My Favorite Tarot Decks

Decks used: Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot (Dame Darcy), Centennial Smith-Waite (US Games), Sakki-Sakki Tarot (Monicka Clio Sakki), Spirit Speak Tarot (Mary Elizabeth Evans), The Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans) // Generalist Notepad by Quill & Fox

Decks used: Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot (Dame Darcy), Centennial Smith-Waite (US Games), Sakki-Sakki Tarot (Monicka Clio Sakki), Spirit Speak Tarot (Mary Elizabeth Evans), The Wild Unknown Tarot (Kim Krans) // Generalist Notepad by Quill & Fox

I have fallen into the deep rabbit hole of YouTube tarot videos, and particularly love watching tags about people's favorite decks. When the fab Kelly Bear asked which five decks you'd pick to have for the rest of your life (that's all sorts of daunting), that got me thinking. I already had a Top Three from early on in my collection so that wasn't tough to figure out. Adding the next two, however, because I've got a number of decks to choose from, proved to be a challenge.

You can tell I really thought about this because I'm really proud of my picks—proud enough for me to write about them here. This list is great if you're thinking of getting started in tarot because it provides you the basics (especially if you're following along with my practical approach to the cards). It's also great if you're just plain nosy (like me).

The 9 of pentacles is my card of the year! All the cards together show so many ways to channel abundance and luxury.

The 9 of pentacles is my card of the year! All the cards together show so many ways to channel abundance and luxury.

Dame Darcy Mermaid Tarot. This deck goes with me everywhere, even when I consciously tell myself to pack something else. 

  • Love the grunge-y, zine-y, 90s, watercolor art. It reminds me of high school.
  • It shuffles majestically! YES, majestically. The card stock is impeccably bendy without being flimsy.
  • Who doesn't love a good mermaid-themed anything? (I wrote a children's pirate and mermaids book, so it goes without saying.)
  • There are naval officers and women wearing bouffants and huge skirts, all reminding me of the kind of campy, BBC historical drama Poldark (Aidan Turner!).

The Centennial Waite-Smith Tarot. Arguably the most popular "classic" deck out there, this version is my favorite. I avoided this deck right from the get-go because, like many who favor modern art, I didn't like the illustrations. I got it anyway because it's a foundational study deck. I ended up connecting to it immediately and now I love it.

  • This is a mass-produced deck by US Games, but the card stock is great.
  • The colors are a lot less garish than all the others that look like they just want to attack your eyeballs.
  • It has the best backing among all the versions of this deck. They keep it classy with the Tudor rose. Which reminds me of my other campy historical drama love, The Tudors

Sakki-Sakki Tarot. I love the colors, I love the guidebook, I love the headless people, I love the artist (she's incredibly friendly!), I love everything about the Sakki-Sakki tarot.

  • It's sized well—smaller than a regular tarot deck so it lies comfortable in your hands and shuffles easily.
  • I love how whimsical and quirky this one is. I avoided the Rider Waite Smith deck because this was exactly the kind of art I preferred—something a little fresher and more up to date.
  • The little white book is extremely packed with information. But if you want to spend a little more and get the accompanying book in full, you'll be doing yourself a favor too—it explains the design process from start to finish, which is pretty interesting in itself.

Spirit Speak Tarot. I first saw this deck online and thought, not for me. And then it stalked me and stalked me and stalked me, until I saw it in a boutique on Abbot Kinney in LA and of course, thought I MUST HAVE THIS! And then the only copy they had left was kind of banged up (I'm very careful with my decks and get really annoyed at even the slightest crease). So, I waited patiently and ordered it online and now it has made it to my top five.

  • Again, the illustrations are modern, current and fresh. I love that it's black and white. There are a lot of other decks coming up these days that are done in the same sort of spirit, but I feel this one pioneered the trend.
  • It's very compact. You can read with this in a tiny cafe and not feel like you're all over the place.
  • The box is incredibly sturdy, which is more than I can say for most of the mass-produced decks.

The Wild Unknown. Easily one of today's most popular decks, I found this while browsing through Free People and felt instantly that I needed to buy it, no matter how random a tarot deck purchase seemed. I bought this deck during the height of my beach-happy yoga-hungry phase and  it feels like a time machine, using it—its got a very transcendental vibe.

  • The illustrations are beautiful. Pen and ink with the slightest hint of color, I feel so lucky to have gotten the first edition because the second one (which I have too, obvs) made some changes I'm not too keen on. This one's also going mass produced, so I feel that the self-published editions are a lot more weighty and meaty now.
  • There aren't any people. To me this is a pro because I SO SO SO wanted to stay away from the airbrushed tropes that seem to live and breathe in 90% of the tarot decks produced. This makes the Wild Unknown more accessible to more people, I feel.
  • The book, which a lot of people say doesn't say much, is important to me. Because it says so much with SO FEW WORDS. It gives me the basics, and the rest of the card interpretations, I can leave to my intuition.

I already have a lineup of runners up trailing behind these Top Five. The thing about decks is that there's always something new coming up and I'm seeing a ton of self-published work I'm interested in… which I will tick off my list after my deck buying moratorium ends :P