There are so many beautiful and amazing decks to choose from when selecting Tarot. And I will specify Tarot cards here instead of Oracle cards because considering the implications of utilizing the esoteric symbols and wisdoms of the Tarot tradition. The variety among various cartomantic, divinatory, and oracular decks is wonderfully expansive. I, myself, have a vast collection, though it hasn’t grown too much in the past few years. But, with seeing so many new decks on the market in the past decade of Tarot and Oracle cards, I know my collection will be expanding. With that, I’d like to offer a brief rundown of my personal “Top 3 Tarot decks” which I use consistently for myself and clients. They embody, currently, my go-to decks – always out and ready for use should the need or inspiration arise. At the end, I will have links to further research/purchase them if you’d like to try them out.
Number 1 on my list is The Sacred Circle Tarot by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2001). I absolutely love the Celtic imagery and symbolism in this deck, bringing a depth of spiritual exploration from both traditional Tarot and Celtic shamanic practice. Within that there is a blend of mythology and Celtic history, featuring characters and sacred sites in the imagery of the cards. And, often, in the simplicity of the images is the most profound statement.
For example, the card’s title symbol would be apparent and depicted with a plant or herb associated with a geographical area, spiritual energy, and/or medicinal energy, and the background would then feature a particular sacred site or historical landmark that portrays the card’s energy. This blend of symbols and energies enhances, for me, a card’s mystical or philosophical insight and definitive, practical clarity. Like the other two decks, most cards – if not all – do feature a sacred tree, plant, or medicinal herb which are known by Celtic shamanic practitioners and/or common to the lexicon of other European herbalists and folklorists.
Further, to glean the true spirit and energies of the cards, the Guidebook with this deck is invaluable, especially in the early stages of “getting to know” the deck. Because it tells the stories of mythological and historical characters and places, it provides a history to the energies. Also, a unique feature of this deck is the Key Titles and order of the Major Arcana. There are connections that may correlate to traditional Tarot decks based on the Rider-Waite, however, the Major Arcana follows the journey of The Fool in Sacred Circle Tarot according to a Celtic alchemical initiation process. In this, I find that it adds an extra layer of meaning and usefulness to the process, mindset, and behaviors of an individual & their life experience which can provide powerful and practical insight.
The next one on my list is The Herb Crafter’s Tarot by Latisha Guthrie (US Games Systems, 2019). This beautiful Tarot deck is glowing with hand-drawn cards, each featuring various plants or herbs associated with the card’s energy by wildness or design and totally natural all the way. The variety of herbs, trees, and plants on these cards do have a distinctly Southwest North America feel to them that’s lovingly punctuated by a wise-woman tradition which thrives from that region.
This is likewise reflected in the Court Card titles of the Minor Arcana, describing feminine energies of those cards. Other feminine decks might title the Court Cards much like the Court of a Monarchy – Maiden or Daughter, Lady-in-Waiting, Princess, Queen – but The Herb Crafter’s Tarot of the wise-woman’s traditions simply states in Spanish a hierarchy of learning, passing on knowledge, and gaining experiential maturity with the Daughter, the feminine Warrior, the Mother, and the wise-woman Healer.
Each card’s plant symbolism, uses, and energies features into what we know from the esoteric wisdom of the Tarot, however this deck uniquely shows us ways in which we learn from, handle, and grow from these energies & our experiences of them on a very practical level. Aside from messages and symbolism in each card, which does align wonderfully with esoteric Tarot wisdom as well, we are given an opportunity to craft and work with the plant in question, to truly and practically work with the energies of both the Tarot card and the plant-wisdom.
This deck has become my go-to when I’m taking a closer look at my physical spaces, my home and relationship to my environment, and when there is a need or request for healing or harmonizing in someone who has sought my service. This deck’s energies are gentle and nurturing, compassionately cutting through some of the most painful wounds and allowing them to transform and heal cleanly and clearly. Of course, that’s my interpretation, which has come from using this deck for myself and others and recognizing in a more obvious way than before how the deck flowing through the Reader and the client’s energy & mindset truly influences the resonance with that deck. This deck taps into my nature-garden-energy, craft-energy, and healer-energy on a deep but gentle level. Perhaps you’ll find it deeply soothing and healing as well.
And, finally, last but not least is Number 3: The Herbal Tarot by (). I love this deck because it has similar imagery and artwork to the traditional Rider-Waite; however every card has an herb, plant, or tree associated with it. All of the herbs and plants featured are common, especially among the temperate regions of North America and Europe.
Some of these associations are similar to those in The Herb Crafter’s Tarot (which is, incidentally, a more recent publication), insofar as both resources are exploring the energies of common plants and herbs for well-being, however both of them are tapping into different energies of each herb/plant associated with a Tarot card’s inherent wisdom. For example, Garlic features in both decks. In The Herbal Tarot, Garlic is pictured on The Tower card of the Major Arcana for it’s cleansing and purifying properties. In The Herb Crafter’s Tarot, Garlic is featured on the Strength card for its immune boosting and fortifying properties.
The Herbal Tarot’s traditional associations of herbs and plants, mostly in North American and European areas (though many world-wide), to the esoteric symbols of the Tarot are profound. The Guidebook provides detailed insight to both Tarot meanings/energies and the practical homeopathic side of herbalism while building a bridge between our thoughts and feelings in various experiences to our physical actions or inactions given our circumstances.
Unique to this deck, of the three we have reviewed, is that it does not require the boxset Guidebook but is also sold individually (like many Tarot decks) with a smaller, abbreviated version of the guidebook describing meanings, references, & keywords. If, however, you are a naturopath, alterative health practitioner, herbalist, or have interest or engage with flower essences or homeopathy of any kind, I would encourage you to get the boxset with the Guidebook for a deeper dive into the homeopathic medicinals and supplements.
I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my favorite decks as I did sharing with you how great I think they are. They are all unique and different but have some common threads. This is my favorite thing about Tarot, the variety of decks available, and life as a whole… everything is different and, once we find that common thread, we reveal how the uniqueness and differences actually make that common-thread stand-out more, shine more, glow more, grow more… everything. It’s beautiful!
Find non-affiliate links to these featured decks below! And, if you have decks you like, decks you don’t like, or decks you’re curious to know more about, please respectfully drop a comment or send an email and I will gladly look into doing a regular, more well-rounded, review.
Peace & blessings!
Always my number 1 – Sacred Circle Tarot (boxset w/ guidebook) by Anna Franklin & Paul Mason (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2001 & 2014)
First Runner up – The Herbcrafter’s Tarot (boxset w/ guidebook) by Latisha Guthrie (US Games Systems, 2019)
Second Runner up – The Herbal Tarot (individual deck and separate guidebook) by Michael Tierra & Candis Cantin (US Games Systems, 1993 & 2002)