10 best tarot cards for beginners

Looking for a friendly tarot deck to carry you forward from the comfortable shores of the Rider-Waite-Smith? Allow us to introduce our pick of the best tarot cards for beginners.

By: The College of Psychic Studies.   Posted

Most of us begin our tarot journey with the trusty Rider-Waite-Smith deck. It's the tarot gateway. It's also the deck that our tarot tutor Avril Price uses for her brilliant Tarot Foundation course. But where do we go from there? Choosing a new pack can be overwhelming for a beginner when there are so many tarot cards out there. Our pick of the top 10 tarot cards for beginners will guide you comfortably into a whole new world of tarot wonder...

The stalwart: Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

Of course, the first in our pick of the best tarot cards for beginners HAS to be the Rider-Waite-Smith. Developed at the turn of the 20th century by scholarly occultist Arthur Edward Waite, and illustrated by the magical Pamela Colman Smith, both members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, this deck is the tarot blueprint upon which many contemporary iterations are based. It was originally published in 1909, and the College is fortunate enough to have a first edition in its archive!

The cheery friend: Morgan-Greer Tarot

Having first learnt the tarot with the Rider-Waite-Smith - as our tarot tutor Avril Price recommends - you'll want to start exploring. If that's the case for you, the friendly Morgan-Greer Tarot is a great place to start. This beautiful, colour-saturated, vintage deck is an easy step into the vast terrain of contemporary tarot interpretations. That's because the imagery, colour and symbolism in these cards are based very closely on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. One small departure is that Wands are Rods in the Morgan-Greer tarot. Add in some vivid retro palettes and some warm and friendly illustrations, and hey presto, we have the perfect tarot deck for beginners.

Morgan-Greer Tarot cards

The cult following: Aquarian Tarot

Everyone loves Aquarian Tarot (including The Atlantis Bookshop's Geraldine Beskin who worked with it for years). It has acquired cult status since it was first released in 1970... and just one glimpse of its gorgeous earthy palette and clean Art Deco aesthetic will tell you why. David Palladini's Aquarian Tarot cards are closely based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, making it an easy pick for our best tarot cards for beginners.

Aquarian tarot cards

The collector's cards: Ethereal Visions

Feast your eyes upon this glorious gilded deck. Where Aquarian Tarot is all pleasing Art Deco geometry, Matt Hughes' Ethereal Visions is a celebration of Art Nouveau. These cards are closely aligned with the Rider-Waite-Smith, making this a perfect tarot deck for beginners. And it truly is a thing of beauty, which is why there are so many pirated copies on the market! To avoid cheap imitations, which lack the pretty gold accents and gilt edges, buy your Ethereal Visions deck directly from an official store like US Games, or, even better, from the artist himself. 

Ethereal Visions tarot cards

For contemporary tarotistas: The Light Seer's Tarot

Tarotistas the world over have been bewitched by The Light Seer's Tarot - and there's no mystery as to why. This is a very appealing and accessible deck. It places tarot firmly in the 21st century, with the major arcana featuring contemporary characters we can all relate to... there's the meditator, the hippy, the witchy woman, and it has to be said, The Devil is a very handsome devil! The Light Seer's Tarot is perfect for those who want an easy access point to bring the tarot into our extraordinary digital, technological age.

Light Seer's Tarot cards

The nature-lover's deck: The Wild Unknown Tarot

Kim Krans' hand-drawn illustrations in The Wild Unknown Tarot are deeply beloved by tarot enthusiasts across the globe. Monochromatic cards with dramatic rainbows of inky colour represent a true contemporary take on the cards. Like The Light Seer's Tarot (above), they are a strong departure from the Rider-Waite-Smith's traditional symbolism and imagery. However, if you're drawn towards trying out a more intuitive style of tarot reading, many beginners swear by this very pretty deck.

Wild Unknown Tarot cards

The non-traditionalist: Voyager Tarot

Other-worldly and visually stimulating, Voyager Tarot by James Wanless is truly beloved by those who shy away from esotericism and traditional tarot symbolism. Its fascinating collages prompt the intuition in delightfully imaginative ways. Plus the guidebook is rich with detail, making this an ideal next step for those who want to take their relationship with the tarot to the next level.

Voyager Tarot cards

The dreamy deck: Fountain Tarot

No photograph will do justice to these exquisite silver-tipped, holographic cards. Simply put, the Fountain Tarot is the most beautiful in our recommended tarot cards for beginners. With dreamy imagery, each card is a work of etheric art. According to one of our tarot readers, "This deck is one of my most successful when I'm giving someone their first tarot reading ever. Almost everyone connects easily with it."

Fountain tarot cards

For Thoth adventurers: The Gill Tarot

If you feel ready to try out the Thoth tarot, originally designed by Aleister Crowley and Lady Freida Harris, a great starting point is The Gill Tarot. These simple cards are great for tarot beginners because they include keywords for the minor arcana and court cards. It's really colourful and fun to use, and the images are pretty simple and to the point.

Gill tarot cards

For early starters: Tarot For All Ages

The Tarot for All Ages warms the cockles of our heart at The College of Psychic Studies. If you know children who are fascinated by tarot, then this is a deck they might like to explore. One of our staff members gifted it to his 10-year-old niece, and he is happy to report that she is enjoying them thoroughly. The Tarot For All Ages is a sweet, friendly and approachable deck that's as likeable for adults as it is for younger tarot learners. 

Tarot for all Ages cards

How to choose the best tarot cards for you as a beginner

No doubt you are well aware of the plethora of different tarot interpretations out there. It can be overwhelming. And why bother - after all, we have the trusty Rider-Waite-Smith! Of course - and many tarot readers develop their relationship with this deck for the rest of their life. However, exploring different tarot cards can be so much fun. Not only does it challenge us to get to know the cards in a whole new light, it also brings some very beautiful and interesting artwork to our tarot table. 

To find the best tarot cards for you, go with your gut. As we're sure you know, the tarot works in magical ways. You might be drawn to one of our top picks above (and please do let us know - we'd love to hear from you!). Or, quite by chance, you'll happen upon a deck that really sings to you. Perhaps you might be fortunate enough to receive a tarot deck as a gift! Whichever way you find your perfect beginner's tarot cards, enjoy the process!

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