The different Tarot Decks
Until the beginning of the 20th century, the numbered cards of the Minor Arcana were no more expressively illustrated than our normal playing cards. Such old cards can still be found under the name “Tarot of Marseille“. Apart from some decorative features, they show only the number and the symbol of the suit on a particular card. When the Rider-Waite Tarot cards were published around the turn of 1909 and 1910, they offered illustrations of the Minor Arcana for the first time ever. The fact that pictures help with the interpretation and understanding of all 78 cards contributed greatly to the popularity of this deck.
However, some people are disappointed by the simplicity and “naivety” of these pictures because they are looking for something mystical, magical and mysterious. Most of them sooner or later come across the Aleister Crowley Tarot, whose images, apart from their magical fascination, actually have an incredible wealth of symbolism.
But here lies a problem, for one must first understand this symbolism in order to fully grasp the meaning of the cards. Since hardly anyone is familiar with the interpretation of the images and symbols of this deck, beginners in particular often quickly feel overwhelmed by the complexity of the Crowley cards. Another difficulty in dealing with these cards is the fact that all the Minor Arcana have names and one can easily be tempted to interpret solely on the basis of the names rather than the symbolism. But this often misses the point.
Hundreds of Tarot decks have now been published and new ones are being produced all the time. The beginner is often faced with the question of which one to choose.
Understandably, many people simply follow their aesthetic tastes and buy the cards that appeal to them most. The problem often arises when first trying to interpret the cards, because the meaning of the cards in different decks varies. Why else would there be a new design? Therefore, it is important to find exegetical texts to go with the different decks. Most literature is available on the Rider-Waite cards and the Crowley Tarot. If one decides to buy other decks, especially more exotic ones, one should check beforehand whether there are any useful exegetical books.
From: Tarot for Everyone, Hajo Banzhaf