The Best Tarot Deck

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 4 January, 2017


Rider Waite Tarot Deck

Some of you may recognize me as one who has been in the tarot field for many years, almost 40. During that time I have found a tarot card deck which I consider my best tarot deck. I am sure that I am walking into a minefield when I say that I know what the best tarot deck is. All I can say is I admit it is a very personal choice. And my Queen of Wands as she is painted is probably not the Queen of Wands one might prefer. Thank goodness there is such a myriad of decks claiming to be the best tarot deck that we can truly choose a deck that speaks to our particular preference.

Many best tarot decks to be considered

I admit that at first I way overwhelmed by the many tarot decks there were and the ones claiming to be the best tarot deck. I soon found out it was a truly personal preference. While initially I was overcome by the different choices, it really didn’t take me long enough to find the one I was best suited for. I think it all has to do with whom you consider yourself to be,the talents you offer, and the spiritual place from which you make your choice.

A group that calls itself the Tarot Association Facebook brought together what they considered to be the Top 5 best tarot decks. My personal choice of best tarot deck will for me always be the A.E. Waite deck Waite by A. E. Waite & Pamela Colman-Smith (US Games) – produced in different editions, such as Commemorative, Radiant and Original. The nice thing about these decks is there are a myriad of sizes from the very tiniest to a large deck that is almost difficult to wield.

The history of the A.E. Waite tarot deck

Before telling you why I consider the A.E. Waite deck to be my best tarot deck let me tell you some of its history. I have to admit that while I admire many of the tarot decks around for beauty and description, the A.E. Waite deck has a historical and occult lineage to which I resonate. I must also tell you that most of the best tarot decks use the A.E. Waite tarot deck as a template to draw upon.  It is the one deck almost all tarot decks base their pictures with regards to meanings, placement of cards, colors, shapes, etc.

Arthur Edward Waite was born in 1957 and died in 1942. Commonly known as A. E. Waite,he was an American-born British poet and scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. As his biographer described him, “Waite’s name has survived because he was the first to attempt a systematic study of the history of western occultism—viewed as a spiritual tradition rather than as aspects of porto-science or as the pathology of religion.”

Personal history of A.E. Waite

Waite is a prolific author and many of his works are well received in academic circles. He wrote occult texts on subjects including divination, esotericism, Rosicrucianism, freemasonry, and ceremonial magic, Cabbalism and alchemy. He also translated and reissued several important mystical and alchemical works.

A.E. Waite deck is also noteworthy because of the contribution of Golden Dawn Member, Pamela Coleman Smith, for her illustrations. It is also of note that A.E. Waite is the first author to create a complete tarot deck that is not just limited to the Major Arcana.

Personal choice of Best Tarot Deck

Allowing for the fact that this is a very personal choice as to the best tarot deck, allow me to share as a tarot reader who has read for 40 years what I consider its strengths:

  1. The cards are truly drawn. This means that they express in true form the event that is occurring. There also doesn’t seem to have a preponderance of religious or occult symbols that might obscure the real meaning of the cards. You do not lose yourself in symbolism.
  2. What you see is what you get. If the guy looks like he is getting stabbed, that’s’ what is happening. I am referring to a card that shows a man lying on the ground with a lot of swords in his back. Many readers would prefer to interpret it more pleasantly. In this regards, I have also found that many cards like the palest of colors, thinking that this is more spiritual. The A.E. deck uses very common colors that seem to fit with the figure that wears it.
  3. These cards contain all the best and worst experiences available to a human’s life with no attempt to distract by beautiful artistic means.
  4. These cards appear to be very simple to me. A number of tarot decks appear very out of the ordinary and extremely powerful just on their face. I prefer a deck that is simple and understandable with non-confusing messages to represent events.
  5. There is a clear delineation of what is a good and bad card. Some decks portray more uncomfortable cards more pleasurably. I don’t like that. When I say “good” and “bad,” I admit that some of the cards seem scarier than others. But getting the Devil card, a truly frightening card, is a way to express to my querent something unfavorable they might not receive from me personally. It gives me an opportunity to bring something up for resolution. Of course, one knows that one can resolve any of these cards if one chooses to be aware. Even though a picture might appear scary or frightening, it is but a moment of truth. If the querent can accept it and come out of denial, they have a true opportunity to change their destiny.
  6. The symbolism is quite simple also. There are not too many ornate symbols that would mask the meaning of the cards. In fact, they enhance them.

Choosing your own personal best tarot deck

Some of these things I speak of might not be as important when choosing the best tarot deck for you. My recommendation is have fun choosing the best tarot deck for you.The best tarot deck is the one you choose. Trust you will see what accommodates your spiritual needs and know you have found the best tarot deck.

Uma Simon has long been considered one of the best tarot readers for her insight, wisdom, sense of humor and true tarot skill. She resides at Kashi Ashram as their Resident Intuitive and you can contact her at You can also read about her at

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