The Tale of the Thousand Decks – and How to Choose One

Even after all of these years of Seering and performing divinations, sometimes I still find myself back at the beginning, where I was stumbling about with learning the difference between the tarot and the oracle. I remember how my head spun when I stepped into a metaphysical store and was dazed by the racks of decks offered to the public for purchase. I remember my fear when I heard tell that decks had to be gifted, never bought; and, perhaps, you could imagine the crushing, overwhelming feeling of complete fascination and horror when a simple online search gleaned thousands of thousands of thousands of tarot decks.

Even to this day, even with the many divinations I’ve performed and the Seering I’ve done for both clients and myself, sometimes that feeling comes back when I see fellow pagans proudly showing off what seems to be an endless collection of decks. My stomach lurches when I look at all of the beautiful boxes and books arranged on huge tables, or even on bookshelves – divinatory tools treated like collectible commodities – and it all looks to me like a meaningless collection of pretty things in a showcase.

I will say that I love looking at other people’s collections of decks, but something in me asks, “How could they do that? Fifty decks? Sixty decks? Eighty? How? How?” And it’s not a matter of price; it’s a matter of how it is possible for someone to connect with a thousand decks. If one is a Seer, acquiring decks for superficial reasons should not be the primary drive to welcoming a new deck home. If I can put it this way, it is much more than simply saying, “Ooh, that’s pretty” and spending the money. It is establishing, with judicious and refined care, a carefully curated assortment of fine tools for one’s work. It is employing the thoughtful vulnerability that a Seer espouses with when they are doing their Work.

Strictness married to Taurean good taste yields very painful results: my Seership ends up being, partly, hours spent online looking at decks with a strong sense of increasing frustration. For some reason, the artwork on the majority of decks is loose, empty. It holds no content – when it does, it is light and airy. It is superficial, and it is no tool that allows me to Seer properly. I need decks that truly hold depth, darkness and light, something that can help me Seer into someone’s wyrd. I need tools that can clarify and expand messages from the Powers while also challenging and testing my limits. I need tools that can help me access the entire human condition, in different ways, so that can offer proper advice and guidance.

My Seership involves communications with the decks Themselves. To me, every single deck has a personality. Each has a gender, a Voice, and a particular way of dealing with an issue. This is another reason why it is all the more crucial, to me, to be particular with the Decks – and it is another reason why I scratch my head in horror when I walk into a house and I see a collection of a thousand decks. One has to establish a relationship with each Deck and make sure that each personality is compatible. More importantly, one has to consider the necessity of being able to interpret advice in the way that it’s said from the Deck. Have you ever met a person who has said something wise in a way that comes off as cruel or unfeeling? How about someone who takes a long time to explain one concept – or someone who can pull an Ernest Hemingway and tell you a whole story in six words? Decks are exactly the same; it’s all about discovering the right relationship with the Deck, as They truly have a mind, soul, spirit of Their own.

Take, for example,  The Wild Unknown by Kim Krans (1st Edition).This deck is one of my most beloved. We get along well because we share the same traits: I connect with Her on the sharp, uncompromising, and piercing advice She offers. She is an Empress who is not afraid to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong, what you’re doing well, and what you need to be doing. She is many times unyielding and displays alpha behavior even with the Seer She’s agreed to work with. She likes to give what I humorously call “technically unsolicited advice” – if you’re asking for details on your life path, the first couple of cards in your spread will most likely be Her counsel on the present problems in your life blocking you from your path. Then She provides the answers you seek. She is truly all about helping you get to where you need to be, and She is a selfless and generous deck – that is, if you can handle the longsword coming your way and the darkness of the human condition that She is not afraid to reveal to you.

By contrast, and yet in tandem, The Tarot of Delphi is the rich, sophisticated Empress who loves to wear rare jewels and furs for Her casual wear. This Lady is a lover of art and antiques, with a rich and truly refined taste earned from centuries of travel, art, literature, music, and dancing – perfect for the sensual and refined Taurus. She is much warmer and kinder than The Wild Unknown;  Her wisdom is proffered in ornate mead cups, lush gardens, and exquisite art. She is a precisely curated presence who speaks with the Otherworld, translating messages into an arrangement of rich wines, perfectly ripe grapes, and glimmering sapphire crowns. She is a Lady who is steeped in the beauty of the material world and its ability to be a conduit for the messages of the Otherworld. However, don’t let Her great taste fool you into thinking that She is only into superficial, tactile things – Her counsel is deep, just as uncompromising as The Wild Unknown. She can be merciless in Her own way by showing you your great horrors and fierce darkness in beautiful paintings – after all, She says, you did ask for advice. The Tarot of Delphi can be a terrifying oracle – all of my past-life readings done for clients has been taken by this deck and, trust me, She spares no expense and no detail whether it is a pleasant Seering or a sickening one.

However, don’t let Her great taste fool you into thinking that She is only into shiny, superficial, tactile things – Her counsel is deep, just as uncompromising, as The Wild Unknown. She can be merciless in Her own way by showing you your great horrors and fierce darkness in deep, close detail – after all, She says, you did ask for advice. The Tarot of Delphi can be a terrifying oracle – all of my past-life readings done for clients has been taken by this deck and, trust me, She spares no expense and no detail into the answers She provides as well as the questions She poses; She will often, while answering your question, add a gem: something truly deep and thoughtful that will leave you pensive for a lifetime.

All in all, this isn’t an article written for me to wag my finger at the person with a library of decks. Not everyone is a Seer; all Seers are different; and some people truly appreciate and love their decks, which is why they carefully collect them and love them. However, I am a very particular person (a Taurus, at that!) and, being a Seer, divination items such as tarot decks and oracle decks aren’t to be treated lightly; for me, they are the most important tools that I could ever have. Choosing divinatory tools necessitates a fine discernment because, for me, to perform a divination or an act of sacred Seership, I must have a powerful bond with the decks that I choose (or that, more appropriately, choose me). Having a thousand decks in my hands is like having a thousand tools for one task – or a thousand people in one room, all of them talking at the same time, and I have to choose one to help someone else with a situation. And that, even for an expert, can prove to be very, very difficult. Whether beginner or master, take care in the Decks you bring home with you; whether Seer or casual card-reader, be patient, respectful, and careful. Reading tarot and oracle is not just an art, neither is it simply memorization or technique: for each and every single person, I believe, Decks are sacred tools that help someone navigate through, and understand the Otherworld – and that, that, is why you need the right Voice to help guide you along your path.

 

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