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If you’re a strict “tarot purist” who insists on doing everything by the book, then I suggest that you quit reading now. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a purist, but to me, it’s only a single card in a much larger and more all-inclusive deck. 

I am someone who’s been traveling the road long enough to know the lay of the landscape. I learned to read when I was 14. I read “intuitively,” letting the individual cards speak to form a larger story. In “expert” books, some cards mean other things than what I take them to mean, and for me, meanings are fluid, not etched in stone. While my style has evolved, and there are certain conventions to which I still adhere, there others that did not serve me that I chose to let go—but that doesn’t mean they’re not right for someone else, just not me.

Maybe that’s why I believe that of all the spiritual tools we use to help us divine our destinies and reveal our inner truths, the tarot is, in many ways, the most personal. Unlike the signs of the zodiac—which choose us instead of the other way around—or the I Ching and Runes, which are fixed in interpretation and random in ways over which we have no control, the tarot is something we can customize to suit our individual taste, personality, and beliefs.


Listen to the Music

First off, there’s an absolutely mind-boggling array of tarot decks to choose from—everything from the classic Rider-Waite (and all its various iterations) to the Egyptian tarot, angel tarot, druid, goddess, erotic, animal spirit, voodoo, and even one that’s Jane Austen-based . And that’s a good thing, since sourcing a compatible deck is a lot like tuning into your favorite radio station: Some people like jazz. Some people like classic. Some prefer contemporary, punk, or country, while others would rather listen to new age or experimental. Music speaks to something unique in each person’s psyche, and tarot cards strike a similar chord. The trick to finding the one with which you have the closest affinity is to listen to what the cards tell you, but more than that, not just what they’re saying, but the way they’re saying it.  

So, if you’re going to be shopping for a deck for yourself, if at all possible, I suggest that you find a brick-and-mortar store that has sample decks for you to peruse because it’s my experience that actually holding the cards in your hands and viewing the images in person to see if they truly resonate with you gives you the best feel for whether or not you and the deck are truly meant for each other. 

Think of it like online dating: Someone can seem “perfect” at the other end of a touch screen, but in person, other factors—like pheromones, nervous habits, or adorable ones, and other clues to someone’s true personality—come into play. And those are the variables that often matter the most.

It’s Got to be Mutual 

Ultimately, the Tarot deck you choose should make you feel comfortable, safe, and inspired, because after the “first date,” you’re going to want to build a long-lasting relationship. Your tarot deck will become a confidante and a guide. If you let it, the tarot will ultimately tell you the truth, but the truth isn’t always going to be pretty, and there’s nothing worse than baring your soul to someone you can’t really communicate with.  Hearing the truth from someone who talks over, at, or anything other than to you, is a waste of time and effort.

If you can’t “meet up” with your prospective deck in person, try to find a site that lets you look at all of the cards in a given deck before you make your selection. (Some classic decks that have lovely interpretations of the Major Arcana still use numbered cards that resemble a poker deck to represent the lesser cards, which can be frustrating if you were hoping to use an interpretive style of reading.) 

Each card has its own story to tell, if you’re receptive to hearing it. And depending on the cards that surround it, that story changes to form an infinite combination of new interpretations. 

So, think of the tarot deck not only as music, but as if it were a book. Pick it up and sample a chapter or two. If you’re bored, confused, or just not interested, put it back on the shelf.  When you find something you just don’t want to put down? That’s the deck for you. (Personally, I use a very old Rider-Waite deck that once belonged to my grandmother. It came with a lot of baggage attached, and there were some things that needed to be settled before we found harmony, but that’s a story for another time.)

The Road Before You

Singling out a deck that speaks your language is only the first step in personalizing the tarot experience:  You can also pick and choose which spread is most relevant to the issue at hand; decide what will be the basis—a particular question, or something more open-ended—for any given reading, and even single out the one image you think best symbolizes yourself (“the significator”) to use as the core card of many spreads and readings. Next time, we’ll look into some other parts of this fascinating journey. 

Getting the right Tarot reading is crucial to understanding it. If you’re interested in seeing what the Tarot can do for you, and in unlocking its mysteries for your life, contact an advisor through KEEN today.