The Tarot deck is possibly one of the most recognizable divination tools on the planet. Four suits and 22 trumps, known as the Major Arcana, bring together 78 cards that answer questions about life and its direction.
The Tarot first appeared in the 15th century and was actually used for a variety of card games, some of which are still played today in parts of the world. It was in the English speaking countries, primarily, that the Tarot became known for its divinatory uses. Its reputation has endured and millions of people each year seek out card readers for a illuminated glimpses into their life path.
There are artists today who have devoted their lives to the development of new Tarot imagery inspired by the meanings within the cards and there are literally thousands of decks available for purchase. They make lovely gifts for those interested in the occult or who want to begin learning to read. I’ve waded through the many decks and chosen those with the most striking imagery that should be at the top of your list!
#1 The Rider-Waite Deck
There’s a reason why this is the go to deck for many beginners. Simple, elegant imagery by Pamela Colman Smith filled with elegant symbolism, the Rider-Waite deck was first published in England in 1910 by the Rider Company and quickly became the gold standard among card readers. The deck toned down some of the formerly Christian imagery and took on a more ceremonial magick tone. You can purchase the deck here.
#2 The Wild Unknown Tarot
I have to admit, I’d never seen this deck before putting this list together, but the most amazing thing happened when I started looking through the card images. I could not pull myself away. I sat and stared at each image transfixed by drawings that seemed so simple at first. The simplicity is deceptive, however. Kim Krans, the artist behind the deck, took humans completely out of the mix and created a deck that is filled with images from the natural world. Turtles, deer, owls, etc. adorn the cards and invite the reader to view classic symbols in a completely different light. That wasn’t the only change. Rather than the traditional King, Queen, Knight, and Page court cards, Krans changed the symbols to Father, Mother, Son, and Daughter, creating a new archetypal attachment to those cards. Order your copy of The Wild Unknown Tarot and be sure to visit Krans’ website for more insights into her amazing creations.
#3 Chrysalis Tarot
There are only two words to describe this deck. “Dynamic” and “Mythic”. Bold colors and brand new suits fill this exciting deck from metaphysician Toney Brooks with artwork by Holly Sierra. Each turn of the cards is a wonder of fairy tale like imagery that takes you on a brand new journey through an age old tool. I highly recommend this beautiful deck for experienced readers who are seeking an exciting new fork in the road. Order a copy today for your favorite tarot reader!
#4 Penny Dreadful Tarot Deck
Inspired by the deck used by Vanessa Ives on the Showtime series “Penny Dreadful”, this is an excellent deck with simple images on a stunning purple background. This one is perfect for fans of the show who also enjoy reading the Tarot. Journey into the Demimonde with the Penny Dreadful Tarot.
#5 Archangel Power Tarot Deck
The name Doreen Virtue has become synonymous with working with Angels in the real world. When most people think of angels, they envision wings and clouds and halos, but angelic lore encompasses so much more and is beholden to no particular religion or creed. Virtue, with artist Radleigh Valentine, has created a deck that delves into some of these mysteries. Replacing the traditional suits with the names of four of the seven archangels, the deck is stunning in its use of color and imagery. The who believe in the Angelic realm with cherish these beautiful cards and the answers they offer.
#6 Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan
There are several decks that go by the name of Witches Tarot, but Ellen Dugan’s is superior by a fair amount. Dugan uses traditional suits and trumps with a pagan/witch spin that makes them perfect for card readers who also follow a variety of pagan paths. The deck features striking imagery and bold coloring that readers will enjoy and will capture the imagination of those who seek readings. In addition to traditional reading methods, the accompanying books gives insights into how to incorporate the cards into spell casting. Check out the deck and pick up a copy today. You won’t be disappointed!
#7 The Steampunk Tarot
Steampunk seems to have slipped into every corner of modern society and the tarot is no exception. The romance and ingenuity of the Victorian era crashes into science fiction and alchemy to create a deck that is both unique and beautiful. The Steampunk Tarot was created by Barbara Moore with artist Aly Fell using traditional suits and trumps with iconoclastic images. The cards have a gilded appearance with all the over the top style we’ve come to expect from the steampunk movement. This deck is perfect for readers who hire out for special events throughout the year! The deck is available on Amazon.com.
#8 Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot
Based on the Rider-Waite deck, Llewellyn’s Classic Tarot was created by Barbara Moore with images by Eugene Smith. It was released by Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing. The colors are more bold than the RW and Moor and Smith manage to breathe new life into its historic tradition. Each card beautifully tells a story, illustrating stops along the life path. Take a look at the deck here and pick up your own copy.
#9 The Celtic Dragon Tarot
D.J. Conway and artist Lisa Hunt bring to life a detailed and stunning Tarot deck dedicated to that most elusive and mysterious creature, the dragon! This is a deck as dynamic and varied as its source material. You won’t be able to take your eyes off them as you delve deeper into each image. Get your copy here!
#10 Shadowscapes Tarot
Pastel watercolors and various cultural influences blend together to create this stunning deck from artist Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and author Barbara Moore. The entire deck exudes an ethereal quality that one does not often see in the tarot. It sparks the imagination and draws you into new stories from a traditional tool. Mermaids and fairies and a host of other images adorn each card. It’s a lovely deck that will make a perfect gift this season. For more information, click here and place your order for this delightful divination tool.