What Makes an Essential Tarot Deck?

Marisa Mohi
6 min readOct 27, 2023

It’s no secret that I have a lot of opinions on tarot cards, and perhaps you find many of them frustrating since they’re all basically a variation of “do whatever works for you.” So, when people ask me for my essential tarot deck recommendation, naturally, it’s not a simple answer.

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For what it’s worth, you shouldn’t take any overly easy answers about tarot. Like pretty much everything you could learn-art, sports, cooking, social skills-tarot and intuition aren’t about what works for other people.

It’s about what works for you.

So, some people feel connections to certain decks. But if they tell you their favorite deck is the best to work with, and then you struggle to use it, that’s going to be an issue.

Firstly, you’ll feel like a failure because you can’t use the deck that was recommended and so perfect according to the person you asked. Secondly, you’ll probably give up and assume you just can’t do tarot.

So, instead of telling you which deck is the essential tarot deck, I’m going to talk about how you can find the essential tarot deck for you that will help you learn tarot reading fast.

What Makes an Essential Tarot Deck?

Can we talk about the tarot elephant in the room first?

Most tarot resources you’re going to find out there use the Smith Rider Waite deck as the true north. That doesn’t mean those cards are the best tarot cards, or that those cards are even the source of truth for many modern tarot decks.

That also doesn’t mean the Smith Rider Waite deck is inherently bad.

As with everything, let’s get nuanced, baby!

The deck was created in the early twentieth century, so the imagery and interpretations can reflect the values of that era. That doesn’t mean your tarot practice has to include those values even if you’re using that deck.

I know plenty of people who think that deck is satanic and evil. I also know plenty of people who don’t like it because it includes a lot of Christian…

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Marisa Mohi

Writer and Tarot Reader. Fueled by black coffee and notebooks with thick paper. https://marisamohi.com