Last updated: August 21, 2021 at 16:09 pm
People who are already familiar with divination know that one of the oldest divination texts/tools known to man is the I-Ching, which is usually translated as the Book of Changes (also see: Creation of binary code inspired by 5,000-year-old text). I started studying the I Ching when I was in college (which is forever ago), and it has indeed been an incredible source of wisdom for me personally.
Last August I bought a book about the Rider Waite Smith tarot titled 'Llewellyn's Complete Book of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot', after I watched a tarot reading for my sun sign on YouTube just for fun, but it turned out to be astoundingly accurate. I'd never given any time or attention to tarot as a credible divination tool, which is why I did what I always do when something intrigues me, namely a deep-dive and in-depth study of the subject.
After nearly a year of research into tarot and oracle cards, buying many decks, and doing many readings for myself, I can only confirm that tarot and oracle cards are indeed an incredibly useful tool for meditation and divination. What I also learned is that even people who have worked with them professionally for many decades, can't explain exactly how and why readings often turn out as accurately as they do. Even though tarot cards look quite simple, tarot as a system of divination is incredibly complex, as the symbols carry many layers and meanings. You can get a lot out of it though even if you don't study the symbols in-dept.
Here's an excerpt from chapter one of Llewellyn's Complete Book of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot (RWS):
The RWS deck is the best-selling tarot deck in the world to date. The RWS deck is referenced in literature and used in all forms of media, including film and television.
If you're asking huh?, in television?, I've never seen it used in television, the answer is yes, you probably have but you just didn't know what you were looking at. Look what shows up after the closing credits in every episode of the tv series Mad Men:
It's the number 19 card of the RWS tarot, titled the Sun. You can look this up yourself if you find a stream of the show online and go straight to the credits.
Excerpt from chapter one of Llewellyn's Complete Book of the Rider Waite Smith (RWS) Tarot, continued:
It (RWS) is often a beginning readers' first deck. History, evolution, and circumstance created an extraordinary device that people use for fortunetelling, self-knowledge, and art. Tarot decks with new themes are created by the hundreds, maybe thousands, each year. New decks with differing themes are usually called RWS clones. Clone decks' illustrations are derivative of Pamela's RWS illustrations. […]
The RWS deck is an enigma. It is a complex tarot deck filled with esoteric symbols and secret meanings, yet the illustrations are surprisingly simple. A beginner can use the deck as easily and deftly as a professional. The deck is a perfect artifact of the year of its creation, 1909, yet remains shockingly modern and perfectly usable over a hundred years later. The RWS deck is a Modernist art object as important and impactful as Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon or Edward Munch's The Scream, also painted in 1909, yet the RWS deck does not haunt history by hanging on the wall of a museum. Anyone in the world can buy, borrow, or own a copy. The RWS deck is tucked into backpacks, wrapped in silks, consecrated on alters, stored in college dormitories, and stocked in bookstores around the world.
What I was most surprised to find out is that tarot and oracle cards are indeed widely used by many as a divination tool, to this day. There are thousands and thousands of decks available, and an equal amount of reviews of tarot and oracle decks on YouTube by amateurs and professionals. These reviews are very useful because you can have a look at all the cards before you buy a deck, to see if the artwork on the deck and the card quality are appealing to you. Even though I don't support Amazon in any way, shape, or form, it is fair to say that you can find almost every tarot and oracle deck and book you could possibly think of there, and the customer reviews are often helpful to get a first impression before a purchase. Get your decks from your local bookstore/online store though if you can.
There are also countless YouTube channels where readers (male and female) provide online readings and some of them are also run as a business. Many professional readers provide free readings (for specific sun signs or about other subjects), and extended readings can then be purchased for a (usually) small price. There are tarot readers on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
I strongly advise you however to be careful with readers on YouTube and in general. There are many readers who can be contacted for personal readings which they provide for a fee, but this is a double-edged sword. If you find a reader/readings that strongly resonate with you, but you don't know how to interpret tarot cards yourself, you leave yourself wide open to manipulation and deception. Let's say you're in a relationship or married and the (or a) person you are involved with (could also be a friend, relative, colleague you-name-it), knows which YouTube channels are your favorites. It is very easy for them to contact those readers and have them say whatever they want, which you will probably take as good advice, to get YOU to do whatever they want. I'm not saying this is a frequent occurrence, but it has been known to happen so be careful. That being said, watching several random online tarot/oracle readings can give you a good impression of how to shuffle and interpret the cards.
(Update 15 August 2021: Nothing added to the article here, but I removed the list of recommended online readers, as most of their recent readings are highly inaccurate. (I run quality checks) Nothing can surpass what comes out when you pull your own cards, but you can of course run your own searches for tarot readings on YouTube to find the ones that resonate with you.)
Although the videos can be very helpful, YouTube is certainly not the only source where you can learn more about tarot and oracle divination/meditation. There are also innumerable websites that explain the history, meaning, and use of tarot and oracle cards. The cards are used for career and financial readings, any type of relationship advice (husband, wife, friends, family, colleagues, potential love interest, you-name-it), and advice for every other situation you can think of. That's why they're so popular and widely used. A deck that I found particularly interesting for business and financial tarot readings is the Money Tarot Cards. A review can of course be found on YouTube.
A few sites that are nice to start off with for general orientation are:
If you decide to start exploring tarot, I highly recommend that you start with an original RWS deck and resources that give good explanations for the cards.
From my own research and readings, there are currently only three sources that I can list with regard to detailed meanings of the cards, which also give highly accurate readings, but you'll have to explore and decide what works for you.
Tarot Card Meanings:
1) Llewellyn's Complete Book of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot
2) TheTarotGuide.com's Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. This site is my absolute favorite with incredibly accurate meanings for the cards. Unfortunately, the descriptions aren't available in printed form so you'll have to look the cards up online. (or copy/paste the various descriptions to a text file and print it out)
3) The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings
Recommended RWS based decks to start with:
1) Original Rider-Waite Tarot Deck
4) Vice Versa Tarot Kit (note: if you get this deck make sure you get the kit, as the regular version doesn't have the elaborate guidebook)
An excellent tutorial about the (historical) meaning of the cards in the original RWS deck. It was posted in February 2013 and to date, 22 July 2021, part 1 has had 1,581,953 views. Part 2 has had 306,846 views.
Learn The 78 Tarot Cards in Two Hours – Part 1 of 2
Learn The 78 Tarot Cards in Two Hours – Part 2 of 2
Recommended oracle decks to start with:
1) The Psychic Tarot Oracle Cards
5) Mystical Healing Reading Cards
7) The Tao Oracle This oracle deck is a very accessible and easy way to get acquainted with the I Ching. The guidebook is very detailed and stands well enough on its own, but if you would like to know more I can recommend the I Ching translation by Hua Ching Ni titled 'The Book of Changes and the Unchanging Truth'. Be mindful though that given the age of the I Ching some of the views, particularly with regard to women, are very outdated so use your discretion when it comes to interpretation.
8) Spirit of the Animals Oracle
9) Keepers of the Light Oracle
10) Goddess Power Oracle Cards The meanings of the cards in this deck apply to both males and females.
***Recommended Reading*** What is the difference between tarot and oracle cards?
A deck that is currently on its way to me from the UK is the Bright Future Tarot deck incl. Workbook and Journal and I can't wait to do a reading with it. The Tower card in the 1st edition is represented as the Twin Towers on 9/11, which could not be more appropriate given the meaning of the Tower card in the original RWS deck. The 1st edition is almost sold out and some of the cards, including The Tower card, are different in the 2nd edition. If you want to get the 1st edition, contact the store before you buy this deck to check if it is still in stock. By default, the 2nd edition is currently shipped.
Tower card in the Bright Future Tarot (image is from a review on YouTube)
Other decks that are contemporary versions of the original RWS deck, which I didn't get because the artwork/images don't particularly appeal to me, but which nonetheless deserve to be mentioned so you know what's out there, are:
* Heaven & Earth Tarot Kit (note: if you like this deck and want to buy it make sure you get the kit. Like the Vice Versa tarot, the regular version doesn't have the elaborate guidebook)
* The Everyday Enchantment Tarot
* The Corporate Tarot and Companion Book
Once you feel you've mastered the images, symbols, and meanings of the traditional RWS enough and you're ready to move on to something more abstract, there are two contemporary decks with silhouettes that are interesting to check out:
Update 8 August 2021
I am adding 2 other tarot decks I have in my collection to this article (the first two on the list), and a couple of interesting decks that I came across yesterday:
* The Moonchild Tarot I had to order this deck from an online shop in Australia last year, as it is an independently created deck and, unfortunately, the designer doesn't ship to Europe. Beautiful artwork and well worth the wait to get it all the way to Amsterdam. This is the Moonchild Tarot's website.
* FateShifters Astrology Tarot Deck
* The Good Karma Tarot This deck is a super beginner-friendly, fun, and playful tarot deck for people who want to learn something about tarot without immediately diving into the original RWS deck. The images in this deck are all related to the RWS meanings of the cards, but without the complicated symbolism. RWS will have to be the next step though if you do decide to get serious about tarot. The Good Karma Tarot is a tarot deck with "training wheels". 🙂
Don't forget that the RWS meanings also apply to all the other aforementioned tarot decks, and very often the creator of a deck adds his/her own understanding and interpretation of the cards in their guidebook as well. When it comes to selecting decks the only thing that really matters is which images and artwork appeal most to YOU.
I'll also list a few more oracle decks I have in my collection:
* The Secret Language of Light
* The Priestess of Light Oracle
—— End of August 8th, 2021 update ——
Update 21 August 2021
In my teens and several years after that, I read 3 books by Linda Goodman (1925-1995) that gave me valuable insights into astrology and even more esoteric subjects. The books I'm referring to are Sun Signs, Love Signs, and Star Signs. There is a potential for an increase in the intensity of events in the days and months ahead, so as I mentioned in another article, Stay Grounded, Stay Sane, Stay on the only message that matters which is, Refuse All Fear Narratives.
—— End of August 21st, 2021 update ——
These are some of the most popular publishers of tarot and oracle decks (but there are countless others):
Tarot and oracle cards reflect the energy and (hidden) undercurrents of a particular situation, and/or the character and intentions of the individuals involved. Yep, no kidding, you can learn things about people and circumstances you didn't even know were true, but which later turn out to be spot on. I will not go into details about my own readings but you can explore this yourself, with your own readings.
Get an original RWS deck that you like, and ask your Higher Self a question like, what should I know today?, or what should I know about [relationship/person/situation/problem]?, or what is the best course of action with regard to [relationship/person/situation/problem]?, or what is the most likely outcome of [name situation X]?, or what will be the most likely outcome if I [do X]?.
Shuffle the deck like you would any other deck of playing cards and then pull 1-3 cards in your own way. Some people take the first three cards, some people take every seventh card, some people fan the cards out in front of them and pull the ones they are most attracted to. There really is no fixed system; you can experiment with this and find out which way gives you the most accurate reading/advice. It's all very intuitive. Sometimes 1 or 2 cards spontaneously fly out of the deck when you shuffle, and they provide the perfect answer to your question. Nearly all decks come with guidebooks that also provide examples of spreads.
As this is another DIY Research article I will end the introduction here by saying, have fun exploring and prepare to be amazed!. 🙂