Tarot Decks

There are many many Tarot Decks in circulation. Each one is unique and some do not use the same card symbols. Each one is a personal experience brought into being by one or any of a number of authors. Some even depart completely from the usual themes we associate with Tarot Decks. I've handled a number of decks but there are three that I use extensively.

Arcus Arcanum Tarot — This was my first Tarot Deck. Created by Hansrudi Wäscher and Günter Hager in the mid 1980s it is a deceptively simple deck. Excellent for beginners, each card is loaded with symbolism but is also easy to interpret. The figures and their attitudes and positions give clear indication of the significance of each card. Even with little experience a novice can begin to pick up the process of Tarot. Highly recommended as a first deck. Unfortunately it currently seems to be out of print but is still available from some vendors. The cards are not meant to be reversible.

The Thoth Tarot — The famous Aleister Crowley/ Golden Dawn Deck. This is an unconventional

deck laid out according to Crowley's specifications and painted by the Lady Frieda Harris in the 1940s. The art work is stunning. This is a very advanced deck and is best studied with the book "Understanding Alister Crowley's Thoth Tarot" by Lon Milo Duquette. The little pamphlet included with the deck is okay but you need the book to truly drill down into what is going on. Not my absolute favorite but a very important deck to study if you at some point want to try and create your own personal Tarot or any other divination and self reflection tool. An endeavor that any serious student of Tarot and psychic-social divination should undertake. This entire website is my attempt at laying the foundations for my own.

The Hermetic Tarot — My most used and referred to deck. Based on symbolism from early pre Crowley Order of the Golden Dawn works by Mathers and others it is probably the most complete

deck available. It was created in the mid 1970s by Godfrey Dawson in stark black and white but packed with sephirotic, angelic, geomantic, numerical and kabalistic elements. Most of the elements found here are found in Crowley's Thoth but the Hermetic Tarot follows a more traditional path. Crowley drew heavily on the early works that inform this deck but he rearranged and tweaked them to suit his personality in the Thoth Tarot. This is a very dense and not necessarily user friendly deck. If doing readings for friends or family I would recommend one of the other two.

Note on card reversibility:

Some decks support card reversal others do not. By this I mean that when you look at the card back is there a design pattern that is symmetric? If there is some small detail that gives away the top or bottom of the card then it is not a reversible deck. It means that the deck is to be used only in the up orientation. Card meanings for reversed cards are an area of confusion. The subject matter of some cards, particularly change cards such as The Hanged Man or Death don’t really have a useful reverse position (some will dispute this I know). They are mainly modifier cards that act in the context of the surrounding cards depending on the reading spread. A much more common use is to lay a card sideways to indicate a conflict with or an enhancement of a directed card such as the querent card. A very skilled reader may not even use a pattern spread but will let each card find its proper place. But this is for much more advanced users. The use of reversed cards, in my experience, is for short reads of only a few cards such as the common three card spread. Although that one has a very specific thrust to it. Querent/Current Situation — Action/Influence — Resolution/Goal. The middle card could be subject to reversal but mainly to tell the querent weather to undertake or not undertake a specific action to reach a goal. The use of the reversed card really depends on where in the spread it falls. Consequently many practitioners forego the use of reversed cards and many if not most decks are direction specific. That said the publishers of most decks and commentators usually include a short sentence or two giving a reversed meaning to each card. Almost nowhere have I found descriptions and explanations of reversed meanings as detailed as the up orientation. This indicates to me that use of card reversals is in the minority with most practitioners.