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traditional tarot vs new tarot

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 15 Mar 2004, and now archived in the Forum Library.

~TheWiSeFooL~  15 Mar 2004 

I just would like to know peoples favourite decks they use?

I have Rider Waite which is the best for beginners because of the imagery helps you to remember the definitions and general meanings of cards from just looking at the pics.

Who thinks that the new decks like Lord Of The Rings have been created so differently that they now have lost their symbolism from the conventional tarot? (for me personally I like the deck, I think that it looks heaps cool myself because I am a huge fan of the movie + book)

And especially decks like Feng Shui Tarot which have combined both the eastern art of feng shui and tarot together. and also Dragon Tarot which just has dragons...?

What are your opinions about the images and symbols being misrepresented in some way after a while? Because they are not of the traditional tarot symbolism? 

HudsonGray  15 Mar 2004 
The world's changed considerably since the Middle Ages (life expectancy shot up from 26 years old to about 85 now, for one thing) which does change the meaning of some of the cards. Death for instance. It's different when you live in a time where childbirth took out most women before they had time to really live life, when 4 out of 10 kids never made it to two years of age, and people never planned to 'retire' because nobody likely would make it into their 50's unless they had the added benefit of being noble born (provided there were no wars going on that your King required your presence at). And the original Marseille meaning of the Fool was tied to Lent and journeying from what I've read. You're going to get shifting inmeanings, one way or another, over 600 years time, regardless.

But some decks do diverge from the 'traditional' meanings quite a bit. I can't see reading with the Lord of the Rings deck, for one, but neither can I with the Baseball Tarot, which some people actually love. And I never got a good reading off the Cat People Tarot at all (as well as that darned Haindl deck that just sits there now). The decks themselves have to resonate with the reader or they're just colored pictures on card stock, same as trading cards or game pieces.

I can't say 'symbols' are misrepresented because people have their own connection to symbols. A falcon on the wrist in that pentacle card means one thing to me (being in the SCA and having talked to falconers) and another thing entirely to someone not familiar with raptor rehab & hawking. That card could have had a greyhound on lead with jeweled collar & come across the same way to me as what it's intended in actual meaning. (And what is it with the snail on the ground in front of her?)

So, it would mostly come down to personal interpretation, what you learn about the cards, and your own connection to your culture & life--to make a connection of the right type with whatever deck you pick to work with. That's why there's so many on the market & why some really odd ones can be immensly popular among readers. 

Phoenyx*  16 Mar 2004 
Originally posted by HudsonGray
(And what is it with the snail on the ground in front of her?)

There's a snail? *grabs her RW and searches for the card*

Oh my god, there is a snail....And if she keeps walking and looking at that falcon, she's gonna end up smooshing the snail with her little slippered foot. Ewwww... 

Mystic Chris  16 Mar 2004 

I'm a newbie compared to many seasoned tarot people on this forum. But to answer TheWiseFool's question, my favorite deck is Rider Waite, although it has been the only deck I have really used. I would look at others, but for some reason they don't speak to me, maybe because I learned the tarot by studying the traditional Rider Waite deck. As a result, I have a better connection with the Rider Waite deck than any other. I suppose I can transition to another after spending time getting acquainted with it by meditating on each card's images.

I like HudsonGray's observations. And wow, I did not know that the Rider Waite is about 600 years out of date. Good to know as I shop around for a new deck. Because another new age hobby of mine is astrology, a friend suggests I should look for a deck with such images...

Any recommendations?


HudsonGray  16 Mar 2004 
The RW is only about 80 years old (done at the turn of the century from what I remember, same time as the Thoth deck). It's the older tarot - the Marseilles line - that goes back to the really old times, mostly out of Italy at the start. Those are the oldest images.

The RW & Thoth were the first really popular modern versions done, then around 1960 or 1970 people started designing a lot of other tarot decks, which hit the market at about the time of the hippies & Free Love--so when the New Age movement was born people had a really nice wide selection of tarot decks to look at & choose from.

That's why the Marseille Fool looks so different from the RW Fool. And the Emperess has had such a meaning shift in regards to that card. 

TemperanceAngel  16 Mar 2004 
Originally posted by Triquetra
There's a snail? *grabs her RW and searches for the card*

Triquetra, do a search in the RWS Forum and you will find a great thread on the snail :)

RWS is 100 years old, and I don't think the Thoth is 100 years old. But then again I am no historian. I think the RWS reflects the progress of Society, things can't stay the same forever.
Marseilles does have its place, esp. with the history of Tarot. XTAX 

Diana  16 Mar 2004 
Originally posted by TemperanceAngel
Marseilles does have its place, esp. with the history of Tarot. XTAX

I beg your pardon?

There is nothing more actual than the Tarot of Marseille. It is as modern and fresh as the day it was born.

The stars are not old-fashioned either... but they have been around for billions of years. 

TemperanceAngel  16 Mar 2004 
Hmmm, yes, I can see where perhaps I didn't state myself properly.
Marseilles is so much older than RWS or Thoth, or all these new decks of today, so therefore it does have a very important place in history, esp. concerning Tarot.

Originally posted by Diana
There is nothing more actual than the Tarot of Marseille. It is as modern and fresh as the day it was born.

To some it maybe fresh and new and others it may not be. It's that individual approach to Tarot, where no-one is right and no-one is wrong, everyone works with what works for them...

HOLMES  16 Mar 2004 
i don't care for the marsielles,
1. no picturals pips, is an ugly deck by today standards,
3. there hasnt been a really good to come out that shows me the tradition, history of the symbolism that would make me want to study it.

this can be rectified,
2. have someone who admires the marsielles tradition, comes from marsielles, update the images to be modern but true to the original,
1. just pretty up the pips
3. have someone write that book, (or i can spend a few years learing french which since i live in canada i am supposed to know anyways bah ).

the rider will be a hundred 100 in 2010 , it can't be considered modern, or new, but now falls into the traditional tarot like the old marsielles, just not as traditional as the french deck.

is the marsilles the only true tarot ? hell no , is the rider the only true tarot, noo, how about the thoth ? hell no as wel,
is the new decks the true tarot, hello no,

is there a true tarot , no, is there tarot standards, yes,
78 cards, works like a tarot deck,

i like the baseball tarot after i read the book for it, i don't know about the lords of the ring tarot,

despite what i have said here, i respect the marsielles as being the grandfather , the rider waite as being the father, the toth as being the mother LOL of today tarot standards,
startign to wait for the new tarot of the 2000, the one what will reset the standard but given the toth and the wait deck,, it may be an other 300 years before that hapens, 

TemperanceAngel  16 Mar 2004 
Holmes I wish I could articulate as well as you do! XTAX 

mj07  16 Mar 2004 
Originally posted by ~TheWiSeFooL~
What are your opinions about the images and symbols being misrepresented in some way after a while? Because they are not of the traditional tarot symbolism?

Like someone else said, I gather you can't really say the images are "misrepresented".

It's hard as a beginner, though, to learn on a non-traditional deck such as the Sacred Circle b/c although it's rich in symbolism on it's own, much of it is VERY different from most "traditional" decks. For the purposes of communication, if I'm talking tarot with someone who's only familiar with say the RWS, we may interpret the meaning of, say, the Page of Cups card very differently. For that reason I've been trying to find just the right deck for me that balances the commonly used symbols with a more modern feel.

So far, I haven't found it! 

yve  16 Mar 2004 
Does the imagery have to follow certain standards or traditions? Does the symbolism have to be universal? My feeling is that any deck will do. After all, isn't the intention to give a message? If the person who is handling the cards is able to portray the intended message to the receiver, hasn't the cards fulfilled their purpose? Are they not then useful? Maybe I've just wandered away from the intended topic....I started out reading with Rider Waite, but now use many different decks, including a variety of oracle decks to do my readings....intuition guides me more in my readings, the cards are just my guide. 

Phoenyx*  16 Mar 2004 
Perhaps TheWiseFool did not mean "traditional" as in age, but as in imagery. For instance, the Tower has a Tower, and its called The Tower and has the typical Tower-like meanings.. The 9 decks I have, I believe eight of them have The Tower, with a Tower, with very typical Tower-like meanings: destruction, building from the ground up, foundation-shaking changes. The 9th has a tower in it....that's about all you can relate to the "traditional" decks....I'm still trying to figure that deck out. The Tower isn't getting hit by lightning, no people are falling on their faces, it isn't crumbling. 

The traditional tarot vs new tarot thread was originally posted on 15 Mar 2004 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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