Before you start to give readings, you’ll need to choose your perfect tarot deck. There are quite literally hundreds to choose from, from the standard Rider-Waite deck sold by U.S. Games to the obscure decks, like the Gummy Bears deck that was available in Germany for less than a year.
Most new users select either the Rider-Waite or one of the unique new decks like the Tarot of the Witches, Tarot of the Cats, or Egyptian Tarot. Rider-Waite is popular because almost every tarot guide is written with it in mind, often describing the exact symbolism on each card which may or may not be there in other decks. But Rider-Waite is not for everyone.
Your tarot deck should appeal to you on a personal and spiritual level. If you have fallen in love with the Angel Tarot, or the Thoth Deck, by all means pick it up and learn it, not the Rider-Waite. Your deck is something that you tune to yourself. It will be somewhat more difficult to learn when the symbolism isn’t laid out for you, but you will learn.
Expose yourself to every possible deck. Visit a store that has real samples of the decks that you can hold if possible. Borders has been carrying a printed catalog that shows you each deck they carry; this is not really adequate for selecting your perfect deck, no more than buying it online would be. If you buy the cards and they don’t feel right, you’ve just wasted your money.
If none of the decks you look at is quite right, examine the almost decks. Are they colorful, ornate, beautiful, or more stark? If you’re in a good witchy store or another new age store that deals extensively with magick, take the decks you really like to the counter clerk. Chances are good that she’ll have a suggestion for another deck. Before allowing her to order one, though, make sure you won’t have to buy it if she does! You really need to look at them first.
When you find a deck that feels good to you, look at the images. Do they communicate their meaning to you easily? Do you think you’d have an easy time reading these cards?
Make sure your deck is a complete Tarot deck, with seventy-eight cards (22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana.) Also, make sure that both halves of the deck are equally easy for you to use. Are they easy for you to shuffle, or are they too big for your hands? Large cards are easier to read, harder to hold.
Over time, you’ll almost certainly find that you need multiple decks. I have two myself, a Rider-Waite and a Tarot of the New Vision, which shows the reverse side of the Rider-Waite images (for instance, the Magician has a monkey in the second tarot, tugging at his robe, which represents the Monkey Mind in each of us.) I use my second deck to explain the first when I have difficulty with a reading. Each tarot reader does things a little differently.
Finally, make sure you purchase an appropriate storage container or the materials to make one. Many readers store their cards in a silk scarf. I like the original box. I’ve known a few who prefer things like sandalwood boxes or other special containers. Again, use whatever makes you feel comfortable. Your personal feeling is, as always, your best guide.