One Card

Choosing Decks for One-Card Readings

One of the goals of a one-card reading is to pull as much as possible out of a single card and give the client a thorough reading on their question. Having tried out many different decks on the FreeTarot Network, it seems to me that some decks are more conducive to deep and comprehensive readings than others. Here are some thoughts on choosing a deck for a one-card reading.

1. Any deck you are just learning. When first learning a deck, we see it with new eyes. We tend to look more carefully at every detail and puzzle over the ones that are unfamiliar. We may carefully read the description in the book and add the author's thoughts to our own. All of this gives us a lot more to talk about than a tried-and-true familiar deck, in which the images are so familiar that it is harder to look at them with fresh eyes and think of a lot to say about it. We also may become set with time in our interpretations of cards that are very familiar, but may be more open and receptive to alternative interpretations with new cards. I often read with new decks on FTN for this reason - I feel I learn each card more thoroughly than if I were doing a larger reading.

2. Any deck that is rich in detail or symbolism. Some decks are very sparse in symbolism, while others are just packed - the closer you look, the more you see. Because tarot reading is very visual, the more you see the more there is to say about what is happening and how the card relates to the client's question. Also, having a great deal of detail helps with the intuitive process - it is often difficult to have a sense of context with a one-card reading or to know which of many possible interpretations is the correct one. Many readers have noticed that in this situation, a specific detail or symbol on the card may seem to jump out at them and give them a clue as to what is going on or what should be emphasized in the reading. Some of the decks I use that have a lot of detail are Wheel of Change, Spiral, and Navigators of the Mystic Sea.

3. Theme or Story decks. Certain decks are designed to represent a large body of mythology, history, culture, or lore and in these decks each card may have its more traditional meaning as well as mythological story, character, or idea that it represents. These decks do double-duty in one-card readings, as it may be either the traditional meaning, the unusual artwork, or the story or association behind the card that applies to the client's situation - sometimes all three. For this reason, these decks can sometimes be unwieldy for large readings. Some decks like this include Arthurian Legends, Inner Child, the new Whimsical Tarot, Herbal Tarot, Ancestral Path and Lord of the Rings.

4. Round decks. The advantage of round decks is not in the card art or symbolism, but in the added information that the orientation of the card gives you. Rather than just upright or reversed, there are entire 360 degrees worth of shades of meaning. Depending on the system you use, you not only get the card meaning, but you can tell the client whether the energy is forward-looking or past-looking (and to what degree), waxing or waning, aggressive or passive, or any other system you want to use. This often adds a whole separate section to the reading, and can even be used for timing along with a phases of the moon or seasonal approach to the orientation. To learn more about this, see the last section of the" Reading Reversals" lesson on the Articles page.

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