Hey friends, how are you? It’s been a busy weekend around here decluttering, organizing, redecorating and improving my sacred sanctuary aka meditation room aka guest bedroom. We finally rid ourselves of an old clunky wardrobe inherited with our home, replacing it with a fresh new work surface to house my cards, crystals, books etc. Although in my previous life, I lived, breathed and actually worked in the world of interiors – today I don’t ever want to see another IKEA allen key again! Sore hands and back suck (built a few pieces) but it was all worth it. Now that the enormous black wardrobe is gone – the room feels lighter, brighter and I feel so much better; the energy is free to flow! Deep exhale, ahhh… So tonight I’m finally settling in: sipping tea amongst my new plant friends, burning nag champa, listening to old Radiohead and writing up my very first post in my refreshed sacred space. So this entry is extra special 🙂
1. How do you feel about the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS)?
Love it! It’s the first style I started learning with and actually don’t use any other tarot system. The imagery and symbolism are so familiar now that I’ve acquired experiential correspondences to the cards that pretty much feel like old friends sharing their wisdom with me time and time again. And like Alaina mentions, I’ve recently just found my true love: the Centennial edition with the pale blue backing. It feels so organic…and right. Wish I got it sooner! Ps. Happy belated birthday to Pamela Colman Smith – artist of the RWS born on February 16th 1878!
2. What was your beginning deck?
I started out with the Sharman-Caselli Tarot (as pictured above) with a gorgeous solid magenta backing. It is a Rider Waite Smith clone, although at the time I had no idea of the historical background or various streams of tarot. I was just 16, but always drawn to the magical, mystical and darker side of life, the unknown. And always seeking to explore it.
Remembering back to the day I purchased the SCT, a friend and I were shopping at Indigo (so non-woowoo!) so obviously there wasn’t a huge selection. I mean, now that I think about it, because I was blindly choosing a deck I could have easily grabbed the Thoth (if it was there) or some other tradition and started down that path… so I guess I was just meant to begin the RWS way.
The deck itself came with quite a substantial guidebook. I appreciated the intuitive card colouring as well: Wands embodied warm golden orange tones while Cups were illustrated with a range of pale watery blues. The actual images are clear and easy to understand – a great starter pack for beginners and still available here.
3. Do all beginners need to start with the RWS (or clone), in your opinion? Why/why not?
Tarot students should follow their intuition and go in the direction they feel is right. For some that may look like working with the Thoth deck first. However, personally, I would recommend starting with RWS decks as the imagery is fairly uncomplicated and relatable. Yes, it is layered with various astrological, numerological and archetypal symbolism but in my opinion, at first pass, one can more easily interpret a scene with human figures vs. abstract imagery. Also, there is tons of of support out there for RWS readers as this tradition is widely practiced.
I remember during a tarot circle I attended last year, a new student (as in completely new to the game) showed up with the Hermetic deck, not even knowing the basics. This is a highly detailed black and white deck suited for advanced readers. Our mentor suggested that he maybe start with a less complex deck and choose one with artwork that could be easily recognized – yet at the same time pointed out the possibility of being drawn to this deck for a particular reason and should fiddle around with it for a while. But if it didn’t click, then move on. The key is, as with everything: always go with your gut!
Until next time friends!