So you’ve finally decided to get your tarot deck, but where do you start to look for them? There are so many options now on the market, and there are so many ways to obtain a deck of your own. It can be a bit overwhelming. In this blog, I want to break down a few different ways you can get your first deck.
The Different Methods:
Years ago when online shopping wasn’t an option for the average person, most people got their first tarot decks in one of two ways:
You can find decks sold in many stores these days. New age stores are some of the most popular places selling decks, but bookstores, grocery stores, and even supermarkets carry them. Keep in mind though, that if you’re looking for a specific deck, you most likely won't find anything but the most popular decks on the physical shelves. You can always call ahead of time to find out what’s in stock. And with some locations, you might be able to ask for them to special order a deck for you, either to your home or to the store for pickup.
Secondhand or Hand-Me-Down
You may find that there are quite a few people who strongly believe a second-hand deck is the best, and only, way you should get your first tarot deck. This is because many believe that intention and energy can be infused into the cards and a previously owned deck has already been broken in and set up with the right energy to allow for easier readings. But not everyone believes this, and many will argue it’s better to buy a brand new deck so that you start with a clean, fresh slate. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference.
As a word of caution to those who do want to have second-hand decks, please be aware that some people don’t always have the best intentions for you. So even if you trust that person, make sure to do some research and learn how to cleanse a deck so that it is magically safe for you. Even if you don’t believe in magic, I still advise caution and preferably, only advise getting decks from people you know and trust. Sold second-hand decks aren’t necessarily bad, but just be careful.
Just like you wouldn’t bring something into your home that could, without a doubt, harm you and your family, you wouldn’t want to bring any tarot deck into your home without first making sure it was clean and safe. You never know if the previous owner had ill intentions with their deck, so it’s just better to be safe rather than sorry.
Even though physical stores and hand-me-downs have been the two prominent ways to get tarot decks, these days, there are several more ways you can use to get a tarot deck.
Nowadays, with online shopping being the most prevalent way people make purchases, many online stores have started to carry a variety of tarot decks. And with time, as tarot has grown in popularity, more and more decks are readily available. There are even some stores that specialize in selling tarot decks and accompanying supplies.
As with any online purchase, make sure to do your research on the seller and the product itself. Look into consumer reviews and company reputation. You don’t want to get ripped off. And though it may be tempting, try to avoid super inexpensive decks, as they may turn out to be a scam or bad quality. A decent tarot deck will usually range between $20-$45 plus whatever shipping fees and taxes. Decks higher in price are usually rarer. They may be hand-made or only sold by that one seller. In some cases, they are older editions of a deck that may or may not still be in print. Whatever you decide to go with, it's worth it to note that even decks on the lower end of the spectrum can withstand the test of time.
To find online tarot deck sellers, a simple browser search will most likely pull up quite a few options for you to choose from. Have fun exploring, but do try to stick with the safe and known options.
This method requires a bit of arts and crafts so if you’re not up for some cutting and gluing, it might not be the best for you.
The greatest thing about the printable method is that you might just luck out and find a free printable deck online. If not, there are a few sellers, on certain sites, that sell premade printable documents for relatively low prices. Once purchased, the digital file will get sent directly to you and you’ll be able to do with it what you will. No shipping fees whatsoever.
It’s worthy to note you will need access to a printer if you intend to turn the digital file into a physical form. You can either print the file out at home or at your local print shop. Most of the time, these printables also come with simple instructions on how to put your cards together once you’ve printed them. If not, a simple search can bring you to some online guides (either videos or creative blogs) that can be of use.
Do know, however, there are a few downsides to paper craftables.
If you’re not super meticulous, your cards might come out slightly uneven. If you’re okay with a slight handmade look then that shouldn’t be too much of an issue. You might not also have the money or resources to get the cards printed on a good quality paper, so keep in mind, that you have to be extra careful about wear and tear and environmental damage. Printed decks might fade or wear down faster. They might be easier to accidentally bend or crease. And with a 78-card deck, you want to make sure the time and effort you put into crafting the deck is worth it in the end. You want to take good care to ensure the deck lasts a long time.
And last, but not least, don’t underestimate how long paper crafts can take, especially if you’ve never attempted them before. Paper crafts require time and precision if you want to final outcome to look nice. So don’t rush it. That is unless you don’t mind a mismatched deck of cards, then by all means go for it. It’s all up to you at the end of the day.
While papercraft printables might be inexpensive, they make up for it in the time you have to invest to turn them into a physical form, so it comes down to what you value more; your time or your money.
But it’s not all bad, in some ways printable tarot requires you to directly be a part of the crafting process. At the end of the day, it might feel worth it if you value handmade things. Your crafted deck will be unique and irreplaceable because as you find, much like the Fool, a craft project is a journey and there are always unique events that will occur. You could never replicate that special experience or journey by just buying a deck outright. You’re putting a part of you into your deck after all. So, in a way, it makes it all the more worth it, if you value a handmade quality in the items you own.
Another super artistic method that will require time and effort would be to hand draw and design your own deck. This method would take much more time than a premade printable, but many might consider this the best way. The final deck will be the most unique and personal to you as the owner and designer in this method.
It may take some extensive research if you want to replicate the basic skeleton of tarot cards and their meanings, so keep that in mind and your deck most likely won’t be ready in a day, let alone a few weeks.
One really unique and cool thing about this method though is that by the time you finished with this project, you will be so intimately familiar with the deck and tarot, that reading it for the first time will be a wonderful and unique experience that you would not get with a premade deck. And the best part is that this method can be entirely free! Depending on the materials and tools you chose to create your deck with, you might already have everything at home!
If hand drawing your own deck sounds too overwhelming, and you don't have the confidence in your art skills, but you still want the uniqueness of a self-made deck, don’t worry. You can always use the next method:
This method works great for the person who has an idea of what they want their deck to look like but don't know how to artistically execute it themselves, or perhaps it can also be for those who are seeking a super unique deck that no one else has made before.
Keep in mind though that you are commissioning an artist, someone who most likely relies on their art for their living. A 78-card commission is like asking someone to create 78 different drawings. Seventy-eight different pictures that they could have worked on with seventy-eight different clients. It’s a lot to ask of someone, and it might be a project that extends for a long time before you get the final product. Think in months or years even. Both the dedicated time, materials, and each commission will be worth something for that person you’re commissioning.
Be prepared for this method to be the most time-consuming and priciest of your options.
Some other things to note might be that you might not find the artist who is willing to take such a commission right away. This would be a major project and many artists might not be willing to take on such a huge project. So get ready to shop around for a while until you find the right artist who is willing to match what you are looking for.
The commissioned artist might not also be able to give you an exact estimate of the price for such a project considering a lot of variables might fluctuate the price as time goes on. You can ask for an estimate, but make sure you are very clear with your budget to the artist so they can decide if this sort of commission is worth it for them on their end. And make sure you are prepared just in case something happens that requires an upcharge in price.
Do your research and ask all the questions you have to make sure you’re prepared to commit to this sort of thing. Otherwise, getting a commission could be an exciting and great thing. It would be a unique and great way for you to execute your ideas or to rely on an artist who has an art style you like to create something no one else will have.
The coolest thing that has come with technology is the variety of daily apps people can use to do what they need to be done. With the rise in popularity of tarot, I’ve noticed there are a few digital apps you can choose from to do tarot readings. And the best part of it all is that many of these apps are free to use as long as you have access to an app store. You can use many of these apps across multiple devices as well.
A lot of these digital apps also offer other features like astrology readings and information resources that allow you to learn more in-depth. Many of them will also break down the card spreads for you and explain each card's significance, though it will be up to you to still connect the cards to your questions or queries and to how they relate specifically to you.
The downside with a digital app is that, like anything popular online, the market is flooded with some really bad quality options. So you might have to do a bit of trial and error before you you find an app that suits your personal preferences. Keep in mind, too, that while a lot of apps are free, many of them may come equipped with ads or “in-game purchases”. So always do some research about what features will be free if you don’t want to have to purchase anything.
It’s also important to know that there’s usually a preset deck used with each app, and changing up the deck isn’t always an option. The other thing is that you are not physically touching the cards. Many traditional tarot readers strongly believe that being able to physically handle the cards ensures that you pick the right card. It has to do with you being able to subconsciously know which cards to pick so that you get an accurate reading. It coincides with your energy and the energy you’ve put into the deck.
On the other hand, apps use digital randomizers to select your cards for you. It makes the reading one less step personal. So while apps may be a great free, on-the-go option, especially for beginners, you’ll find that eventually down the line, if you want to be a serious tarot reader, an app might just not cut it for you.
I know I've discussed secondhand and hand-me-down decks, but, in that context, I was only talking about decks that were previously owned. In this section, I’m specifically talking about brand-new decks that are given as gifts. Hear me out.
Say for instance you find the perfect deck you want, but you’re unable to get it, either because of financial reasons or something else. If you have a birthday or a gift-giving holiday coming up, then it might be worth a shot to ask those friends and family who you know are guaranteed to get you a gift if they might help you out. They can get it for you themselves, pool together with a few others to purchase it as a collective gift, or they can even offer some actual money for you to put towards you being able to get that deck. Of course, it comes down to specific situations what you might ask for and how, but it doesn't hurt to ask.
And remember just because you ask doesn’t mean they are obligated to get you anything. They can always say no, so be prepared to have a backup plan for another method if this one doesn’t play out. Keep in mind too that not everyone feels comfortable around things associated with the occult, so while some might be okay with you reading tarot, others might not be. It’s just common sense to not asked anyone who might be uncomfortable around the tarot to buy it for you as a gift. Go only to people you know who would be okay with it and support you.
The downside to this method is that if you don't specify what you want, you might end up with a deck that you don't like, or with no deck at all. Please remember it’s okay and valid for them to say no, (it is their money and they can do with it what they will) so don’t be rude or demanding if they turn away the suggestion.
The Final Verdict
Ultimately at the end of the day, there are so many ways to get a tarot deck. Many of them are free or inexpensive. If you're unsure whether you even want to pursue tarot more seriously or not, it's always a good idea to know there are options that don't require you to fully commit to buying a deck outright. Apps and borrowing a friend's deck are always good ways to get a feel for trying it out. So if you're not sure, feel free to try and start there.
Otherwise, there are many resources for purchasing and obtaining physical decks. Do some research, learn more about each option, and have some fun shopping around! Finding a good deck that resonates with you is like hitting the jackpot, so don't try to rush it. Just like The Fool, sit back and enjoy the journey!