Tarot Deck Review Process
Tarot and Oracle Decks have exploded into the common experience since the 1990s. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks and newly published ones. AskAstrology wants to help you find the perfect deck or decks for you by reviewing a different tarot and oracle deck each month.
Our current reviewer, Philip Young, PhD, is a professional tarot and oracle card reader, who began reading cards for payment in 1992. Since then he has read cards for thousands of people, in person and at a distance, in the United States and around the world. He also has a large personal collection of tarot and oracle decks, letting clients select from his many decks to do readings for them.
He has been writing tarot and oracle deck reviews for AskAstrology since March of 2019. As a professional reader and reviewer, he considers the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice when making his evaluations.
If you are looking for a deck to read for yourself, others, or to add to a collection, then you should check out our reviews. The reviews include sample images from the card decks, so you can see if the cards “speak” to you or not.
If you are looking for a deck to buy and use, please read the AskAstrology section on How to Choose Your Tarot Deck that follows the list of deck reviews below.
Featured This Month!
The deck reviewed this month is Linestrider Tarot by Siolo Thompson. From the publisher:
Spun with soft strokes of vibrant color and intricate detail, The Linestrider Tarot features gentle yet evocative images that dance on the edge between magic and logic. With grace and innovation, Siolo Thompson’s captivating minimalist art will enhance your readings in powerful and profound ways.
Linestriding is about walking in two worlds—one foot in each to discover guidance. Drawing inspiration from the edge while still moving forward on the Fool’s journey, this Rider-Waite-Smith-based deck helps uncover the answers you seek about health, love, career, and much more.
Read the full review!
The Rating System:
- 5 out of 5 stars – either a must own deck for a collector or a great deck for personal and professional reading. Excellent visual accessibility, well-written companion book, high quality card stock, and easy to handle (size wise).
- 4 out of 5 stars – something less than excellent in one category, such as no companion book (just a booklet) or poor card stock/hard to handle, but otherwise excellent in the remaining categories. Worth owning as a professional reader, collector, or for personal readings.
- 3 out of 5 stars – something less than excellent in two categories, such as limited visual accessibility and poor card stock or good, but not great artwork and hard to shuffle/handle. Okay deck for professional readings, collectible if you want variety in your collection, but not the best for a personal deck if the problem in the review addresses weaknesses in the art/design/content.
Reviewed Tarot Decks (alphabetical order and review rating)
- Animal Totem Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 1/21/2021) – 5 out 5 stars
- Crow’s Magic Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 1/30/2020) – 3 out 5 stars
- Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 11/29/2019) – 5 out of 5 stars
- The Halloween Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 10/29/2019) – 3 out 5 stars
- Law of Attraction Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 6/27/2019) – 5 out 5 stars
- Linestrider Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 3/31/2020) – 4 out of 5 stars
- Lover’s Path Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 9/27/2019) – 4 out of 5 stars
- Madame Endora’s Fortune Telling Deck (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 3/3/2020) – 5 out of 5 stars
- Messenger Oracle (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 7/30/2019) – 5 out 5 stars
- Mythic Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 4/2/2019) – 4 out of 5 stars
- Osho Zen Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 3/5/2019) – 5 out of 5 stars
- Ostara Tarot (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 4/30/2019) – 4 out of 5 stars
- Voyager Tarot (reviewed by Frank Kwiatkowski on 5/9/2019) – 4 out of 5 stars
- Wildwood Tarot (reviewed 8/29/2019) – 5 out of 5 stars
- Wisdom of the Hidden Realms Oracle (reviewed by Philip Young, PhD on 11/29/2020) – 5 out of 5 stars
- Wisdom of the House of Night Oracle (reviewed 6/3/2019) – 4 out of 5 stars
Tarot Book Reviews
How to Choose Your Tarot Deck?
Tarot cards, and more recently, oracle cards are outstanding tools for psychological and spiritual work. If you want to learn tarot, then you should buy your own deck and choose a deck you want to learn. There are thousands of decks available. Unfortunately, many people, starting out, whether they were given a deck or bought a deck, usually get the Rider-Waite Tarot which is an especially complex deck requiring years of study, not only of the deck, but the historical period it represents (14th to 15th century Europe) and in which it was created (early 20th century United States).
Select a Visually Accessible Deck (with Keywords as a Bonus)
AskAstrology recommends selecting a tarot deck that is visually accessible. If it has keywords on the cards, even better. The deck may not be the final deck you work with it, but it will be a much better starter deck if you can look at the card and glean the meaning visually, right off the bat.
Below are some sample cards from some visually accessible decks. One aligns with “classical” tarot concepts and others keep the tarot card structure (78 cards, 4 suits, 22 major arcana cards), but modernize the imagery and concepts.
Comparing Tarot Decks
The Wildwood Tarot is a Celtic, earth-based (Druidic) style tarot that makes an excellent starter deck as well as a professional-use deck. Take a look at the cards:
As you can see, each card from the 4 suits has a keyword associated with that card. Also, in keeping with the Druidic/Celtic/Earth theme, the traditional items representing the suits (cups, swords, wands, and pentacles) have been replaced with vessels, arrows, bows, and stones. The major cards have also been renamed. In the example above, the Journey is more commonly known in traditional decks as Death.
Osho Zen Tarot
The Osho Zen Tarot is a fantastic “starter” deck because the imagery is about as visually accessible as one can make concepts, and it has the keywords on the cards as well. Based on the eastern life philosophy of Zen Buddhism, this deck is “ready to go” right out of the box. Below are some samples of the cards:
In this deck there are no symbols for the suits; instead, the essential element is presented by a color scheme. The 4 in the gray diamond is the four of air, the one in the red diamond is the 6 of fire. Instead of the king, queen, knight, and page, the Osho Zen deck uses direction, so the queen of pentacles becomes Rainbows to the South. The major arcana cards are distinguished by a purple diamond and Roman (rather than ordinal) numbers.
The Gilded Tarot Classical Imagery and Symbols (Reimagined)
The Gilded Tarot is a beautifully rendered deck with vibrant color and a clear nod to the designs found in the Rider-Waite Tarot. Less accessible visually and concept-wise than the two decks above, but still more inviting to the modern artistic sensibilities. The Gilded Tarot is a fine deck to study and learn tarot with, as a bonus it comes with a very nice companion book.
This deck uses all the traditional icons and concepts, but modernizes them through dynamic fantasy-style artwork enhanced by computer “magic”. If you look at the cards from the two decks above, you will see how different the same card is from one deck to the other.
Pick a Deck that “Catches” YOUR Eye!
Interest drives the learning process. If your interest is high, your chances of learning are much greater than if it is low and you have to “force” yourself to be interested. If you have an interest in dragons, fairies, vampires, Greek mythology, Egyptian mythology, anime, superheroes, video games, Native American spirituality, animals, steampunk, or any number of artistic styles, then there is a deck out there for you!
Once you have found your deck, visit our Tarot Reading 101 section and get the basics needed to get started reading tarot/oracle cards.
Philip Young, PhD, is a spiritual adviser located in Cary, North Carolina. He provides spiritual guidance using different tools: astrology, tarot/oracle cards, numerology, and past life regression (using muscle testing).