When I was randomly browsing the list of more than 1000 tarot decks on this site, I couldn't help thinking about Amazon.com, for some reason. It's easy to type "tarot" into Amazon's site search, and instantly gratifying, since you'll be offered a long list of books and other paraphernalia as well as the decks, plus nice cover photos and of course, prices too. But somehow, it's like browsing medieval manuscripts in a Woolworth store, there's nothing wrong with the venue or the products, but somehow they don't really belong together. Power sellers such as Amazon are fantastic once you reach the buying, or considering-buying stage, but I think it's always better to start with a site that specializes in the area you're interested in.
Aeclectic Tarot offers the aforementioned list of decks, which seems a little dated but still features most people's top picks. Along with illustrated listings, there are reviews from experienced readers that might help you decide, and some fair images of cards. The site is very simple in design and function, hasn't ever changed as far as I can recall, and does the job without drowning you in vague New Age mysticism. I'd like to see more card images alongside reviews, but I can understand why the publishers wouldn't be too happy with giving everything away up front.
If you're new to the Tarot, there are sections here which introduce you to reading and show you a wide range of layouts, plus there are books, e-books, software and more, reviewed and rated. There's even a community-designed tarot deck, with which you can get an instant free one- or three-card computerized reading if you want some guidance right now.
This is all considerably enhanced by the addition of a busy community forum, also at www.tarotforum.net.
Tarot cards in the modern western world serve two main purposes: as practical tools for reading and working both in the field of professional or amateur divination and psychology, and as collectors items. Given the huge and ever-increasing number of decks, and escalating prices, they make a fascinating collection of artwork that has real value; the most collectible limited edition decks from the designers can achieve prices well into three figures, while even mass produced packs aren't cheap. Not that they deserve to be; the quality of the artwork in some decks is outstanding. But in a world increasingly independent of paper and card products, such physical items as decks of cards and even books are becoming seen as expensive luxuries from a past age.
Speaking of which, nobody knows where the tarot came from, or when, and it's unlikely we will ever know. That's a part of the charm and mystery of it all. And despite the religious and perhaps moral objections of some people, the Tarot is in no way related to any sort of 'dark arts' or black magic, and is not even used to 'tell fortunes' by most readers. These misconceptions, deliberate or otherwise, have given the Tarot an air of magic but not in a good, healthy way, which is the way in which it is widely used by readers and psychologists around the world. If you want to learn more, Aeclectic and its community forum are excellent first resources.
On the other hand, if you cross my palm with silver (sorry, no credit cards) I'd be happy to tell you more, anytime.
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