What Tarot decks and books do you recommend for an absolute Tarot beginner?

A: If you are a Tarot beginner, its best to keep it simple. You might be tempted to buy a whole bunch of decks and books, but I would recommend purchasing just one deck and one or two books to start. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself!

I highly recommendrider-waite-smith-tarot-deck buying the basic Rider-Waite Tarot Deck (sometimes called the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck or RWS for short). This is the best tarot deck for learning on for two reasons:

  1. The images in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck are clear, simple and easy to learn.
  2. Most modern Tarot decks are based on the images and meanings of the RWS. Once you learn the card meanings and structure of this deck, you will be able to read from most other decks quite easily.

There are many variations of the RWS tarot deck, such as the Radiant Rider-Waite or the Giant Rider-Waite. These variations differ in their size or coloring, but the imagery is the same. I use the Universal Waite Tarot and I highly recommend this deck, particularly for a Tarot beginner.

Read my review of the Rider-Waite tarot deck, to find out more about this deck.

If the Rider-Waite tarot deck does not appeal to you, there are other excellent decks to learn with. The Hanson-Roberts Tarot is another good deck for the tarot beginner. beginners-tarot-deckThe imagery closely follows the Rider-Waite deck, but some feel that the artwork is more likeable – it really just depends on your personal tastes.

Nearly every Tarot deck comes with its own little white book (LWB) – a tiny booklet outlining the basic meanings for each card. Some LWB’s even include a basic tarot spread or two. But for further understanding and learning, it is best to have a more detailed tarot book on hand…

Great Books for the Tarot Beginner

magical-courseThe first Tarot book I ever read was A Magical Course in Tarot by Michele Morgan and it has remained one of my favorites.

This book covers the basics of Tarot reading in a fresh, inspiring manner that will get you excited about learning Tarot.

The author teaches you how to tap into your intuition to read the cards, so you aren’t just relying on memorizing the card meanings. This book is enjoyable and easy to read, making the Tarot seem very learn-able without taking the magic and mystery out of it.


learning the tarotAnother great Tarot book for beginners is Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners by Joan Bunning.

This book is packed with information, tips and exercises and presents learning the Tarot in a very logical, well laid out manner. This is one of those books that you will refer back to again and again, even after you have mastered the Tarot.

Please visit my Tarot Shop to see some of my other recommended Tarot books and decks.

Back to Ask Kate! to see more Q & A’s

55 thoughts on “What Tarot decks and books do you recommend for an absolute Tarot beginner?”

  1. Hi Kate . I use several sites for confirmation and you were on target for me . I been a reader for 10 years and we are always learning . I have my clients and friends shuffle the card until their energy tell them to stop . Then spread the cards out over their heart and close their eyes for a few minutes thinking about whats going on in their lives and then try to shuffle the cards again and then cut them into 3 piles and I use the 10 card celtic spread .. From the Sarah Bartlett Tarot bible , then try t o shuffle the cards again and then , they read their own and some say they cant do it is so on target spooky . but it is the best read and I do not intervene and get in their business .

  2. Hello!

    I’m very new to tarot and I tried using the RWS deck, but the cards just didn’t speak to me. I tried for a while but it just never sat right with me :/

    I made my own deck, and those are working really well for me. They make more sense and I just have a better relationship with them. They’re very simple, they just have the suit, the card, and a quote that relates to the meaning. Do you have any suggestions for me?

    Thank you,

  3. Hello! I wanted to start with Tarot but I dont know were to buy a deck and I can’t buy online too, I wanted to know if it is okay for me to make my own Tarot deck, that’s all, nice blog and luck for you .:)

      1. I actually made my own too, because I couldn’t purchase one, and I think you feel more connected to something you made rather than bought, it’s not perfect but I love it, thanks for the article =)

  4. Hi! I am new to tarot, and I’m deciding on my first deck. I’ve heard from multiple sources that the RWS deck should be the first one to get, but there’s another deck I really love. Do you think it would hinder my learning of tarot to get a not-so-simple deck (though it comes with a guide) that I really love first? Or should I just stick to the basics?

    1. Hi Saule! Welcome!
      It may hinder your Tarot studies if you find that deck to be hard to work with and get discouraged. I really don’t recommend learning Tarot on a complicated deck that differs greatly from the Rider Waite deck. Start with the Rider Waite deck and learn that first, then move on to more complex decks. Or, you could get both decks and learn them side by side. That’s kind of what I did when I first began learning. Good luck and let me know how it goes 🙂

  5. I’m looking for a tarot card deck that I’ve recently had my cards read with as they really made sense for me but cannot find on internet. They were small sized and I think the reader said they were called Fun tarot cards but I just can’t find them. He tried to find out from his supplier but couldn’t. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you. Sylv

  6. This is Kuldp, I want to learn tarot card reading but not able to get suitable book of teacher so how can i lean, moreover from where I will get the the cards. please let me know if any specific book is availabe on line or can i get free download of the book in pdf . will it be enough to learn from the book

  7. Hi, Kate! thank you for your helpful information about tarot!
    I have been trying to seek my first deck and I think I’m more obsessed with ‘the after tarot’ deck than RWS. but I wonder it would going to be good for the absolute beginner like me.
    is ‘the after tarot’ shows and focuses more on further thing?

    best wishes xxx

  8. Hi Kate. I have just received a tarot deck for my birthday and I’m really interested in learning the spreads and card meanings but don’t have the money for any books. Are books a necessity or can I use the internet to learn about readings?

    1. That’s great you’ve got a new Tarot deck! You don’t need books to learn – they are just nice to have. You can definitely learn a lot from the internet. For learning Tarot, I recommend my own website as well as biddytarot.com, benebell Wen’s blog: https://benebellwen.com/tarot-readings/ and http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/ – there’s more great tarot resources out there, those are just the one’s that pop into my head right now. Good luck 🙂

  9. I want to buy tarot cards & a book please recommd I have gone through but still Iam a beginner so Iam anxious & from amozon its ok????

    1. My first deck was the Angel Tarot Cards by Doreen Virtue & Radleigh Valentine. They are amazing! Super simple to understand & they come with a guidebook to help you out even more, on top of it all they’re really beautiful! Hope this helps!

  10. hi

    I am new at tarot reading and start to learn from now anyway how can I start to learn tarot…….who can be taeot card reader any person or only choosen one??? I m asking thia cuz I read that people with pyscic ability only can do this and plz gimme proper guidance to read tarot cards….

    thank you

    1. Hi Chirag,
      Anyone can read Tarot – you don’t have to be psychic or have any special abilities. I think learning tarot is easiest if you are a visually oriented person and if you are imaginative – but really anyone can learn Tarot. So best of luck to you, I hope you have fun with your cards 🙂

  11. Michele’s book is one of my all-time favorites, and the Hanson-Roberts was my first deck. Happy to see someone recommending them!

  12. A few (possibly) quick questions: I’m new to Tarot, but I own several decks and oracle card sets. Do you suggest that I start learning with one deck in particular (to bond and build a relationship with it), or is it “okay” to work with my variety of decks as I learn?

    If I work with varying decks, what is the best way to discern which deck to work with on a particular day?

    Do you use a deck only for your readings you perform for other people versus readings just for yourself?

    Look forward to your thoughts, and thanks!

    1. Hi Carol,
      Great questions!
      I think if you stick to one deck as your learning, your readings will be more focused and clear. However, this isn’t what I did! So really, it depends on your personality and what feels best to you. I typically work with one or two decks for a month or so and then switch to a new deck when I get bored. I decide which deck to work with based on what deck I’m drawn to – so that’s pretty simple.
      I used to always have one deck that I only used for myself and certain decks I used for others, but I’ve become relaxed over the years. Again, do what feels best for you. It may feel extra special to have one deck just for you and then a “public” deck for reading for others.
      Good luck to you!!! Let me know how your learning journey goes 🙂

      1. Thanks for such a quick response!

        I’ve been working with your audio file “reading cards with light and love” (I think that is the name of it), and for three days straight I’ve gotten very accurate messages from my cards. I’ve never stuck with learning tarot for three days straight (ha!) with all the various books and sites I’ve read, but your site helps a newbie like me take baby steps with the tarot and thereby stick with it. Thanks for gently mentoring us all. : )

  13. Hi Kate! Thank you for your wonderful website and blog! I am new to tarot and you have helped me so much. For my first ever tarot deck I bought the Robin Wood deck. I have been getting weird readings, like really negative. I have been taking a card or two a day to study and enter in my tarot journal. When I actually ask the deck a question, I usually don’t like the answer. I am new and the deck is new so maybe I need to give the deck more time to get synced up with me??

    1. Hi Elizabeth!
      I’m so happy that you’ve been enjoying my site and that it’s helped you with learning tarot 🙂
      I had a very similar experience with that deck – although for me, I used it for years and then suddenly I started getting really negative readings all the time. I retired the deck for about a year and then brought it back out again and it was fine. So what I would do is cleanse your deck – leave it on your windowsill overnight during a full moon or hold it in your hands and imagine your energy moving through the cards and cleansing them. Or, place it in a bag full of crystals (especially quartz) for a few days, with the intention that the crystals will clear the deck.
      OR, for a really fun exercise, try asking your deck why it’s giving you crappy readings and see what comes up.
      Good luck 🙂

  14. Thank you for your recommendations, I will be sure to choose from the ones listed so that I can learn easier; for me I have no one to ask as I am the only one in my family on the path so this was really helpful.

  15. I was wondering if the Tarot Goddess Guidance Card Deck Fortune Beginner Advanced Telling Virtue Oracle would be good for me to start with

  16. Thanks so much for recommending these books. There are so many to choose from that it’s hard to know which is best. I’m about halfway through the episodes of your podcast Menage a Tarot and love it!! Keep up the great work!

  17. Kate, I was wondering if you had any experience with”The Tarot Revealed” by Paul Fenton-Smith. I checked it out from my local library and wondered if you thought it was a good resource for a complete novice. (I don’t even have a deck, yet. Although I hope to have the Universal Waite ordered soon.) Thanks in advance for assistance. Your site is a great resource for me.

    1. Hi Tessa,
      I haven’t seen this book in person, so I can’t give my opinion. But I checked it out on amazon and it looks pretty good – it got some good reviews. If it holds your attention and gets you excited about Tarot I would say it’s a good book 🙂
      And I’m really pleased that my site’s been helpful for you!

  18. Hi Kate, I have the book “The Tarot Bible” by Sarah Bartlett is this a good book to learn tarot meanings and spreads?

    1. Hi Amanda,
      I don’t have this book myself and I don’t think I’ve seen it in person, so I can’t really say. I just looked at it on Amazon and it looks pretty good. Let me know how you find it 🙂

  19. Hi Kate! I want to learn tarot cards but as to practise them for the first time I am thinking to print rider waite tarot card deck images and paste on paper and use them,….. will it work? I now it is something silly, but pls reply.

  20. Hi Kate,
    I’ve been out of touch with the tarot cards for a very
    long time and I was wondering if you can recommend
    a book I can pick up to refresh my mind on the readings.

    1. Hi Kiki,
      A book that I really loved is called Tarot Wisdom by Rachel Pollack. It goes into each card in depth. It’s not really “light reading”, in fact its kind of for Tarot geeks, but I loved it. Another book you may enjoy is “21 ways to read a tarot card” by Mary K Greer.
      Good luck!

      1. Thank you for the advice. But, some one told me that I should not use tarot cards as it brings negative energies and bad souls. They suggested me to use angel cards. Is that true & is there any difference between them. And kindly please suggest me any site from which I can learn angel cards like you have site of tarot. Kindly, reply.

        1. Hi Pratyush,
          Tarot does not attract negative energies and “bad souls” – people who don’t know much about Tarot often say stuff like that simply because they don’t understand what Tarot is. I actually just discussed this topic on the Menage A Tarot podcast and you can listen to the episode right here: http://hwcdn.libsyn.com/p/a/6/6/a66c39851fb41dc2/05_Episode_5__In_Guides_We_Trust.mp3?c_id=7924454&expiration=1417051855&hwt=1fc43b430bf4547b8560f01e378f97b4 I think it will clear a few things up for you 🙂
          The difference between Angel Cards and Tarot is that Tarot follows a specific structure and Angel Cards are like Oracle cards – they don’t follow any structure. I wrote an article explaining this further and you can read it right here: https://daily-tarot-girl.com/2013/08/31/whats-the-difference-between-tarot-oracle-cards/
          But if you prefer angel cards to Tarot and want to learn to read them, Doreen Virtue teaches a good course: http://www.hayhouse.com/become-a-certified-angel-card-reader-course

          Good luck 🙂

  21. I recently bought a deck of French tarot cards. In my ignorance, I assumed that “French” referred to the country of origin, and not that it was a separate form of tarot. The graphics are that of the Ducale deck. Can these still be used for divination even without the typical major arcana depictions?

  22. Gitanjli Hazuria

    Hi Kate!
    I was browsing through your amazing site and I found this article on ‘beginners Books’ for tarot reading. I immediately ordered my copy of Tarot for Yourself by Mary K Greer. Thanks a lot for your recommendation, Your site has taken my understanding of Tarot to a whole new level, I felt it was precisely what I needed, being a keen learner of Tarot and Oracle Card Readings for myself and for professional readings.
    Once again, Thank You!

    1. Gitanjli, that is so lovely to hear!!! I am delighted that my site has enhanced your understanding of the Tarot 🙂
      I hope you enjoy “Tarot for Yourself” – its definitely one of my favorite Tarot books.

  23. What do you make of the Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Deck? I didn’t see any mention of it on your site, and I really enjoy the illustrations by Frieda Harris. Any likes or dislikes you want to share?

    1. I have the Thoth deck (a mini version) and want to get the bigger size. It was actually one of the first decks I bought, along with the Rider-waite deck and The Secret Tarot. I worked with it quite a bit when I was first getting into Tarot, but I haven’t worked with it for a while. I really like that deck – LOVE the artwork – I haven’t used it in ages, mainly because I have so many decks, I forget to use all of them! Thanks for reminding me to break it out again 🙂

  24. Romantically Inept

    Dear Kate,
    I would like to seek for your advice given your numerous experiences in tarot reading. I am interested in tarot and would like to purchase a beginner book. Which book would you recommend for someone absolutely new to the art with zero knowledge on any meanings of the card: Mary Greer’s Tarot For Your Self, 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card, or A Magical Course in Tarot. Please advice, Kate! 🙂 Thanks.

    1. I would go with A Magical Course in Tarot to start with as it gives you a really good grasp of the card meanings and how to use your intuition. Good luck and have fun!!!!

      1. Romantically Inept

        Thank you for your helpful advice! Really appreciate it… You are so nice and I absolutely love this beautiful website of yours 🙂 Wish me luck on this Tarot Journey…

  25. StoneGypsy Trina

    Robin Wood Tarot is a great tarot deck for beginners with the Waite theme. The book Tarot Plain & Simple is a great book for beginners with numerology, astrology, etc so that the beginner is able to understand.

    1. I agree – The Robin Wood was actually the main Tarot deck that I learned on. I should add it to this article, its such a wonderful deck.

  26. Hi. Hope you are well!
    Is there a specific book that you recommend to help people actually read the cards in a reading? I know the meanings of the cards backward and forward, but sometimes I have a hard time “reading” the cards as a story in the Celtic Cross. All the books I look at don’t seem to explain that part of the process. Any thoughts? Thanks in advance!

    1. I was racking my brain last night over your question and you are right – most books don’t really explain this well. One book you may find helpful is Tarot for Your Self : A Workbook for Personal Transformation Second EditionTarot for Yourself (Mary K. Greer), as there is a chapter on this topic. I also have a book by Joan Bunning called Learning Tarot SpreadsLearning Tarot Spreads. I have this book but haven’t read it yet – she teaches how to use and design spreads, but she doesn’t cover the celtic cross. I made a video a while back on how to read the cards in the celtic cross spread: https://daily-tarot-girl.com/tarot-card-spreads/celtic-cross-spread/. Hopefully that answers your question!
      Good luck with this and let me know if you find any good books on this topic.

      1. I will let you know if I find any good books on the “reading” topic. Also, yes, I’ve seen your fabulous video on the Celtic Cross – believe me, I’ve watched it numerous times and LOVE IT!!!! YOU ARE AWESOME, GIRL!

  27. If you don’t have the chance to order Joan Bunning’s book, you can download a html version of it from her official site, a practical way to keep it handy on your pc, and it doesn’t demand internet connection. I also fell in love with “Who Are You in the Tarot” and “Tarot For Your Self” by Mary K. Greer, in my opinion these are also great books for beginners after they follow your advice and get along with the imagery and meanings. These books introduced me to discover more spiritual insight as a beginner. Thank you for this post, many blessings. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the tip about Joan’s book! I haven’t checked out “Who are you in the Tarot” but I do have “Tarot for yourself” and I agree, its a great book – I have had so much fun with that one simply because it is so interactive – I would also highly recommend it for beginners.

      1. Hey Um Kate,
        I was wondering if you would reccomend Tarot Goddess Guidance Card Deck Fortune Beginner Advanced Telling Virtue Oracle deck for me? I want something that is simple and easy to read that I can tap into by using my gifts with them.
        – Lynn

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