Tarot with Holly: Let’s Talk about Decks, Bay-bee!

by Holly on April 12



This week I was alerted to a new novelty Tarot deck, one full of rainbows, and furry animals, and lots and lots of neon. While I love a bit of twee in my world, all the fuzzy-wuzzy colour-burst going on in this deck kind of makes my eyeballs hurt. Then again, I’m Australian, so this Lisa Frank set of the 22 Major Arcana created by artist Ariel Hart doesn’t speak to my inner 90s tween like it might to you lovely North Americans. Having said that, the images can be printed at home, free, for your own fun and amusement, which is pretty cool.

It’s also a great example of the diverse array of decks out there; there’s pretty much something for everyone, and while I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Tarot (Rider-Waite, all the way), variety can never be a bad thing.

For the Beginner or the Traditionalist: Rider-Waite/Rider-Waite-Smith

Published in 1910, Rider-Waite continues to be one of the most popular decks. Most tarot readers will have started out using this deck. Pamela Colman Smith’s illustrations are simple, but they contain a great deal of detail and symbolism that makes interpreting the cards and understanding their meanings relatively easy for the beginner, and holding their place as the trusty go-to for the more experienced reader. They have been published in three editions, and are available in small and large sizes.

For the Feminists: Mother Peace

Sigh. Doesn’t the name itself just make you feel all nurtured and warm? I’ve mentioned before that these are second in line to my trusty Rider-Waite. Aptly, I discovered them via my mother. I think she showed them to me once or twice as a kid, and then, perhaps once or twice after that, I rediscovered them myself while peeking through her antique dresser drawers. She kept precious, pretty things in those dresser drawers: long white vintage gloves with three pearl buttons on each cuff, a black vintage purse with gold clasp, adult jewelry, and the Mother Peace wrapped in a blue silk scarf.

Just like a comfy, safe womb, these cards are round; the images simple and full of colour. Created in 1978 by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, the cards portray goddesses from all around the world, sourcing iconography from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Still a popular deck, The Mother Peace continues to be in distribution and is easy enough to source. I find the cards harder to intuit, personally, but that might be because I’m less familiar with the symbolism of some of the cards. Still, I think The Mother Peace is a very special deck, especially when seeking some feminine wisdom.

For the Artist, Fashionista or Collector: The Wild Unknown

Unfortunately, I don’t own The Wild Unknown Tarot, so I can’t shed any light on what they are like to work with; however, I think they are worth mentioning as a hugely popular modern deck of tarot cards. So popular are they, even among the not-tarot inclined, that people have even been inking the artist’s images on their bodies. Created by a Portland based artist, Kim Krans, the designs are minimalistic but exquisitely drawn. Another interesting point to note is that they don’t contain any people or figurative illustrations. Instead, you will see lots of interesting creatures, and nature-based themes. I really want to get my hands on a pack of these cards. The final inventory of the current edition will be available from the website until 18 August, so if you’d like a pack as much as I do, better get on it!

For the Experienced Reader or Those Who Like a Challenge: The Thoth

The Thoth Tarot is considered another classic deck of cards. It was first published in 1969; however, it was created by Aleister Crowley and painted by Lady Frieda Harris back in 1938, taking them five years to complete. It is very detailed and quite complex, so I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners, but it is certainly an interesting deck with a lot of history. It’s a particular goodie for those who are into the occult and who want something truly comprehensive.

There you have it, folks: some of the more popular decks out there to choose from. Let us know in the comments about your own experiences with any of these, or of any recommendations of your own.

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Holly is a social worker, writer and social justice advocate. She became interested in personal development in her early 20s when she stumbled across a web forum where she met members of the Spiraling Up crew. Holly is interested in psychology, spirituality and astrology. She currently resides in Victoria, Australia where she works full-time as a support worker and plays with spoken word and written poetry.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Sue Rawlinson April 12, 2016 at 4:25 pm

Interesting article, Holly. These articles certainly prompt me to think about the Tarot again as an intuitive tool and fun toy.


Monique Mitchell April 12, 2016 at 9:51 pm

Well written article Holly! Love the title 🙂 You’re great with your puns. I’ve only ever had a tarot card reading done once but reading this motivates me to learn more about it and gain a deeper understanding.


Di April 13, 2016 at 12:30 am

Great article Holly! Loving your writings on the Tarot. In fact I always look forward to your contributions which are so much fun and informative too.


Jules Dixon April 13, 2016 at 9:40 am

I’m a rainbows and butterflies kind of girl, so this made me very happy. Just had my first reading this year, and it was crazy insightful. Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful day!


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