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7 Fascinating Differences Between Tarot Decks

May 21, 2008
Maybe no divination practice is more widely done then tarot cards. Almost every culture around the world from China to Russia to Europe to the United States has their own version of tarot.

This has led to several inconsistencies over the years between decks. Some of the differences are small, others are quite big.

Let us take a look at seven common differences between decks as they vary from culture to culture.

1) Changes in suits

For most basic tarot decks, there is a major arcana and a minor arcana. The minor arcana is made up of four different suits.

In most decks, those four suits are wands, cups, swords and coins. But in some decks, the suits vary.

Wands have been replaced with shorter, thicker batons, and in some decks, coins have been replaced altogether with pentacles.

With different suits come different interpretations. Most readers use multiple decks depending on their mood that day and will interpret pentacles differently then they would coins, even though the suits are replaced for each other.

It is unknown if the overall impact of having pentacles over coins or batons over wands chances the spirit of the deck, but some readers are very loyal to one or the other.

2) Personalization

One of the bigger changes to come to tarot in recent years, thanks to mass production of decks by hundreds of companies around the world.

Today, readers can buy decks with themes suited to almost any like and dislike out there.

Baseball fan?

There is a deck themed to that. Fan of rock music or goldfish? There is a deck for that, too. It is thought that personalization of a deck is important because it allows the reader to feel more connected to the cards and allow for a more honest, complete and accurate reading.

Some may scoff at this evolution in decks as lacking in authenticity, but many new readers would not give up their personalized deck for anything.

3) Card Numbers

While most tarot decks stick with the traditional 78-card deck, there are some that choose more of a traditional playing card style with 12-card suits, instead of the traditional 14.

These decks are 72 cards, and while the overall interpretation does not change much, it can be odd getting a reading from a smaller deck that is missing certain cards that most fans of tarot are used to.

4) The fear factor

For so many people, even today in the 21st century, tarot is a source of fear and misunderstanding.

There are many tarot cards on the market today that use art to take advantage of this absurd belief. The art used in these decks is gory, obscene or just plain awful.

As long as there is a correlation in the minds of some people that tarot card reading is evil and is associated with the devil, there will be card manufacturers making decks that appear that way.

5) Painted vs drawn

The biggest tarot card difference is the way a deck is drawn. As noted above, some choose to go for an evil look, thinking that this is what most tarot fans want.

In reality, the main difference is between flat, basic drawn cards, like the original Universal Waite decks and the more colorful and illustrated decks like the popular Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot.

It is thought that the best selling tarot deck since the inception of the Internet has been the Crowley deck, thanks to its lush colors and the myth surrounding Crowley.

Most readers have a particular preference between the traditional drawn cards and the highly decorative painted cards, but the overall interpretation is usually the same.

6) Question specific decks

Some readers swear by question specific decks. These are decks used based on what question is asked during a reading.

It can simply be a case of a reader feeling a particular energy with a deck for different questions. Some readers can have a deck that they use for questions of wealth and fame, another for life and death and a third for questions involving love and sex.

While the decks may be identical in the sense that they all have 78 cards and they all may be painted or drawn, they will most likely have a different theme and be used in a different deal pattern.

7) Culture specific decks

As decks evolved around the globe, certain major arcana cards took on different names to suit the culture they originated from.

Greek decks and Roman decks differ based on the names of the Gods in the particular cultures.

As some cultures took on astrology, symbols and astrological signs crept into card design. Card decks are still evolving today with new decks featuring technological advancements and traditional characters wearing modern clothing.

The tarot deck has been evolving since they were first created and there is no sign of that evolution stopping. This is one of the aspects that makes tarot so fascinating.

You can begin your exploration of the ever-changing world of tarot today and see what the deck brings you.
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Learn the world's MOST ancient oracles for BETTER decisions, BETTER Relations! Free Tarot Reading for your and your loved ones. Free i ching online which you can use to understand yourself and your life.
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