Captivated by the world of tarot cards? Curious what the ancient symbolism of the deck might have to say but unsure where to start? You're in luck. I'm here to demystify the process and help set you on your oracle card journey. When the world is topsy-turvy, it's only natural for people to try to make sense of it any way they can, and many folks are looking to tarot in order to find some perspective and insight into their lives.
Cartomancy (the art of divination using a deck of cards) dates back to 14th century Europe. What we now recognize as a modern tarot deck was developed in 16th century Italy and France.
I've been reading tarot for most of my life. The subject of spiritual practices can be intimidating for newcomers - there is so much information - but I've found the best way to start is to just jump in! Whether you're in search of tarot gifts for a curious pal or are looking to dabble yourself, this is your ultimate guide to kickstarting a tarot and oracle card adventure.
From beautifully designed decks that resonate with your vibes to beginner-friendly guidebooks that unravel the meanings behind the cards, these products are your companions on this magical ride. Get ready to shuffle, lay out a spread, and let the cosmic whispers guide you through a world of self-discovery and intuitive insight.
First and foremost, you need a deck. There's an old superstition that you shouldn't purchase your first tarot deck - rather it should be gifted - but that's not a belief that I personally hold, so go ahead and grab for yourself or go the gifting route.
My choice is always the classic Rider-Waite deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith. Most tarot books, websites, and apps base their interpretations on the symbolism found on these cards so the Rider-Waite is the basic point of entry for new readers. If this deck doesn't speak to you, be sure to skip to the bottom of the list for other tarot and oracle decks I love.
Rachel Pollack's Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom has been called "the Bible of tarot books," and it's as close to a definitive text as exists.
First published in 1980, this tome approaches tarot using a modern psychology bent rather than speaking strictly to esoteric symbolism. It's extremely thorough yet approachable, offering a brief history of the subject, interpretations of the cards, and an introduction to the most used tarot spreads.
Creating a magical space is, in my opinion, crucial to the card-reading ritual. After all, the vibes are everything! Laying out a special mat called an altar cloth helps to designate your reading space as sacred and instantly puts you in a receptive mood. This one from Etsy seller Shop of Enchantments is a generously-sized 18" by 30" rectangle of heavy cotton with finished hemmed edges, featuring a pumpkin, gourd, and floral motif.
Decorating your tarot space with certain crystals can help to cleanse the vibes and magnify your psychic reception. Having selenite around continuously clears the energy and helps to protect from negative influences. In this pointed tower form, it directs your queries straight into the ether.
If using it for intention-setting and manifesting, hold it in your hands while visualizing your desire. In a tarot setting, for example, before you shuffle and read you could hold this selenite tower and visualize a white beam of knowledge and wisdom flooding directly into the top of your head.
Amethyst is the stone most associated with psychic visions, dreams, and spiritual wellness. Before diving into a reading, try holding this crystal point with your eyes closed for a few moments and see if anything flashes into your mind: a question, an image, etc. Then shuffle the cards and ask for clarification on what came to mind.
Cleansing the energy of a space also helps a reader to slip into a receptive state. Palo Santo spray is an easy, non-flammable way to literally clear the air but you can also use it to cleanse your cards and any other sacred tools you may want to use. Palo Santo - which means "holy wood" - has been used in the spiritual practices of native South Americans for millennia, and Earth's Elements Wellness crafts their spray with the utmost care and respect for those traditions.
Each bottle contains a blend of pure, sustainably sourced palo santo essential oil, water, and natural emulsifiers and is infused with a fluorite crystal for added clarity.
For those who are not smoke-averse, a good incense helps to cleanse your space and set the mood (but i'm a fire sign, so I would say that.) House of Intuition is a metaphysical shop in Los Angeles, and they stock their shelves with ethically sourced crystals, herb bundles, loose and resin incense, and a variety of other spiritual tools.
Anytime I go, even if it's just to pop in and see what's new, I always leave with some Blessings incense sticks. It smells amazing, and at $5 for a pack of 20, the price point is just right.
When you read tarot, you're really asking your Guides to speak to you through the cards. One way to invite them in to your ritual area is by lighting a candle.
Chime candles are inexpensive and perfectly sized for small spaces like a table top. Each color corresponds to a different subject: you might light a green one when asking money questions, red for love queries, orange for creative inspiration, and so forth. When in doubt, you can't go wrong with white. These ones are unscented and made from paraffin wax with a cotton wick.
Safety first! These holders are just too cute not to include on the list. Definitely the "cozy witch" aesthetic we're going for. They're handmade from birch and feature a brass shield to prevent scorching. Choose from eight vibrant colors and finishes to suit your space.
It's always a good idea to take notes along your oracle card journey. The longer you do, the more you may notice that certain patterns emerge. A blank notebook works great, of course, and I even take pictures of my spreads and keep them in a folder in my Notes app, but this journal and workbook from Labyrinthos is so gorgeous I just had to mention it.
With 78 card worksheets, a compendium of tarot spreads, and six months of daily reading notes, the completion of this book leaves you with your own personal tarot book of shadows and a thorough transcription of your journey.
One kind of glaring issue about the symbolism in tarot decks (and Western mystical workings in general) is that much of it is rooted in gender binaries of masculine or feminine, which can be alienating for a modern audience.
The Fifth Spirit Tarot, though based on the familiar imagery of the Rider-Waite, aims to be a more inclusive deck for folks of any gender identity. Showcasing a rainbow of skin colors, body shapes, and abilities, this is truly a tarot deck for the 21st century.
For the bookish mystic, this deck draws on the spirit and creativity of feminist literary icons like Virginia Woolf, Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, Flannery O'Connor and more to guide you through your practice. It features 30 hand-illustrated author cards and 40 symbol cards, plus a 38-page book of interpretations to inspire your own artistic pursuits.
Moonology has nearly 23,000 five-star ratings on Amazon, making it one of the most popular oracle decks on the market. Using astrology and the symbolism associated with of each of the moon's phases, this deck is designed to allow the user to tap into their intuition and draw wisdom from the earth's silvery satellite. It's divided into four parts that correspond to each phase, plus cards for Supermoons, Eclipses, and New Moons in each sign of the zodiac!
Spirit guides can take any form, especially that of an animal. Every culture in history has looked to the animal kingdom for inspiration and symbolic meaning, and Untamed Spirit assembles 50 of these interpretations in one beautiful oracle deck.
The 122-page guidebook alone is worth the purchase. It explores the symbolic significance of each beast, elemental correspondences, the origins of their respective sacred identities, plus short spells and prayers to help you invoke their wisdom.
The Prism Oracle is a kaleidoscope of insight with 45 cards that explore the relationship between color and emotion. Each card showcases a different energy with a corresponding color and pattern, utilizing psychology and color theory along with magic. It's a straightforward, intuitive tool for getting to the heart of the messages from your higher self and an excellent aid in the journey to self-reflection.