Somewhere over the last decade-ish, I became a casual-to-mildly-obsessive tarot collector. Here are all of the decks I have in my modest collection to date. 🙂 For fun, I’m putting an * beside my best beloved decks.
These are decks that use the basic system of tarot made famous by the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (RWS). That’s the one in all the movies. The RWS deck I use and strongly recommend is the Universal Waite*. Here’s what it looks like:
The cards shown above are The Fool, The Magician, The World, the Ace of Cups, and the Page of Wands. I’ll display these card equivalents for most of the RWS decks I add here, so you can compare them all and see just how differently individual tarot decks can interpret the same basic ideas.
Badgers Forest Tarot by Nakisha Elsje VanderHoeven. This is a really adorable deck, very pure, with minimal imagery. The traditional suits are represented by rabbits (wands), foxes (cups), crows (swords), and badgers (pentacles).
The Blood Moon Tarot by Sam Guay. I’m a sucker for dark fantasy imagery and gorgeous illustrations. I actually ordered this deck via the kickstarter, a while before the pandemic hit, but it didn’t arrive until spring 2021, so finally getting it at last felt like a really unexpected, luscious present. This is definitely a deck that stands out for its interpretation of the minors, especially the swords (dreams).
The Brady Tarot by Emi Brady *. I said I wasn’t going to get another animal deck but this stunner seduced me over time. This is one of my favorite tarot decks; I think it’s one of the most complex and imaginative and fully realized and well-executed decks around (including the fact that the guidebook is written by veteran tarot expert Rachel Pollock), and because I think these 5 cards just don’t do it justice, I’m tossing in a few more:
Celestial Stick People by Brian Crick * — just the most charming, whimsical tarot deck I’ve ever seen — the color and design are incredible, i’m obsessed with this deck — I think the colors and the design are absolutely fantastic. (Available for purchase here.)
Celtic Dragons: This is a popular deck — it won’t be for everybody, but there’s quite a lot of smart interpretations wrapped up in these dragons!
Dame Darcy’s Mermaid Tarot *. A lovely, vibrant deck with lots of nautical (and of course, mermaid) imagery!
The Dark Mansion Tarot, illustrated by Magdalena Kaczan. Beautifully illustrated whimsical Victoriana, very fun, with lovely detail!
The Tarot ng Daigdig sa Balintataw (“World inside the pupil of the eye”) by Lynyrd-Jim Narciso. This is a very limited-edition deck from 2009; my copy is #79/100. It’s a Major Arcana only deck in a style drawn from Filipino folk art, and as you can see, it’s stunning.
The Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza. Despite its massive popularity, I was never drawn to this deck until I fell in love with its Tarot de Marseilles sibling, the Trionfi Della Luna. It was easy to enjoy the horror-tinged, Venetian carnival-infused fantasy imagery after that. (Available for purchase here.)
The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Farber. out-of-print deck featuring rich pastel colors, detailed imagery, and tapestry-like design. One of my first decks and still one of the most fascinating.
The English Magic Tarot. I’m fascinated by this period of English history and I’m way into this art style, not to mention the uniqueness of the card imagery.
The Everyday Witch Tarot, illustrated by Elizabeth Alba. I really love this popular, optimistic, colorful deck! (As a bonus, Elizabeth, once long ago when we shared a fandom, drew me one of my very first (gorgeous) pieces of fanart, which I still treasure to this day. It’s so nice owning this deck by her now.)
Gay Tarot — a deck very much commemorating a 90s gay male experience, but still one with a lot of depth.
Golden Thread Tarot: a very popular deck, minimalist with beautiful Art Deco designs and gold filigree! Also comes with a popular mobile app that updates daily.
The Haindl Tarot by Hermann Haindl. This is a gorgeous, somber deck with non-traditional imagery and lots of esoteric symbolism.
Hanson-Roberts Tarot by Mary Hanson-Roberts. This is a pocket-sized Rider-Waite clone with softer imagery and lots of pretty colors. A perfect “starter” deck.
The Hermetic Tarot by Mathers (Order of the Golden Dawn): A gorgeous black and white deck based on the Thoth (Crowley) tarot tradition, with rich details, astrological correspondences, and more.
The Illuminated Tarot by Carol Herzer: Dark Crystal Rose edition *. This is a limited variant of a pretty incredible series of hand-colored Rider-Waite-Smith clones by Carol Herzer.
The Instant Archetypes Tarot: This is a new Major Arcana-only deck with oversized cards, based on modern archetypes.
Jonasa Jaus: This is a gorgeous deck by Spanish artist Angela Castrillón, who goes by the stage name Jonasa Jaus and titled her deck after it. It’s bursting with plants and girls and life. <3 (Note: some sources on the internet claim inaccurately this is a TdM deck, however it’s clearly drawing upon Rider-Waite themes.)
Jugendstil Tarot by Jyo-Ji Domon*: This is a stunning art nouveau majors-only deck from Japan. Mine is a 2013 reprint from the original 1986 edition; both are out of print now. (Not 100% on the artist; the studio is Shinshei Shuppan.)
The Lubok / Russian Tarot (illustrated by Eugene Vinitski.) a lovely, rather obscure deck, created by an artist and a filmmaker, based on Russian folk tales. This deck is so colorful and full of personality.
The Monsoon Tarot by Huan Chun Wei. I almost stopped buying tarot decks once the pandemic hit and only picked up a handful of decks over the last several years. This deck kind of jolted me out of my tarot deck malaise once I saw it. It’s by a Taiwanese artist based on Japanese art and art themes, and it’s just a really mesmerising, intuitive deck. Got it as a 2022 christmas gift to myself and I think I’m really going to enjoy it.
Ophidia Rosa Tarot by Nicole Rallis: This is an abstract botanical tarot, black/white//sepia-toned with a smattering of color.
Prisma Visions Tarot (Third edition): yep, it’s that famous deck with the tableaus and the giant terrifying swan. Here are a few of the Major Arcana cards:
The Sabbath Tarot: This is an electrifying queer male erotic dark fantasy tarot by a practicing dark witch! I fell in love with this deck at first sight and it did not disappoint!
Sakki-Sakki Tarot *: This is a fun, abstract deck that’s bursting with color and vibrant weirdness. I got this deck on a whim and have been blown away by how much I love it. It’s intended as an artist’s inspiration deck by its author, who’s an Israeli artist, and it’s probably my favorite tarot deck. <3
Shadowscapes Tarot: this one is extremely popular because it’s absolutely gorgeous, a perfect fantasy deck. I actually followed this deck’s creation nearly 15 years ago, way back on DeviantART. It was amazing to see it become such a hugely influential deck.
Silhouettes Tarot by Masa Kuzuki, 2nd edition, limited edition (95 of 1000): This is a gorgeous out-of-print deck that’s become a hard-to-find cult favorite. I love this deck: the florid abstract imagery, the design, the colors, it’s great. The recently released new edition is very popular! Glad to see this deck and artist getting their due.
Slow Holler Tarot: This is an out-of-print, limited-edition, multi-artist queer Southern Gothic tarot. Speaks for itself, really.
Spirit-Keeper’s Tarot, Vitruvian Edition, by Benebell Wen
Like everyone else I fell in love with this stunning sepia-toned deck at first sight, but I was surprised, once I finally got my hands on a copy (finally!), by how intuitive I found all the card interpretations. This is a deck based on the Hermetic Tarot that draws heavily from other eclectic traditions, so I was intimidated by it, but it’s actually really fluid and easy to grasp once you spend time with it! I especially really appreciate how Wen has categorized all of the court cards — their meanings are so clear and distinctive.
Spooky Cat Tarot by Ashley Doza.
This lovely fun deck was crowdfunded, and all of the cats featured are portraits of actual cats, living and dead, memorialized by their owners who chipped in for the deck. It’s the sweetest. I swapped out the “World” card in this display for the Hermit card, just because I love it so much.
Swietlistej Drogi (Radiant Light) Tarot *. This is a haunting Polish deck with stunning, thoughtful imagery and amazing design. I’m so fond of this deck. The card stock is a printing of what I think are mixed-media paintings done in part using wax crayons and etchings. (Tarot Garden backs me up on this, so that seems to be the case.) Do click the linked page for more views of this deck; the photos really don’t do it justice.
Tarocchi di Dario Fo, a rare abstract deck created and illustrated by the Nobel-winning Italian playwright. Vivid and racy and fun, feels very archetypal and yet slice-of-life at once.
The Tarot of the Boroughs: a quirky, cheeky local deck pretty much just sold here in NYC:
The Tarot of the Divine by Yoshi Yoshitani. I had actually been following this artist’s Instagram account where she’d been sharing her progress towards making this deck, so when she finally, after several years, announced a Kickstarter for the full deck, I immediately backed it — a lucky thing because this deck was in so much demand the Kickstarter quickly maxed out. And it’s easy to see why — this is a stunning multicultural deck inspired by folklore and mythology from around the world. Just captivating and lovely.
True Black Tarot. This wildly popular new deck is out of control, it’s clearly made from black velvet and actual magic.
The Tyldwick Tarot by Neil Lovell. This is a dreamy, 19th-century-styled collage deck, tinged with fantasy and surrealism, which is nearly out of circulation due to the recent death of its creator, Neil Lovell, the founder of the Malpertuis Designs studio. This is a deeply introspective deck that’s so gorgeous it almost has to be seen to be believed; I’m a bit shocked to have gotten my hands on a copy. (More Malpertuis decks below.)
Marseille decks and pip decks
Tarot de Marseille (TdM) is a very old tradition of tarot that predates the RWS system by several centuries. TdM has very distinct iconography and a traditional pattern for presenting and designing images that all TdM decks usually still follow today. The Marseille system of tarot shares shares the Major Arcana with the Rider-Waite, but the Minor Arcana relies more on numerology (my jam!) and individual interpretation. The numbered suit cards are usually patterns or pips rather than individual illustrations. Lots of RWS decks are also pip decks; I’m including mine below.
Ancient Minchiate Etruria Tarot, a.k.a. the Minchiate Fiorentine Tarot. This is a rare out-of-print 1996 deck that’s a replica of a 1725 deck. This deck is a unique tarot system that combines the basic TdM pattern with extra elemental & zodiac cards.
BruT by Uusi — This is a fetching minimalist, brutalist pip deck with playing card design for the minor arcana. Plus it comes with a tableau!
La Corte dei Tarocchi, an unusually tall! limited edition deck created in 1999 from hand-etched zinc printing and watercoloring, and based on medieval Italian iconography and court culture. This elegant deck is a cult favorite and it’s easy to see why.
Claude Burdel Marseille Tarot (replica deck from 1751). This is a carefully crafted facsimile TdM deck by Yves Reynaud of a famed 18th-c. Swiss deck known for its quirky iconography and sumptuous color palette.
Claude Rochias (1754) — This is a 2015 limited edition by Yves Reynaud, a facsimile of a lovely 18th-c. Swiss Tarot de Marseille deck. As you can see, it’s very similar to the Burdel, but the colors are even more vivid.
The Grimaud Tarot de Marseilles, c. 1931 *: Is this maybe the most amazing deck I own? Quite possibly! This deck, also known as The Ancien Tarot de Marseille, single-handedly created a demand for TdM decks when it was first published in 1930. It was created by Paul Marteau after an 18th-century Marseilles deck by Nicolas Conver, and published by the French publisher B.P. Grimaud. This became a wildly popular deck that was published in numerous variants over the years until the decks that were released in the ’50s and ’60s became the basis for the decks that are still sold today.
And I know all of this because I became obsessed with this deck about a year ago, specifically the older decks that originate from France, which have brighter and imo much more stunning colors than their modern counterparts. So I spent months trying to get my hands on a deck variant from the ’30s or ’40s, and finally lucked out with this amazing, perfect antique deck most likely published in 1931, making it a second edition of the “tulip Grimaud.” I was only able to afford it because some lovely French-Canadian lady wrote keywords on the cards in pencil that you can still see if you look close! I love her. <3 Also! You can tell it’s one of the original French decks because the Ace of Pentacles has a French shipping tax stamp that was discontinued after like 1945. I love this deck so much. Please enjoy how stunning these colors are.
The Hirajeta Deck: This is a dark, gorgeous Japanese-influenced deck with a touch of horror. I love this deck a lot.
The Kinner Tarot, by R.J. Kinner. After the Golden Thread tarot, the True Black tarot, and the Swietlistej tarot, I swore to myself: no more black and gold tarot decks. If you’ve been paying attention to tarot trends, you’ll have noticed the last few years has seen a huge surge in black-and-gold decks based on the popularity of the Golden Thread, so believe me when I say this was a hard resolution to follow! But I finally broke my rule for this deck: A fully hand-illustrated pen-and-ink deck printed on matte cardstock. I actually do wish the card stock were a little sturdier, but that’s my only quibble with this stunning deck. I’ve included extra images just because there are so many good things hidden here. It’s also very much a pip deck even though (like the Hirajeta) the minor cards often have themes in common with the RWS minors.
The Musterberg Tarot, 2nd edition *: This is a sumptuous limited-edition Marseille deck made to resemble 18th-c. deck variants and drawn from a fantasy world of carnival schemers called Pennyland, invented by the design studio just for this. I love this deck so much!!!
The Sola Busca tarot, Lo Scarabeo limited museum edition. This famous Italian deck (named after the family that owned it when it was discovered) is generally considered to be the oldest pre-tarot deck — that is, the oldest known deck to unite the traditional 56-card suite with a set of trump cards. Most of the trump cards are based on archetypal Roman kings, and thus diverge from the tarot as we know it, but there are a few surprising moments of symmetry. And the deck overall is just stunning in its boldly colored weirdness.
The Tarot De Louttre B *. This is one of my holy grail decks! It was published for the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in 1981 by french card publishers Grimaud-Ducale, as part of a special minimalist art exhibit.
Le Tarot Noir: This is an illusive but well-liked TdM deck, very large, beautifully detailed cards, with a macabre humor that aligns it spiritually to me with the Deviant Moon and Trionfi della Luna decks. Ah, I love these colors.
The Tarot of the III Millennium!! This legendarily weird deck was described by the publisher, Lo Scarabeo, as “Perhaps one of the most unusual decks of all time.” I have been fascinated by it for a while and randomly scooped it up for a relative song on ebay. The trumps are hand-drawn, the suits have insets from the Tarot de Bologna, an 18th-c. Italian Marseilles deck, and there are random urls (to dead links) scrawled randomly over the art. It’s so much weirder in person than I was prepared for, and I honestly have no idea how to read with it (or even whether this should really be classified as a Marseilles deck or not), but I’m eager to figure it out!
Trionfi della Luna, 2nd edition * — this is the Tarot de Marseille deck from the creators of the famed Deviant Moon tarot. This deck is just incredibly beautiful, and I’m including a few more cards so you can get a feel for how it plays with the traditional TdM imagery as well as the artistic style of the Deviant Moon.
The Trionfi della Luna also comes with its own set of extra trump cards that display horizontally!
Non-traditional decks, Lenormand, and oracle decks:
There are lots of modern oracle decks that completely forego traditional tarot imagery and design and do their own thing. The Lenormand is another traditional system, but it’s entirely designed for fortune-telling.
Alternate Realities Lenormand *: Lenormand decks are not tarot. They’re fortune-telling cards with very clear imagery, meant to be combined together to predict your future. (Which of course is impossible because fortune-telling is fake, but these cards are fun to read anyway!) This is a little-known deck, and a love-at-first-sight deck for me..
Classic Crime Lenormand * by Malpertuis. This is a rare deck by the fabulous Malpertuis Design studio that was never even made available to the public. It’s based on vintage Penguin detective novels, with their classic Penguin-green-and-orange color palette, and their clever titles (with hints in the author names for the card identity.) I made a Google doc for this very special deck, if you’d like to see more photos!
The Anthony Apesos Tarot. The artist designed this abstract, nature-themed deck to be intuitive/imaginative. Though it’s styled as a tarot, its non-traditional labeling makes it far more suitable for use as an oracle deck, at least for me!
The Arthur Rackham Oracle, 1st edition. A very popular recent deck based on the art of British book illustrator Arthur Rackham! Here are some extra cards so you can see the various moods of this deck.
Cosmos Tarot / Oracle deck — this is a gorgeous multi-artist tarot deck with oracle. The card meanings in this deck are usually original and rarely aligned with traditional tarot.
The Daemon Tarot. I’ve had this deck for a while but considered it more like a set of trading cards (even though the demons have been assigned divinatory meanings). But many people use it as an oracle deck, so why not?
Morgan’s Tarot. This is a non-traditional deck that was made as a joke in the 70s but gained a cult following!
Healers of the Earth Oracle *. I really love these card assignments, and the images (though taken from stock illos) are lovely. This is a 73-card deck; I’m including extra cards here so you can get an idea of the tone!
The Minotarot *. My tarot holy grail. This is an incredibly rare French deck (published in 1982) that can be laid out as a traditional tarot spread, as a choose-your-own-adventure, or as an alternate tableau that tells an erotic narrative of Theseus and the Minotaur. It’s a bit more special than my other decks, so it gets its own special Google doc.
The Old Arabian Lenormand. This is a stunning Lenormand collage deck from the Malpertuis Design studio, and I am so lucky to have gotten my hands on one of the few remaining copies. The edges of the cards blend together to form a subtle tableau; I can’t get over this deck.
The Silson Lenormand. This is the third Malpertuis Lenormand deck I was so lucky to come by, and just like the others this fanciful Medieval-styled deck is unique, mesmerizing, and beautiful.
Tarot of Shadows — this is a distinct tarot system ostensibly based on evil, lolol, but really it’s more of a somewhat gentle oracle deck. Comes with an incredibly detailed and thorough guidebook.
Recently purchased decks (need to add):
none at the moment! 🎉
5 Cent Tarot by Madam Clara, got delivered to the wrong address 🙁
Tarocco della Felicita, one of my holy grail decks, which got stolen or lost en route to delivery, I will mourn this deck forever