July 13, 2024
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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.

Philip Young, PhD, our current reviewer, started as a professional tarot and oracle card reader in 1992. He now offers paid readings. 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, Philip assesses card quality and size. He examines the visual accessibility of the art and the quality of the deck’s companion text. Additionally, he evaluates each deck’s potential usefulness in professional practice.

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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.


The Rating System of the Tarot Decks:

  • 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 for professional readings, this deck adds variety to collections, yet might not suit personal use if reviews highlight art/design/content flaws. It’s collectible for those seeking diversity. However, consider its potential weaknesses before choosing it as your personal deck.

Reviewed Tarot Decks

More Tarot Decks Reviewed available here

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. Many beginners receive or buy the Rider-Waite Tarot, a complex deck demanding extensive study. It represents 14th to 15th century Europe, requiring historical understanding. Created in early 20th century United States, its intricacies challenge newcomers. Years of dedication are essential to master this deck and its era.

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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 deck adheres to ‘classical’ tarot concepts. Meanwhile, others retain the traditional 78-card structure, with 4 suits and 22 major arcana cards. However, they modernize both imagery and concepts.

Comparing Tarot Decks

Wildwood Tarot

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 serves as an ideal starter deck, offering visually accessible concepts through its imagery. Additionally, it features helpful keywords on each card. 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:

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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) number.


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’re drawn to dragons, fairies, or vampires, rest assured, a suitable deck awaits you. Similarly, fans of Greek or Egyptian mythology, anime, and superheroes will find decks aligned with their interests. Whether it’s video games, Native American spirituality, animals, or steampunk, there’s a deck that matches every artistic style.

Once you have found your deck, visit our Tarot Reading 101 section and get the basics needed to get started reading tarot/oracle cards.