There are certain easy-to-use divination and fortune-telling decks you can start with when you want to develop your intuitive skills, but you’re perhaps concerned that Tarot is too complicated a place to begin. I’ll mention certain fortune-telling or oracle decks first, and then in future will focus on ways to read and think about Tarot cards.
Here’s a great deck that I really recommend, the Russian Gypsy Fortune Telling deck by Svetlana Alexandrovna Touchkoff.
I find that when I have a need to understand the specifics about an issue, as in, what will happen with my love life, or my finances, or is my lover faithful; is this person a good friend; how bad is my illness, these cards are the place to begin.
First of all, they help me focus my mind on what the issue really is. Sometimes, you have these vague, amorphous thoughts and fears about a situation, but have not yet begun to articulate what’s really wrong. These cards have been very helpful through the years, to get some basic insight on what’s bugging me, and I’m on my second or third set, since I keep wearing them out, I use them so much.
The designs are based on Russian folktales and Gypsy wisdom that has been passed on through the centuries from one family to the next. The author says that the cards are a “blend of animal, natural, and Christian symbols.” There are 50 designs, and the truly unique aspect to this deck can be seen when you lay out the cards, because they are not in any way like any other deck you’ve ever worked with.
They are not like Tarot, where you lay out one card at a time and assess its meaning. Instead, you lay out a row of five across and five down, and then move the cards around to match up the symbols. So if you have shuffled, concentrated on your question, and laid out your rows, the symbols that come up should speak to your question.
In other words, if I ask about love, there are certain symbols I expect to come up: the ring, the handshake, perhaps the heart, and a few others, to indicate fidelity or potential arguments. I find these cards to be highly accurate. There is one symbol that has come up for me consistently through these past years, which indicates having houseguests, an “addition to the family,” and sure enough, I have had two very unplanned for people show up on my doorstep who have come to live with me.
The 50 designs include everything from a loaf of bread, to indicate material plenty and harmony in the home, to a wild horse, indicating forces outside your immediate control that could drag you down with them if you’re not careful.
There is a devil card, which tells you that you’re over-reacting to what’s happening, and an anchor, which indicates that you’ve put your “anchor” down in the right place or not, depending on the position the symbol is in when you make the match. There are four possible positions each symbol can be in, and each reading is slightly different for each position, with its own meaning.
If this system sounds confusing, it really isn’t. The guidebook that comes with it is very simple and straightforward, and will explain in complete detail how to do a reading, what to expect from each reading, and what each symbol in all the possible permutations of each meaning has to tell you about your situation. The cards themselves are quite beautiful and the images are simple and appeal viscerally. You will be able to work easily with these cards, which is helpful, since they are much more straightforward than Tarot. You can find these cards at Amazon
Voyager Tarot: Intution Cards for the 21st Century
These cards are truly amazing, and in many ways, ground-breaking, as a method of self-analysis. What James Wanless, their creator, has done, is synthesize different religions, worldviews, images, symbols, and myths, to express the meaning of each card. The effect of each card, which is a 3-dimensional collage of pictures and symbols, is to allow your mind almost instant access to an answer to your questions. The full-color cards are stunning and affect memories in the brain that synthesises information in a way that traditional tarot cannot. Wanless has divided the deck into, of course, major and minor arcana, and the four suits.
The “suits” are not in absolute alignment with classical tarot, but they are similar. There are cups symbolizing emotions; worlds, for material attainment and manifestation; wands, for endeavor and activity, and crystals, for thought and rationality. The image on the box in the picture above is of the Ace of Crystals, which symbolizes the spark of inspired thought that begins all new mental challenges. Each card has a name, or meaning; in this case, for example, this Ace stands for “Brilliance.” I like to use this Ace and the 5 of Crystals for simple yes or no answers since each one is very clear in its meaning. The Ace is clearly “yes!” and the 5, which stands for “Negativity,” is clearly, “no!”
You can use these cards in traditional ways, and read a Celtic spread, for example, but they are so powerful, and inspire such connection between your thoughts and intuition, that it’s likely you will find what you need from one or two cards picked randomly from the deck. I find this is simply the best deck to use when you require a simple, straightforward answer, a yes or no, and would also like to find out what another person might be thinking. I have found the crystals suit is really helpful for figuring out what someone is thinking about you, or how their thinking works, for example.
The cards also encompass feeling states that the tarot cannot easily access usually. For example, the seven of cups, “Fear” is not like the traditional 7 of cups, which usually stands for self-delusion, or many options. The cups’ suit is actually very interesting; the 4 is “Anger,” for example; the 8 “Stagnation.” These are not your traditional meanings. Similarly, the crystal suit is interesting. The 2 stands for “Equanimity,” the 4 “Logic.”
The major arcana is pretty much a card-for-card substitution for the classic deck, but a few cards have been altered, like Judgement, which has been turned into “Time-Space,” implying that no judgement occurs outside of a context. Temperance has been transformed into “Art,” because of the need for synthesis to understand how to work with varying influences; and instead of the World card, you have “The Universe,” in an attempt to recognize how large our influences really are, and how all-encompassing our “world-view” can really be if we open our minds to take all possibilities into account.
It’s a very inspiring deck, absolutely beautiful and compelling in its imagery, and completely unlike any other tarot deck. Impressions you receive are so immediate, so visceral, your intuition will be jump-started. Find these cards at Amazon
Titania’s Fortune Cards
I really like these cards. These are better than tarot for understanding the issues you’re dealing with, because they are so much simpler to use, for one thing.
There are 36 cards that use symbols that have been synthesized from Russian and Romany (Gypsy) motifs, and the symbols are so archetypal, you won’t have trouble remembering them, the way you can with tarot. Also, I’ve found the longer I work with these cards, the more I understand even the most subtle information. If you are skeptical about how this “works,” I understand; but these cards predict all kinds of things for me that tarot cannot, at least partially because humans actually take in much more information than we can possibly account for consciously, and these symbol systems help us decode some of what we already know.
The first time I used them, I was very skeptical. And in my first reading, I got a very serious group of symbols that indicated someone dying. I was like: oh great. This was very upsetting to me, and it’s also not something you see in tarot, because tarot is much more ambiguous. But these cards have a scythe, a coffin, and other negative images that really cut through any confusion about negative situations, and let’s face it, most people are scared a lot of the time about the negatives more than they are confident about the positives. If you were so confident, you wouldn’t be using the cards, now would you?
The reading proved to be very accurate. There were two deaths in my family within a few months of doing this reading, and neither of them were expected. So that made me a big believer in the power of these symbols. There are also lovely and positive cards, too, and I have come to rely on those symbols showing up, because they are very reassuring. I now turn to these cards before I turn to Tarot, because the 36 symbols are clear and concise.
One of the suggested readings is to lay out three columns of three cards each, and read each row at a time, and cross rows as well, to get an amplified message. The first few times you do this, you might be very confused by all the information, but you learn how to read the cards like sentences, and that’s very much the way they work.
It’s best if you come to the reading with one specific thought in mind, even though the woman who wrote the book suggests that you just let the cards guide you. That might work the first few times to get a feel for them, but once you’ve used them, you get a much better idea of how you can interpret them. When I get a confusing reading, it usually means that I either did not come to the reading with a clear question, or that there are many influences around the question, and that the answer depends very much on how I handle the energies involved.
I would recommend them both for people who are just getting started, who would like to develop their intuition, and for people like me, who have been using Tarot forever, but want to branch out and find a more direct symbol system with clear meanings. They have proven to be very helpful during emotionally turbulent times, guiding my thought processes so that I could make a better decision.
When You Feel Ready For Your First Tarot Deck
First of all, you’re going to want to pick a deck that speaks to you. Your choice of deck is very personal to you. Ultimately, if you work with Tarot cards, you’re going to want to imbue the cards with your energy, that is kept separate from other people, so when you’re ready to pick a Tarot deck, you’ll want to store it carefully, perhaps wrapped in a silk cloth, stored in a box of an appropriate size. I personally believe very strongly in treating Tarot cards with respect.
Readers are drawn to the images and colors; different artists who design different decks evoke emotion and reactions in you, so go with your instinct. Which cards or decks do you particularly resonate with?
Go with the one you are drawn to, because if you choose a deck you think you’re “supposed” to like, you’ll be fighting your intuition every step of the way, trying to work around images, colors, and perceptions that will inevitably feel wrong to you.
Trust your instinct. That’s rule #1 in Tarot reading; when you’re learning to develop your intuition and intuitive ability, the block you’re overcoming is self-doubt.
Here is Llewellyn’s site, where you can both buy a deck and get a free online ‘reading’. A comprehensive online resource is Aeclectic Tarot, a site for beginners and advanced Tarot readers, complete with a forum and suggestions and reviews of individual decks. You can also buy your deck at most larger bookstores (like Barnes & Noble) or metaphysical stores in your area.
Tarot for Beginners, by Barbara Moore, is an excellent resource to start with.