Tarot Decks: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Tarot?
A tarot deck is a set of seventy-eight cards, each featuring different symbolic pictures. A tarot deck is made up of twenty-two cards called the major arcana, and four suits of fourteen cards, the minor arcana.
Tarot is believed to have been created in Italy in the late 14th century, though theories on the origins of tarot differ widely. A tarot deck can be used for divination, meditation, self-improvement, spiritual purposes, card games or as a tool of understanding.
How do I choose a tarot deck?
Look around. Check out a few different types of tarot decks before you choose one. It's best to find one with symbolism and artwork that suits you. If you've never had a tarot deck before, you may prefer a "beginner" deck like the Universal Waite, Robin Wood or Morgan-Greer.
How do I learn to read tarot?
For the beginner I recommend Joan Bunning's book, Learning the Tarot. There are general meanings and keywords for each card, singly and in combination, plus a wide range of tarot information.
Many tarot decks sell with an accompanying book that explains how to use the deck, but if not, there are dozens of generic books on tarot reading available. I personally have used Tarot: Plain & Simple by Anthony Louis and Mary Greer's Tarot for Your Self. For more advanced tarot users, Rachel Pollack's 78 Degrees of Wisdom is excellent.
What's the difference between a Tarot and a divination deck?
A Tarot deck is at least loosely based on the seventy-eight card, major and minor arcana structure. A divination deck is any other deck of cards used for similar purposes, usually meditation or divination as the name suggests.
Why are there so many types of tarot decks?
Different artists interpret the tarot symbols in differing ways, each adding their own perspective. There are also so many themes that can correspond with the tarot system - there are hundreds of decks available, catering to many diverse interests, from baseball to voodoo. It's almost to the point where there's a tarot deck to match every interest or belief.
How can I find a deck that is out of print?
Check out online auction houses like Ebay (but be careful, check your prices before buying), local second hand book stores or New Age stores. Ask around. Leave a message in the aeclectic tarot forums - someone may have a copy they want to pass on.
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