As the holiday season approaches people are putting together their wish lists and reading holiday round-ups and I am living for it. I love those lists and eat them up with vigor. I’m not quite doing that but I am doing a post about the plethora of decks I use regularly and why you should grab them for your loved one or yourself this holiday season.
I’m picky about tarot decks: if you’re not queer friendly and throwing some fierce images at me, if there’s not a progressive slant, if you’re just rehashing the same classic tarot decks we all love but have been done to death I just can’t throw my money in to support you. I’m also exceedingly picky about the Death card, the Moon card, and having illustrated pips. I read and teach largely through art analysis so you’ve obviously gotta give me some kind of art to analyze.
With that being said, here are my absolute favorite tarot decks:
Unfortunately a couple of my favorites are out of print and a couple are in between printings. So while you maybe can’t buy The Numinous Tarot or Next World Tarot THIS holiday season you should bookmark those sites and check back.
The Numinous Tarot is a delightful trip down a colorful genderqueer paradise and the art even features disabled people, chubby people, and lots of BIPOC. It’s shiny and pretty and I absolutely love it.
The Next World Tarot is a powerful and exciting deck. In the creator’s own words “Featuring body outlaws, endangered cultures, and anti-colonial belief systems, THE NEXT WORLD TAROT envisions a world where justice relies on respect and revolutionary love “. It also gives crystal clear readings with practical steps.
The Slow Holler is, unfortunately, totally out of print and potentially not coming back. The Collective Tarot is for sure not coming back which is a shame because I don’t even have one. I’m just obsessed. If you manage to find a copy of either floating around a Facebook marketplace or e-bay though grab it stat. Both decks are collective decks that reimagine the suits and the majors to be explicitly queer and reference queer community instead of heteronormative family units. Good luck and happy deck hunting!
There’s a deck I love so much I decided to use it to illustrate my upcoming Queering the Tarot book: The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott. I’m careful with this one because some of the images can be jarring to people who’ve had rough experiences. The deck updates the Thoth tarot beautifully though, giving it an urban magic makeover. It’s getting repackaged and sold through a bigger publisher soon but you can still grab a copy at the link.
My personal favorite decks are actually The Book of Shadows tarot by Barbara Moore. I honestly don’t know why I connect with this sister deck so much. The As Above & So Below decks are so different and not altogether cohesive. Yet I turn to the As Above over and over again for advice on spiritual matters, and the So Below is absolutely my standard deck for events and busy days at my steady gig as it’s packed with modern images, soft but bright colors, and practical guidance.
The Linestrider Tarot looks like a light, fluffy, whimsical deck. It is that, but it is also anything but. It is actually my “straight talk” deck that I turn too when I can sense someone needs some blatant honesty from the tarot. It just happens to have really cute splashes of watercolor throughout it.
The Prisma Visions is stunningly beautiful and at times starkly evocative but that’s just one of the reasons I love it. Each suit spreads out to make one big picture, and the card’s interpretation is just what happens when you lift that piece out. It’s an amazing learning tool for my tarot students and it’s a breathtaking deck to use with clients. Honestly if what you’re hearing is “I like it because it’s easy to learn and pretty”…well, that basically is what I’m saying.
I have often thought that a good way to subvert cis and heteronormativity in the tarot is to just not feature humans. The Wooden Tarot has proven that to be a solid viewpoint. This one somewhat breaks my rule about illustrated pips but there is enough difference in each card and intentional design of the pips that I am still able to teach and read with it easily.
The Cosmos Tarot & Oracle. I don’t even know what to say about this deck. It’s definitely not for beginners and even as someone who is just an astrology hobbyist I struggle with it sometimes as it combines the two forms of divination into something really unique and special, albeit a little complicated. It’s a collective deck too, and right out of Minneapolis. It’s stunning, artistically. It’s fun. It’s very deep and nuanced and you can read with it for years like I have and still learn new things at every use.
Surprisingly, the deck that has been and has felt like mine the longest is actually a very battered Spiral Tarot. This one fits in with my spiritual beliefs that life is a cycle and we sometimes just need guidance for where we are. My Celtic based paganism is largely why I fell so hard for this deck, but I also listed it on here not to push you to buy it but to show that the deck that calls out to you is the one for you. You can queer it later. You can add your radical beliefs and subvert every single card if that’s what you want to do. The magick is in the connection between you and the deck, and you never really know where that’s going to land.
There’s one HUGE exception to that last statement though; when a deck isn’t rooted in our history and culture, we probably should not use it to make money. I have a Santa Muerte deck that I think most Latinx readers would absolutely adore. I use it for myself or my partners sometimes. I never, ever use it to make money or for promotional pics because it is so steeped in Latinx culture that it feels ludicrously appropriative for me to profit off of. Another deck I love and strongly recommend but do not use is the Dust II Onyx deck. It is so full of love for black women and black spirituality and so deeply imbued with fat and body positive messages. This deck is so important and I can not recommend it enough to black clients and students. I in no way use it to make money but honestly it’s phenomenal and you should own it.
As I look at how my practice has changed and evolved, I’m super into a few decks that I think would round out my collection amazingly. So here’s what I want Santa to bring me for secular Christmas this year (or what I want my Pagan friends to snag for me for Yule). My top wish list decks are:
The Visionary Tarot. I’ve been looking for a black and white deck that calls to me for a long time and I’m really smitten with this one and it’s silver edges. There’s very little info about the deck or it’s process out there. I saw it on one of my favorite instagram accounts and have been stalking the Etsy page ever since.
The Brady Tarot. This one is a lot of birds and again, I just really love the art of it. Emi has spoken a lot about her visions and ideas for the deck though and I’m always delighted at those interviews and Emi’s vision for using the tarot to shape conversation and connect to deeper purpose. For some of the same reasons I’m also really smitten with the Anima Mundi Tarot. They both go back to that whole “less humans = more queer, more liberation from patriarchal ideas, etc” idea and are so lovely in such different ways.
Of course I’m constantly dying to get my mitts on the aforementioned Collective Tarot as well as Thea’s Tarot, which is a queer, feminist deck. Thea’s IS coming back though and you can read more about it here.
Please share your favorite decks (or wish list items!) in the comments below! I love to hear about your experiences with tarot and what’s moving you these days!
Blessed be y’all!