Tarot cards have been a part of my self-care routine for about 4 years now, and though I only had one deck at first, during the last year, and especially during this year’s pandemic, I’ve been collecting a fair few more. I’ve been posting mini reviews on Instagram, but I’ve been meaning to create a space for them here on the blog. Here it is!
How I use tarot decks
As many a tarot reader will tell you, there’s no wrong way to read the cards.
Sometimes I use these decks to do a variety of in-depth readings. I prefer to use them in my personal practice only and don’t typically read for others. Though, as an empath, I have, at times, unintentionally picked up on other energies… like that time I pulled The Tower from three different decks in one day but realized a week later, it was actually about a relative of mine.
Most often I love doing daily single-card pulls (sometimes from a few different decks), just to meditate on what it means for me or to gauge my energy and intentions for the day etc.
And occasionally, I simply like to look through a deck, admiring the artwork one card at a time, as I would a book. I find this very calming. I’ve found that card decks are one way I like to collect and appreciate art, though they are also useful tools for self-reflection, goal setting, and dreaming. I also use them for character and plot generation/development in my writing.
Naturally, as different decks make their way into my life, I will update this page. I’ll also be creating a separate post for art nouveau specific tarot decks, and one for oracle decks! Stay tuned.
The decks… in no particular order
Crystal Unicorn Tarot
Box: Rigid satin matte box with base and lid. Love it.
Cards: 78 cards. Satin matte and of decent quality.
Guidebook: 44 pages. 2-3 sentence descriptions with keywords (including reversed keywords). It’s brief but written in a really fun way. I’d say it’s good for beginners or experienced readers, or those who just love unicorns.
Concept / artwork: Pamela Chen (of Luna Prosperity) is the concept/creator but this deck is illustrated by Lisa Higuchi. The light, whimsical style always lifts me up and brings a light, sparkling feeling to my day. It’s based on the Rider-Waite tarot but with unicorns, rainbow, pastels, and corresponding crystal/s on each card. I always love using this deck and feel it is has great value. I use it a lot.
The Fountain Tarot
Box: Rigid box with magnetic fold-over lid. Iridescent/gloss finish. I LOVE the magnetic fold-over lid. Wish all decks had a box like this. When open, the lid lays flat beside the box and creates a little mat on which to set the book or cards.
Cards: 79 cards. Based on Rider-Waite but with the addition of The Fountain. Nice smooth matte stock with silver foil edges.
Guidebook: Small, but mighty! 103 packed pages. This is the deck and guidebook I learned on and what I’ve recommended to a few people as a starter deck.
Concept / artwork: These modern illustrations mix classic symbolism with contemporary art. There’s a nice range of muted tones and soft blending with shots of contrasting color. Many of them have an airiness about them that evokes an ethereal realm. I find these cards read very true and clear and are great for an everyday practice. Find it from Roost Books.
Box: Rigid satin matte box with base and lid, and some iridescent foiling. This one wins cutest box award from me, with the cat peering out from the bottom lid!
Cards: 78 cards. Average stock (not too thin).
Guidebook: 108-page guidebook. Includes upright and reversed descriptions and though brief, they are written with a humorous cat-angle, as you’d imagine. I find it a little hard to use because the suites are not easily marked. Note: The font tiny.
Concept / artwork: This deck is funny and if you love cats like I do, well. It’s a must for cat-lovers. I really like this deck except for the fact that the minor arcana are marked with little symbols that aren’t (at least not at first) intuitive. And when you go to look them up in the guidebook, as mentioned, it’s hard to find the right section. So while it might seem like the fun and light type of deck that a beginner would pick up, I actually don’t think it is too beginner-friendly. But… cats.
The Last Unicorn Tarot
Box: Thin, satin matte standard playing card box (top tuck). I do wish this one had a thicker two-piece box but that is my one and only gripe about it.
Cards: 78 cards. A little wider than a standard tarot card (which I love), on thick satin matte stock with gold foil details and edges. *chef’s kiss*
Guidebook: A small hardbound, full-color beauty. There’s a page (or two) for each card and include upright and reversed. A lot of thought went into this booklet and the deck and it shows.
Concept / artwork: Can I please give this deck more than five stars? It might be my very favorite. It’s inspired by Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn and each card illustrated specifically for this deck is a work of art. Sometimes I just stare, and stare at them. Five different artists actually illustrated these (one for each suit, plus major arcana) and even though I’ve used it a hundred times I’m still in love with it. The team at Geekify did a stellar job on this… and one of my greatest hopes is that they’ll create a deck inspired by The Dark Crystal!
Mystic Faerie Tarot
Box: Thin, glossy side-tuck box. Nicer than a standard top tuck box (like you get in a standard deck of playing cards). *There is a boxed kit option with a nice sturdy box and larger guidebook.
Cards: 78 cards. These cards are on the thinner side and are slippery AF! It’s not my preferred card stock but the gloss finish does make them water resistant I guess. It bothers me less and less the more I use them though.
Guidebook: Black and white booklet. The guidebook isn’t huge but I like how it’s written and it’s substantial enough that those new to tarot could start with this deck. It also includes fun themed spread suggestions such as “Dew Drop” and “Lily Pond” and “Faerie Ring.”
Concept / artwork: I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this deck when I first opened it (though I love all things faerie). But in the dozen times I’ve used it so far, I’ve gotten really good vibes and really like how it reads. I love the colors used in the artwork and the composition of most of the illustrations, though for a while many of the faces bothered me just a bit. I couldn’t pinpoint it, and then I realized it’s because most of the fairies have Vulcan eyebrows… 😂
Dark Wood Tarot
Box: This is one of Llewellyn’s boxed kits so this box is a nice quality, sturdy with magnetic closure.
Cards: 78 cards. The card stock itself is one of those super slippery/gloss finish kinds and a little thin (for me, anyway — I love a thicker, satin-matte stock) if I’m being super picky but the price of this deck is 👌🏼.
Guidebook: One of the best guidebooks I’ve yet come across. 304 pages filled with an enchanting story that builds as you go through the cards, guidance on examining the shadow self, alchemical questions, patterns, spreads, and more. Plus detailed descriptions of the cards, of course.
Concept / artwork: From the enchanting box to the art on each card, this is a collab meant to be between Sasha Graham and artist Abigail Larson (@abigail_larson). I am a huge fan of the art! Each card is beautifully thought out and I notice something new each time I reexamine them. They’re full of depth and, like a stroll through an ever changing forest, utterly captivating. I’ve been familiarizing myself with this one for maybe 2 months now and would definitely recommend.
Everyday Witch Tarot + Mini
Box: The full-size is a boxed kit from Llewellyn, so it is a nice quality, sturdy with magnetic closure. The mini fit-in-your-pocket deck comes in a slim top-tuck box.
Cards: 78 cards. The full-size and mini have identical cards except for the size difference. Full-size is 2 3/4 x 4 5/8 inches and the mini cards are 1 3/4 x 3 inches. The full-size are on the thinner size and semi-gloss, and the mini are the same thickness but feel thicker because they’re smaller, and are a smooth matte finish.
Guidebook: A 252-page guidebook, but there are many blank pages for notes throughout as well. The writer and artist vibe so well together and it really shows.
Concept / artwork: I fell in love with this deck (first with the mini version) and loved it so much I had to see what the guidebook said and have a full-size set! So I got the boxed set. And, recently the Everyday Witch Oracle deck too! Elisabeth Alba’s artwork is so whimsical, and makes me feel welcome when I pick up these cards. Plus, there’s a cat, witch hat, and broomstick on the backs, and a cat or cats in almost every card in the deck (all but five I think?). This has become one of my very favorite decks and if you were looking at it and maybe on the fence, I say go for it. It really is a deck for everyday use.
Edmund Dulac Tarot
Box: Thin, glossy standard playing card box (top tuck).
Cards: 78 cards. Standard matte stock. This deck can be a little hard to read at first because the arcana aren’t spelled out but there are symbols/numbers to signify and it just take a little longer to get to know the deck if you’re new to tarot.
Guidebook: Comes with a little black and white booklet in five languages with an average of 6 lines each for major arcana and 3 lines each for minor arcana. So, it’s brief, but better than nothing! Maybe not the best if it’s your first deck, but fine for intermediate or experienced readers.
Concept / artwork: I love discovering new art through decks but also think it’s SO cool when a deck is made from a collection of classic work! Edmund Dulac (1882-1953) was a French painter/illustrator (became a naturalized British citizen) during the “golden age.” He was commissioned to illustrate Jane Eyre and nine other volumes of works by the Brontë sisters. He illustrated the The Arabian Nights (1907), several tales by Hans Christian Andersen (1910), many other books, for newspapers etc after WWI (when deluxe illustrated books became a rarity), and many more. I could easily gaze at each card for minutes at a time… each one a whole story, a whole world. This is a beautiful deck to use if you love Golden Age art!
Box: Thin, glossy standard playing card box (top tuck).
Cards: 78 cards. Standard matte stock. Similar to the Dulac deck, the arcana aren’t spelled out but there are symbols/numbers to signify them.
Guidebook: Similar to the Dulac deck it comes with a little black and white booklet in five languages with an average of 6 lines each for major arcana and 3 lines each for minor arcana.
Concept / artwork: Aurthur Rackham is one of my favorite classic fairy tale artists of all time. Having 78 Rackham illustrations as tarot cards is just too cool!!! Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) was one of the greats during the Golden Age of British book illustration. His work is known for its distinct pen and ink drawings, which were combined with the use of watercolor (and a very selective palette). He’s known for illustrating such works as Gulliver’s Travels and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (both 1900), Aesop’s Fables (1912), and Cinderella (1919) among a long list of others. Each card holds so much magic and so much to discover! I treasure it.✨ I didn’t give these 5 stars because I’d love to see these works of art on slightly larger (or at least slightly wider) cards and on thicker stock with sturdier boxes. But I’m thrilled that these have even been made into tarot decks to begin with.
Circle of Life Tarot
Box: The box played a huge part in my purchasing this deck. It’s a really sturdy laminated circular board box with base and lid. It looks to be the perfect size to hold a wheel of brie cheese.
Cards: 78 cards. These cards are 4 1/4 inch circles. So different! They are on the average/thin stock weight and have a glossy finish.
Guidebook: It does come with a very small 2 x 3-inch guidebook, in six languages, tucked in the bottom of the box beneath the well for the cards. Despite it being small it has a lot packed in it with about half a page dedicated to each card, and unique suggestions for a circular 12-month spread.
Concept / artwork: The art, by Maria Distefano is very eclectic. The backs of the cards have a sort of mandala illustration, and the fronts have all manner of interesting humans, creatures, spirits, and elements of nature. I don’t love every single card as I might in some other decks, but I really appreciate how unique this one is, and how refreshing it is to work with disc-shaped cards. Useful for breaking free of an energy rut. Though I will say, they’re a bit hard to shuffle. You can find it here.
*Four of these decks were gifted to me from Llewellyn. This post is not sponsored and all opinions are my own.
Forthcoming decks I’m excited for!
There are a few decks I’ve been waiting quite some time for and I’ll certainly be posting about them when they arrive.
In September 2019 I pre-ordered the Materia Prima tarot deck by Uusi Design Studio via their kickstarter campaign. There were several delays in their process and manufacturing and they’ve recently said they should finally be able to ship October 2020. This deck is based on the periodic elements and the proofs they’ve teased look incredible!
Last month I pre-ordered the Divine Feminine tarot deck from Cocorrina, which should ship in January 2021, I believe. I opted for the gold on black version. I’ve been following Corina’s work on Instagram for a while now and love her distinct style. I also have her Rune deck, which I’ll share in my oracle card roundup soon.
Do you have a favorite tarot deck? Leave a comment below!