Are you interested in learning the tarot but confused by the amount of decks available? Perhaps you have read or heard somewhere that the Rider Waite (aka Smith Waite) tarot deck is the deck for beginners but you can’t seem to connect with the images…? The reason why the Rider Waite comes so highly recommended is that most beginners’ books are based on it. But there are many other tarot decks for beginners to choose from!
Here is a list of links to reviews of decks with clear symbology and illustrated number cards (pips) that will work just as well as the Smith Waite and hopefully you will find one that you resonate with.
I actually recommend starting with TWO decks, the Rider Waite Smith Tarot and whichever deck you happen to be drawn to. The thing is, you read with your soul, not your head, so there has to be a strong emotional connection. Plus you will be able to do comparative daily draws and small readings for yourself straight away, which will greatly speed up your learning curve.
Top 11 Tarot Decks for Beginners
Crystal Visions Tarot – a beautiful and rather feminine fantasy type deck
The Morgan Greer Tarot – very like the Smith Waite but very funky 70’s and close-ups. I still crush badly on this deck, being a 70’s child
The Hanson Roberts Tarot – also close-ups but softer than the Morgan Greer, child friendly
The Connolly Tarot – bright colours and Christian overtones
The Anna K Tarot – easy to read with, much thanks to the vivid facial expressions
Smith Waite Tarot – Centennial Edition – an antique feeling Smith Waite version, so much nicer than the standard deck. Comes with the 1910 A.E. Waite ‘Pictorial Key to the Tarot’ which is also available for free online. It is also available in a borderless edition which I highly recommend.
Gilded Tarot – lively colours, beautiful digital artwork, very easy to read with – two sets to choose from, both with excellent companion books for the beginner
The DruidCraft – the perfect beginner deck for the Pagan/Witch/Druid, the companion book is an excellent introduction to the Tarot
Legacy of the Divine Tarot – like the Gilded Tarot, this one is created by Ciro Marchetti. Beautiful black borders that blend into the imagery. Very easy to read with!
Witches Tarot – The perfect beginners deck for anyone on a witchy path or someone who likes a deck with a bit of a fantasy feel to it. This one has some of my favourite court cards of any deck, with very expressive personalities.
Thelema Tarot – A cinematic, medieval Rider Waite Smith clone, beautifully created with CGI. Truly one of my own favourite decks as it reads like a dream.
Which deck did you start with and do you have any other favourite decks to recommend for the Tarot novice? Let us hear all about in the comments below!
My first deck was the Harmonious Tarot, and I still keep it beside my bed. The Mystic Faerie Tarot is another good deck to start with; it was also one of my first.
Yes, they are both lovely decks – thanks Amanda!
If you have a connection to cats, there is a great deck called The Tarot of Pagan Cats and it is amazing in its depiction of all the cards. If I had started out with this deck, instead of the Rider-Waite, I might have gotten the underlying theme of each card better, or faster. So I highly recommend this deck. Lovely article, Lisa….
Thanks for that recommendation. Have you also checked out the Tarot of the White Cats? If not you totally should! It’s true to the RWS interpretations as well and uber cute 🙂
Thank you for sharing your wisdom. <3
My first deck was the Mythic Tarot by Liz Greene, my second was the Thoth, by Crowley/ Frieda Harris. But I guess they wouldn’t be classified as beginner’s tarot decks. Crowley’s is still my favourite deck of all!
I’d love to nominate the Wild Wood for the list, too. It has some really on point names/descriptions for the cards, like Four of Vessels (Cups) being Boredom, Four of Bows (Wands) being Celebration, Three of Stones (Pents) being Creativity, etc.
Yes, it’s a great deck… easy to read with and perfect for anyone on a Pagan path. The only small objection I have is a rather unorthodox take on some of the cards which may confuse people trying to learn with textbooks based on the RWS. The 6 of Pentacles and the 5 of Wands spring to mind.
I got into Tarot because I’d fallen in love with the Visconti-Sforza (a TdM deck). However, when my 15- year old self started showing an interest in the cards the well-meaning people in my life got me the RWS; their logic was that I could grow from there. Despite my protests that I wanted the “original” Tarot (I didn’t know what it was called as I’d just fallen in love with the pictures in an art history book) RWS it was.
I was devastated. I’ve never had a connection with this deck and, despite the fact that I often use it in my profession, I still don’t particularly enjoy it.
I’d suggest that it’s good to listen to the heart of the person who wants to get into Tarot. If they like an RWS clone then by all means get them the RWS and tell them that it will enable them to read any clone. But if they’ve fallen in love with another tradition instead – honour it. It took me a decade before I understood that I could get my own beloved Visconti-Sforza, and I’d be such a better reader had I studied them more than intermittently in that decade of struggle.
Absolutely, I know a few people who started with decks that have non-scenic pips and still love it. To each their own!
Thanks Jenni. Yes those are also good decks. The Inner Child Cards might be tricky for anyone trying to learn from one of the Beginner Tarot Books that use the Waite Smith deck to illustrate the symbology of the Tarot but the book that comes with the deck is excellent in its own right.
Thanks for sharing, Linda. Cool that you met Eden Gray! Nothing strange about being a Christian and a Tarot reader in my book 🙂 Have an amazing New Year! Blessings, Lisa
I've been reading since mid 70s learned with Eden Gray and even met her b4 she died . Forsook Tarot and was very religious in the end.I live in Melbourne FL just north of Vero Bch where she lived. My favorite deck is Morgan Greer and has been for 20yrs or more Go thru deck every year. Mainly read for myself and use only in addition to Bible. Weird but I'm a Christian first and never read without requesting Christ be there. Glad you started following on Tweeter Following you also. Talk to you soon Linda
Thank you. I've been looking for awhile and the crystal visions deck I seem to understand and connect with more than any other deck I have looked into. This was very helpful!
Thanks Cindy. The Legacy would also work well!
Hi Lisa, Cindy here (or @Cynnergies/@FullMoonJacket on Twitter) – 🙂
(apologies if this comes up 2x, I had a blogger sign-in issue…)
Great selection here, especially the Morgan Greer and the DruidCraft decks. I see Ciro's Gilded Tarot here, I was wondering what you thought of his 'Legacy of the Divine' deck? Blessings~~!~~
Hi Lisa, Cindy here from FullMoonJacket 🙂
I do like your choices, particularly the DruidCraft and the Morgan-Greer. And of course Marchetti's Gilded Tarot 🙂 Do you have an opinion of Ciro's Legacy of the Divine as a beginner's deck? Blessings~~!~~
I have the mini Hanson-Roberts – favourite fer sure!
Hanson-Roberts was my first deck 🙂
OK, now I'm curious about which decks you would recommend, Satu 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and commentint!
Thank you. Not the decks I would have recommended (at least not all of them) but it's interesting to see what other people come up with. In any event those are certainly good beginner decks.
You're welcome, Jenny!
Thanks! This is very helpful…