My Tarot study is inseparably linked to the decks I use. Here is a list of my collection, with brief introductory commentary for each deck.
For the most part, I write up my thoughts on a deck as I obtain it, and add a link to this list. If you read all of these posts, you might notice in some of the earlier ones that I state an aversion to amassing a large collection. I no longer feel this way, but have made no effort to remove my earlier opinion from these posts.
Any photographs in any of my posts are taken by me of the decks in my collection. I’m no photographer, so I apologize now for the poor quality of some of the pictures.
- Smith-Waite Tarot Deck: Centennial Edition. Published by U.S. Games in 2009, a hundred years after the original was published by the British Rider company in 1909. Conceived by occultist A.E. Waite and illustrated by P.C. Smith, this is one of the most influential Tarot decks of all time. Abbreviated RWS for Rider-Waite-Smith.
- Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. This is the first deck I’ve ever owned. It is a variant of the RWS with a bold, “radiant” color scheme.
- Universal Waite Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. Another variant of the original RWS, with finer linework and new colors.
- Miniature Rider Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. This deck is a miniature version of the RWS, using the original artwork. It will be abbreviated as rws.
- Aquarian Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. Art by David Palladini in 1970. An Art-Deco styled, RWS-pattern Tarot. Abbreviated AT.
- Mystical Tarot. Published by Lo Scarabeo, 2017. Art by Giuliano Costa. An RWS derivative with sumptuous and sometimes surreal artwork. Abbreviated MT.
- Universal Tarot of Marseille. Published by Lo Scarebeo. The creator of this type of deck is unknown. It is named for the French city which produced them. This specific deck is based on the version created by Claude Burdel in 1751. It will be abbreviated TdM, for Tarot de Marseille.
- CBD Tarot de Marseille. Published independently by Yoav Ben-Dov (the “BD” in “CBD”) in 2010, this is a TdM based on the version created by Nicholas Conver (the “C” in “CBD”) in 1760.
- Thoth Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. This deck was created by the infamous Aleister Crowley, with help of artist Freida Harris, between 1938 and 1943. It was first published in 1969. I will abbreviate this deck as CHT, for Crowley-Harris-Thoth.
- Thoth Tarot (Pocket Edition). Exactly the same thing as above, except the cards are much smaller. On the plus side, the small size makes this deck much easier to use for readings compared to the original, which is by far the largest deck I have. On the minus side, the intricacies of the artwork suffer ever so slightly with the reduction in size. Abbreviated cht.
- Wildwood Tarot. Published by Sterling Ethos. This pagan-themed, non-traditional deck was created by Mark Ryan and John Matthews with the help of artist Will Worthington in 2011. It was designed to accommodate the Wheel of the Year system, with new titles and images for the Major and Minor Arcanas. This deck will be abbreviated as WWT.
- The Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot. Published by Lo Scarebeo. This type of deck was created by J.F. Alliette (pseudonym “Etteilla”). This specific deck is a reproduction of the deck referred to as “Grande Etteilla III”, which is itself based on a version created by a student of Etteilla named D’Odoucet in 1804. It will be abbreviated as GE, for Grande Etteilla.
- Sun and Moon Tarot. Published by U.S. Games, 2010. Created by Vanessa Decort. This deck blends the symbolism of the RWS and CHT with a modern twist. It will be abbreviated SaM for Sun and Moon.
- Deviant Moon Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. Created by Patrick Valenza in 2008. An original Tarot deck with a dark and humorous edge. Abbreviated DMT.
- Shadowscapes Tarot. Published by Llewellyn. Breathtaking surreal fantasy artwork by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law graces this RWS-inspired deck. Abbreviated SST.
- Medieval Scapini Tarot. Published by U.S. Games. Designed by artist Luigi Scapini, who helped U.S. Games design their reproduction of the historic Sforza-Visconti deck. Drawing inspiration from that experience, Scapini designed this, his own deck, in 1985. Aesthetically, this deck appears medieval in style, but close study will reveal influences from many historic Tarot traditions, including Wirth, Etteilla, and the Golden Dawn, among others. The pips are illustrated despite its mimicry of historicity. Abbreviated as MST.
- Dame Fortune’s Wheel Tarot. Published by Lo Scarebeo. Created by Paul Huson in 2007, drawing from his research on Tarot history in his book Mystical Origins of the Tarot (2004). The Major Arcana makes use of medieval symbolism that would have adorned the first Tarots, while the illustrated Minor Arcana draws influence from many sources, most notably Etteilla. Abbreviated as DFW.
- Mary-El Tarot. Published by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd, in 2012. Created by Mary White. Very beautiful and very nontraditional cards that draw inspiration from an eclectic blend of influences. Good for serious reflection. Abbreviated MET.
- Hermetic Tarot. Originally published in 1979 by U.S. Games. Designed by Godfrey Dowson. A black-and-white occult Tarot based on the methods and ideas of the Golden Dawn. Abbreviated HeT.
- Visconti Tarots. Published by Lo Scarabeo. A reproduction of the historic Visconti-Sforza Tarot, which is among the oldest extant decks. Abbreviated VST.
- Tarocchi Sola Busca. Published by Lo Scarabeo, part of their Anima Antiqua series. A reproduction of the historic Sola-Busca Tarot, which is an artistic anomaly and is almost as old as the VST. Though not suitable for a reading deck, these cards hold an esteemed place in my collection because of their curious nature. Abbreviated SBT.
- The Hobbit Tarot. Published by U.S. Games in 2012 with artwork by Peter Pracownik and written interpretations by Terry Donaldson. A Tarot illustrated with scenes and imagery inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal book The Hobbit. Abbreviated HoT.
- Golden Wirth Tarot. Published by Lo Scarabeo. These large-size cards are gilded with a lavish, glittery foil. They were originally published by Oswald Wirth in 1927 (?) as an update to his 1889 cards. Major Arcana only, abbreviated OWT for Oswald Wirth Trumps.
- Tarot Trumps by Oswald Wirth. I’m not sure what the publication information for these cards would be. They were cut from the back of Wirth’s book, called Tarot of the Magicians, published by Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC., 2012 (First published in French in 1927 as Le Tarot, des Imagiers du Moyen Age). While the book is from 1927, the cards themselves were designed in 1889. Inspired by the TdM-pattern trumps, these cards have been re-worked to accommodate Wirth’s occult theories. There were no Minor Arcana created to accompany the trumps. Abbreviated OWT.
- In addition to these decks, I also have a set of Conver TdM trumps courtesy of Teeny Tiny Tarot for purchasing one of the above decks from them (a pleasant surprise). These are printed on nice business size cards, and sport miniature images of the old woodblock prints.
All of the abbreviations listed above are used throughout this site for the sake of convenience on my part.
So there you have it. These are the decks to which I will be referring in my future posts. I believe they constitute the basis of a well-rounded collection of the essential incarnations of that Book of Wisdom, the Tarot.