How do you get to know a new deck?

strings of life

A reading deck? Like SunChariot and Sulis, I just start using it. Daily Draws, readings, exchanges. It's the best way for me. This is also how I find out which decks are keepers. Otherwise, they go into the slush pile!

When I get a used deck, and I prefer used ones, the first thing I do is put the cards in order. It's a must for me. Majors, Wands, Cups, Pentacles/Coins. I flip through the cards and get to know the deck and its cast of characters. I also put the deck under my pillow for one day, maybe more. Sometimes, doing that influences my dreams, something I find fascinating. If there's a companion book that has details about the cards as opposed to generic descriptions, I'll read the book. But, in the end, I'm the one reading the cards, so what I take from them is what matters. That makes us Tarot readers.

But, again, I just use the deck.


I lay out the entire deck on the floor of the living room and examine the cards. I lay them out in majors, then minors in one row per suit with courts on the end of the row. I always put them: Wands, Cups, Swords, Coins. I look at each card to see if I recognise/understand it. For those cards that puzzle me, I have a look at the companion book. Then I choose 3 favourite and 3 least favourite cards based just on the imagery. Then I narrow it down to most favourite and least favourite.

Then I rearrange the minors and put all the aces together side by side, then all the 2s, 3s, 4s and so on. I put all the queens together, all the kings together, etc.

This is pretty much what I do, except I don't pick out faves and least faves. (I do that after my first week using the deck, though!) And then my first spread with a new deck is always the new deck interview spread that I found in the Spreads forum here.

Tarot Orat

Thanks for all the insight, everyone! I really appreciate it. I guess the reason I felt iffy about just jumping in with this deck is that it was SO different than my usual style, and it's based in a subculture I have zero experience with, and has renamed suits and two renamed court cards to boot! But it turned out to be very intuitive - I read enough of the book to understand why the creator used the new suit and court names and once I had that context, it wasn't hard to remember and I could interpret the cards surprisingly well. I guess it goes to show that the Tarot archetypes really ARE universal, and whether a card has a beautiful watercolor fairy or a fluorescent pen-and-ink zombie, I can read it if I just give it a chance to speak to me...