when is it too early to create a deck?


I haven't been reading cards for long at all. In fact, I only one one deck and have only had it for a month or so, but I have long been interested in tarot cards and have looked at many decks online and decks of friends...

so, essentially I'm asking: should I wait a little longer before designing one of my own?


It's a good question. Are there basic academic qualifications for starting to create a Tarot deck, or are we all cosmically-plugged-in enough to start creating one at any time?

The two main decks in use today, RWS and Thoth, were created by people specifically schooled in the hermetic traditions, and the artists were different people from the conceptualizers.
Since the 70's and 80's, we've seen an avalanche of decks issuing from the tarot community-at-large, which is to say, self-educated people doing their own art and writing. The results are mixed.

So how much education is enough? I'm tempted to say that an acquaintance period of some years is a good idea, along with some sort of hermetic affiliation.
And what about the art? Perhaps of equal importance, enlisting the aid of an appropriate artist is also a good idea, if you're not one.

Major Tom

Creating a tarot deck can also be used as a method of learning.

Decide where you want to start - pick a single card - and study that card. View as many different images of that card as you can find. Read various interpretations of that card and form your own opinion. Then, create your own version. Repeat 78 times and you have a tarot deck and a deeper understanding of the tarot.


Major Tom said:
Creating a tarot deck can also be used as a method of learning.

Decide where you want to start - pick a single card - and study that card. View as many different images of that card as you can find. Read various interpretations of that card and form your own opinion. Then, create your own version. Repeat 78 times and you have a tarot deck and a deeper understanding of the tarot.

I absolutely agree! I've been trying for years to learn tarot cards. First, I was snowballed by all the information from the books I've acquired and read (there seemed always to be different interpretations when it comes to certain cards and decks). Then I couldn't (as I understand now, spending some time on this forum) read my Thoth deck. I thought I just can't learn the Tarot. The fact that the cards themselves did not SPEAK to me didn't occure as a possibility.
Then I started journal. This is a good way to go. But sometimes I just feel pressured If I have to start from the Fool, then go to The Magician... I thought I should find my own way of doing this, because sometimes, some days, I'm just not in the mood for The Fool, or The High Priestess. Maybe that day I am more drawn to The Devil or The Sun.
So I decided to start creating my own deck and learn the Tarot this way. There is a universal symbolism in all the meanings. It is just the question of accepting what works for you and support this by some good ideas that other people found meaningful. And there you go. Instead of writing my journal, I am painting it in Photoshop. And while undergoing this process, some new meanings are opening for me.

Everybody on this forum says that you should do it the way YOU like it, the way it comes from inside YOU. So this is POURING from inside me and I can't stop it and I think that, for me, this is a good way of learning the Tarot!


Learning through creation!

I think this is a great question! So great that it transformed me from a lurker to a poster.

I have been trying to learn tarot for years, ever since someone gave me the Rider-Waite about ten years ago. All of the methods I had read about were too dry for me, but I knew that a purely intuitive reading method was not the right path for me.

Finally, a friend and I embarked on the process of creating our own decks. At long last I am finally learning the tarot! For each card we work on we read as many interpretations as we can find and discuss the card together. Then we piece together our own cards from images taken from all over. In this fashion we learn each card we've worked on at a deep level I have never achieved with more traditional memorization techniques. The resulting cards are resonate with us because they include symbols we chose because they speak to *us*.

At any given time we are working on several cards at once. This is very important for me because it is easy to get stuck on a given card for any number of reasons--the meaning is confusing, the symbols are difficult, or just because it can be hard to find just the right image (finding my Hanged Man was a challenge!). Furthermore, I am making no attempt to make my way through the cards in an orderly fashion. Sometimes we select cards at random (for whatever meaning of "random" works for you!) to work with. Often, however, I let whatever is going on in my life guide me to a card to focus and meditate on. For example, I needed the darkness and glimmer of hope of the Tower after a painful breakup. When the initial shock wore off, I needed the message of the dangers of brooding from the 5 of Cups. Sometimes an image will jump out at me, and I'll have to work on "its" card next.

When I'm done with this process will I have a "good" deck? It depends very much on what a "good" deck is. It certainly won't pass the muster of folks better schooled in numerology, elemental dignities, and so on, because I don't know anything about these things and as a consequence I don't consider them much when creating my cards. Furthermore, as I get more experienced with the cards and the medium (digital collage with PhotoShop), the cards get richer and more sophisticated such that I am already finding some of my "earlier" cards to be somewhat lacking--and I've only completed eight cards!

So I won't have a deck that will work for a purist--so what? I will have learned the tarot, created a bunch of art, and guided myself through the ins and outs of my life's journey during the process. AND I'll have a deck that speaks to me, full of symbols and images that resonate with my own history.

So I say--it's never to early to start! Don't expect to end up with a deck you can sell to a publisher necessarily, but you'll learn so much. The process is profoundly instructive, deeply satisfying, and really just a lot of fun.

Best wishes,



What great advice! This has got me thinking about designing a deck for myself. I really like the compartive method - looking at every deck you can and going from there. Fab! It is a great way to tie together what you are learning if different decks as well. The wheels are turning. :)


Why not allow yourself to develop a few cards and see if it is one or more than one deck emerging at once...sometimes people take postcards, collage, scissors to start, but then launch into their own favorite media...and discover there's more than one deck or art style emerging.
Majors first seem to quite popular. But if you find a large or handy sized used tarot deck at a bookshop for a cheap price or a playing card deck (that's minors and three of the courts right there), there's a bit of a start. And horrors, I cut up four very low-cost deck finds, Botticelli postcards and Medieval/Renaissance art history books to assemble a reference deck.
One past deck had a Greek cameo picture of Hermes for the Fool...so I did Egyptian-Greco-Roman to Renaissance in that deck.
But yesterday I've pulled out three favorite Edmund Dulac postcards that I've had for years and used them for Temperance (Ariel of the Tempest), Magician (Aladdin of Arabian Knights) and Death (Princess in Arabian Knights) cards.


not to sound too tangled... but

It's too early to start a deck if you're asking if it's too early.

When you're ready to leap off the cliff, you won't ask what's at the bottom.

fly well
jump blind



too early?

To VerseJunkie:

I don't believe it's ever too early. Of course you're still learning, we all are. When your deck is finished, you will probably want to start over again, because you've changed so much since starting. But it's the process of making the cards that changes you, and teaches you so much. That's my experience anyway. I say you start right now. It's never too early to start, but it might be too late later. :D

To Everyone:

Hi guys! I'm back! Have been away for a while, but I think I'm back to stay. Check out the simple tarot!


Too early?

Hi all. I'm new to this list but finding it interesting and useful.
I've been reading /studying the tarot for some years now, i think it is never to early to start-(once you know you are smitten why wait)- creating a tarot for yourself as a profound learning for yourself, I think if you intend to do more than share it with fellow enthusiasts (i.e if you plan to put it out into the world as a 'professional' deck) then it is probably better to have paid one's apprenticeship dues over a number of years to allow one's learning to synthesise and deepen..but then again whose to say at what rate learning and wisdom accrue