said, here is a brief guide to how to read your own tarot cards, including when it would probably be best to get help from someone else.

Clear your head

If you’re highly emotional, then you should probably leave your tarot cards alone. Even if your energy is positive, it can influence the reading. Either wait until you’re calmer or get help from another tarot card reader.

Set your question carefully

Your tarot cards will answer the question you ask them. It’s on you to make sure that the question you ask your tarot cards is the question you want them to answer.

Hone your question down to its absolute essentials so that you can get a meaningful answer from a simple layout.

Once you’re happy with your question, write it down.

Define the rules of your reading

Here are some questions you should answer for yourself before you start your reading:

What one tarot layout will I use?

As a beginner, it’s best to stick to simple layouts, especially if you’re reading for yourself. Ideally, you want to stick to three-card layouts. These include:

Past / Present / Future
Situation / Action / Outcome
Option A / Option B / How to choose

How many cards will I allow myself to draw to clarify points?

Again, keep it simple. It’s fine to allow yourself to draw a few extra cards, say one or two per card, so up to a maximum of six.

That, however, should probably be your absolute maximum. If you start going beyond this, you can end up confusing and frustrating yourself. Just stop. Either get help from someone else or, at the very least, give yourself a decent break before trying again.

What single point of reference will I use to determine the meaning of a tarot card?

Similar comments apply here. Forget about referencing every book on tarot cards you can find.

Pick one source and stick with it. Only use it if you feel you really need it. Remember, you’ll be using your own tarot deck. The guiding force is your intuition.

Set up your space as carefully as you usually would

Show respect and care for your tarot cards, and yourself, by setting up your space as carefully as you would if you were undertaking a reading for someone else.

Shuffle and lay out the cards properly

You must shuffle your tarot cards thoroughly to get the full benefit from a reading. Similarly, you need to set out your layout properly. Again, treat this stage as seriously as you would if you were doing a tarot card reading for someone else.

Read the cards at a moderate speed

You may be eager for an answer to your question, but if you just charge in and skim-read your tarot cards, you may end up making a mistake.

At the same time, however, you should resist any temptation to pore into the meaning of any of the cards unless you really feel that it’s necessary. If you’ve asked a simple question, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to need to delve into the deepest symbolism of your tarot card deck.

Write down the answer to your question

Writing down the answer to your question saves you having to rely on your memory.

Write down everything you remember and reflect on it later

Even if your reading was unsuccessful, you can still learn from it. If your reading was successful then it’s still important to record it so that you have a note of what went well.

Conclusion

Learning how to interpret the meanings of 78 tarot cards may seem intimidating. It certainly takes study and practice. You can, however, start at a very basic level and then progress with experience.

Your path to learning tarot will be much smoother if you choose the right tarot card deck for you. The right tarot card deck for you is a high-quality card deck that speaks to you personally and helps you to channel your intuition.