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Are all tarot decks created equal?

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  • Are all tarot decks created equal?

    In the thread "Reversals: a debate" Faerin said something that made me think (sorry to single you out, but making me think could be a good or bad thing... )

    Originally posted by Faerin
    Certain decks are not made to have reversal readings, like the Shapeshifter Tarot for instance. If a specific deck has been known to give reversal readings, then I would definitly read them as intended by the authors.
    Now, I understand that certain authors do design tarot decks and write the books that go along with them and they say "I don't use reversals with this deck"... but you COULD use the reversals and it probably wouldn't make any difference.

    IMO, tarot is tarot. If the author doesn't read with reversals then that is personal choice, but if you choose to use that deck with reversals the world won't come to an end and your cards won't disappear into a fiery inferno. The author is only making a suggestion, it isn't set in stone.

    If a tarot deck is set up as a tarot deck (and not an oracle deck) then the same meanings will apply as they do in all other tarot decks.

    I am of the opinion that a tarot deck is a tarot deck is a tarot deck. The cards will always have the same meanings no matter what the pictures are, who drew them or who wrote the accompanying book (with some small exceptions being made in the cases of Waite and Crowley). Whether your cards are all gold and sparkly or with pretty bunnies and kitties on them, or if they are just pieces of paper with the names of the cards written on them, they will still yield the same meanings. The quality of your reading may not be the same, you may not be very inspired by lack of imagery or over-indulgence in sparkle, but the meanings will not change. You may not want to read with a deck that has no pictures on it, but you COULD do it, if you have enough knowledge of the card meanings.

    So finally, I have a question. :D Are all tarot decks created equal? Allowing for personal taste in artwork, etc. Shouldn't all tarot decks have the same meanings regardless of whether or not the artist/author likes or hates reversals? Likes or hates bunnies? Likes or hates gilding and sparkle?
    :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

    See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


    If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

  • #2
    Wow. Congratulations on a truly thought provoking post. I can't even answer yet because it's a pretty complex question. I'm seriously going to think about this and I'll let you know.....

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    • #3
      well, i would say that they are all the same, but i am trying to learn how to tell the meaning of cards by looking at the images, or at least the feel of the images. the words that each card represents may be different, but the meanings are still generally the same. i dunno what i'm getting at..




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      • #4
        Originally posted by LisaT4P
        So finally, I have a question. :D Are all tarot decks created equal? Allowing for personal taste in artwork, etc. Shouldn't all tarot decks have the same meanings regardless of whether or not the artist/author likes or hates reversals? Likes or hates bunnies? Likes or hates gilding and sparkle?
        i think they should, absolutely. without some sort of conventional reference point every deck would be a separate system unto itself.
        unfortunately i don't think many tarot designers bother themselves too much with that idea.

        but then i firmly believe that most (not all) tarot decks are crap anyway, epecially those created in the past 20 years. the reason is that within that time frame you will see more decks created to fill a need, rather than to further the science of tarot. it's more about marketing than the occult.
        theme decks, art decks, etc, are all fun and very beautiful... but so what? how much 'tarot' do they contain? how much do they push the boundaries of the science? usually very little, but they sell like hotcakes, so they keep on coming.
        believe me, US Games is NOT concerned with the 'accuracy' of your readings (which i believe is a crock anyway... the accuracy comes from the reader, not a stack of pretty cardboard).

        okay, that was WAY over two cents worth!
        some people are like slinkies -
        not good for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when they are pushed downs the stairs.

        True enlightenment comes from discovering principles which challenge your spiritual view, not from inventing principles to confirm it.



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        • #5
          I agree with you Lisa....Tarot cards (IMO) are the same, or should be anyways, most decks that I have come across have the same general idea in the pictures, and I think this is a great idea considering it would be so hard to learn the meanings of every different deck out there. I believe alot is intuition, so the cards do not really matter as far as difference....remember, just my opinion..lol

          Suffering thru a 3rd deployment!!!!!

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          • #6
            Haha, I started a thread a while back at Aeclectic that was titled the exact same thing! - I was looking for differences in how they are read, etc.

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            • #7
              Great minds think alike!
              :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

              See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


              If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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              • #8
                I think it's all a matter of preference. Like I said, some tarot decks are given specific instructions that "these cards are made w/o the intention of using reversals", but it doesn't mean that you can't do them anyways. If you have it in the back of your mind that the makers of the cards want you to follow a guideline of reading them, then you might get an inaccurate reading. If you think it doesn't matter what the intentions of the authors are, but now that you own the deck you can do as you see fit, then you will be fine. If you heed the words of the authors and accept it, then you will be fine on this route as well.

                What it comes down to is just doing what feels right. Some people may never even look at the book that comes with the cards (if they come in a set) to see what the cards mean. They will set their own interpretations, whether or not they are the same as the author's.

                Like it is said in Pirates of the Caribbean "they aren't rules, more like guidelines".

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                • #9
                  Originally Posted by Faerin
                  Certain decks are not made to have reversal readings, like the Shapeshifter Tarot for instance. If a specific deck has been known to give reversal readings, then I would definitly read them as intended by the authors.
                  This quote represents my own feelings about my tarot cards and was not meant to influence anyone either way. In the post where this came from, it was a personal question and not a generalization . I do consider the author's intent when making the cards, but that's not to say everyone else needs to.

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                  • #10
                    Are all tarot decks created equal? I'd say "No"..simply because there are some decks that do a better job of incorporating traditional tarot images and symbolism into the artist's creative vision than others. There are several decks that follow the basic tarot structure--22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana divided into 4 "suits"--but in order to actually read with the cards, the reader almost needs to "relearn" tarot. I suppose it might really all come down to how narrowly one wants to define "tarot"......I mean are we limiting "tarot" as a definition for a deck of 78 cards based on the Rider-Waite or Crowley traditions?
                    The two things that make life worthwhile are love and joy. If you find one, the other is sure to follow.

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                    • #11
                      Here's my 2 cents..

                      I feel that since a Tarot deck is a medium between our conscious and the subconscious, what matters most is what meanings we attach to the images. Our subconscious will show us the cards that will drive the point home anyways. I do believe that some day if I decided in my mind that from today onwards I am inter-changing the meanings of the Lovers and the Devils cards, the Lovers will start showing up when under normal circumstances the Devil would have shown up.

                      If we were to stick religiously to the exact (and only) meanings that the designer of the deck intended, then we would never be able to hear the voice of our intuition! E.g. in one of my readings with Hansen Roberts deck, the Page of wands seemed to suggest (out of the blue) that the person I was reading for had an ENT (Ear/Nose/Throat) problem. If I had only stuck to the meaning designated for the card, I would never have accepted this coming from my subconscious. Of course, the ENT problem part was true, as the person confirmed after getting the reading.

                      So, I feel that if you decide to give meanings to reversals, they will start making sense irrespective of the deck. Similarly, there are so many ways of shuffling and cutting cards, but do we all follow the same exact method? No. But still whatever we do, it seems to work for us.. So I guess it is between our conscious and subconscious and it should be taken as uniquely as each one of us is.

                      Best wishes,
                      Moonshine




                      NOTICE: The Clairvoyant Society will not have its usual meeting this week, due to unforeseen circumstances.

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                      • #12
                        I just want to say once again that I wasn't implying that people need to follow the instructions of the tarot books, I was just mentioning that some authors do include them. I don't like the way the opening quote makes me sound like I was preachy about how to use tarot cards

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                        • #13
                          I'm sorry if the quote I used seems to be taken out of context, Faerin! I didn't mean to make you sound "preachy" and I don't think you do. If anyone comes off as "preachy" it's the Authors who say "Don't use my deck with reversals!"

                          I thought your post was interesting and thought provoking, or it would never have inspired me to begin the thread at all. No hard feelings, I hope.
                          :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

                          See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


                          If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by zakzekezedd
                            There are several decks that follow the basic tarot structure--22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana divided into 4 "suits"--but in order to actually read with the cards, the reader almost needs to "relearn" tarot.
                            But that's my point. If you have to relearn the meanings because they depart so much from traditional ones, is it still a tarot deck? And along with the question is another one, couldn't you still use that deck with traditional meanings and get readings that are just as accurate as with a more traditional deck? Totally ignoring the intentions of the author/artist? As long as you have 78 cards and can distinguish one card from another, one suit from another, does the author/artist's intention matter?

                            Let me give a quick explanation of how I read and maybe it will make more sense.

                            When I read, I not only draw information from the images on the cards in front of me. But also from the "deck in my head", which is a conglomeration of all the decks I have had that made an impression on me, as well as all the authors I've read who have done the same.

                            So, I believe that if you handed me any tarot deck, whether I had seen it before or not, I could read with it. I believe anyone who has studied long enough to become familiar with the tarot system of meanings could. I may not like the deck, but I could read with it.

                            That is not to say that we can't learn something from non-traditional decks. They are useful and serve a purpose as well. They can broaden our horizons and add to the "deck in our head" that we have already developed.

                            I guess what I'm trying to say is that I consider all tarot decks to be pretty much the same, and interchangable. Should they, or shouldn't they be?
                            :fpraise: All hail the mighty SEARCH function! :fpraiseyo

                            See the completed cards from the MW Tarot Project @ the link below:


                            If "a gentle touch speaks volumes" imagine what a bitch-slap can do! ~ me

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by LisaT4P
                              I'm sorry if the quote I used seems to be taken out of context, Faerin! I didn't mean to make you sound "preachy" and I don't think you do. If anyone comes off as "preachy" it's the Authors who say "Don't use my deck with reversals!"

                              I thought your post was interesting and thought provoking, or it would never have inspired me to begin the thread at all. No hard feelings, I hope.
                              thank you and it's a very good topic :bouncybob

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