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A Deck for Any Situation: How I Choose

This is another post in the “Ask a Tarot Reader” series. If you have a question for me that you’d like to see featured here, please email me at, Subject line: “Ask a Tarot Reader”. Please specify how you would like your name to appear or if you wish to remain anonymous.

This is my tarot bag... want to take a peek at which decks are inside?

This is my tarot bag… want to take a peek at which decks are inside?

This one comes from a twitter follower:

The short answer was this:


The longer answer, well, is this blog post! The thing is, I try not to play favorites with my tarot decks. They only “become” my tried and true one subject decks if I calibrate them as such.

How does one “calibrate” a deck? Direct enough single-topic questions at them, and they’ll become a one-topic deck in most cases. This is both a blessing of tarot and a curse. Tarot allows us to look at a situation from all angles, and calibrating a deck towards specific topics can help hone in even further. However, If I use my “feelings” deck during a financial reading, trust me: I won’t get a reading on money. I’ll get a reading on how I FEEL about money, or how others feel about it. To be sure, there’s a benefit to that, but there’s a definite downside as well.

When I go out into the world to greet a new tarot client, I bring my tarot bag with me. This is a large bag that I hold four decks in, a notebook and pen (just in case my client hasn’t brought them and wishes to take notes), my trusted timer, and my large water bottle. The identity of the four tarot decks included in the tarot bag usually rotates out, depending on how I’m feeling or intuiting about what the client needs as I pack my bag before heading out for a reading.


Here’s a little “backstage pass” to the four decks I usually bring with me to any tarot reading appointment:

For romance readings: I use Mystic Dreamer because of not only the reasons tweeted above. Consistently when I have a client choose a deck for a romance reading, they choose this one (sometimes only feeling the energy coming off of the deck, and sight unseen!). It seems that both client and tarot reader are in agreement on this one: this is my lovey-dovey deck.

For a no-hold’s barred, gotta have the unvarnished truth reading: Tarot of the Boroughs. Sometimes the grittiness of a photo deck will force me to just “get real” with a reading. I also call this the “tough love” deck when my clients need a bit of a butt-kicking! I have a few theories about why this deck equates with tough love for me: the designer of the deck uses tough love to teach lessons to me (and frequently). Also, it’s hard not to “get real” when you have real-world images staring you in the face instead of a dreamy illustrated figure looking up at you from the card.

For the soul-seeker: Legacy of the Divine has a spiritualistic feel. It’s very used to hearing the question: “What is my soul’s purpose?” or “What is my destiny/fate?” Again, clients will choose this deck, sight unseen, when wanting to ask about their soul’s purpose.

My comfortable “security blanket” deck: Llewellyn Tarot. When all else fails (or a client simply doesn’t want to choose which deck they want to be read for from), I reach out to my own personal default deck. I’m extremely comfortable with the imagery (based upon stories in Welsh mythology) and this is the deck that I do my own tarot readings from. It is very good at general readings and equally at home in any topic the client wishes clarity on. An all-around team player!


Other decks that I “sub in”, when warranted:

Steampunk Tarot: Practicality is the name of the game with this deck, and also, it’s fun! This is one of the most useful decks I own, and despite its nod to the Steampunk genre (usually very specific) it seems that this is the deck to use with clients unfamiliar with the tarot… it’s surprisingly welcoming to newbies.

Tarot Nova: Because of its simplistic nature and innocent imagery, I normally use this deck for children. It sure as heck is not recommended for your first deck BECAUSE it is so simplistic (see the blog post for the down-low on that) but nix the big-baddy cards that younger children don’t understand (Death, the Tower, the Devil) and it could easily translate to the perfect reading deck for your little one (both sides of the table). Why not teach your child an excellent tool for creativity and self-contemplation?

Heart of the Faerie Oracle: for the seemingly aimless wanderer, who’s just as content when their questions lead to more questions. Since this is an oracle deck and not a tarot deck, I find that these type of decks lead to more questions and rabbit-holes than definable answers.

The choice is yours,

Image courtesy of Papaya! Art

Is there a deck you use for a specific topic? What is it and why do you use it for that topic? Feel free to Comment below!

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3 Responses to A Deck for Any Situation: How I Choose

  1. First of all, Hilary, LOVE your tarot bag – it’s beautiful! Thanks for this post. I’m familiar with most of these decks but it’s fun to see how other readers use them. I had to revisit the Tarot of the Boroughs. I remember you posting on this deck before but this time I went to the website to check it out in detail and read about some of the people behind the images. I don’t usually like photographic decks but I find this one appealing. I like the directness of this deck a lot…may have to get one for my personal collection!

  2. […] more I read for people, the more I realize that I overpack my reading bag EVERY. SINGLE. […]

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