Tarot Talk: Why Decks Have Different “Personalities,” and What The Heck That Even Means

When I talk about my Prisma Visions tarot, I warn clients that it’s kind of a “rude deck.” It’s bold, it’s less likely to sugarcoat, and it’s the most likely one to point out a difficult situation without showing you the light at the end of the tunnel. I like to use it for situations clients inform me are already extremely difficult or on the heavier side, because then I know I’m getting an honest, raw depiction of the situation at hand.

This language isn’t uncommon amongst readers within the tarot community. It’s a “rude deck.” It’s a “sassy deck.” It’s got a “kind voice.”

Example of a Deck Interview Spread

In fact, when I get a new deck, I’m among the group of readers that likes to do what is called a “deck interview.” I welcome the new deck into my home and inventory, and like to get a feel for what kind of deck it is. What’s unique about its insights? Should I use the deck for career readings? Predictive readings? Love readings? All of the above?

To some, this is understandably weird. Here I am, having a conversation with my tarot deck as if it’s an actual person. And, after all, not all readers do this. So why do I do it? Do I genuinely believe this deck has a whole personality? A whole life?

Yes and no. Some readers do genuinely believe their decks have some sort of sentient life, that there’s just something that’s going on with them in a way that we don’t really understand. No judgement here. Tarot is weird, and it works in funny ways.

Strength, Prisma Visions Tarot
Strength, Rider Waite Tarot

Regardless, for myself and the majority, for a deck to have a personality typically means that we respond to the artwork of a deck in different ways. I see the Prisma Visions tarot as something darker, mysterious, mystical, and a bold depiction of the world and beyond. The card Strength, for example holds within it a balance between our souls and our physical bodies and carnal desires.

This is why there is often a lion being calmly held and embraced by a human depicted in the card; it is us when we are balanced, confident, and able to handle our physical bodies with grace and discipline. Prisma Visions emphasizes that lion, and so the artwork forces me to think about the sheer amount of literal strength and willpower it will take to tame it.

Is that the case for every Prisma Visions tarot deck? No, absolutely not, because not every reader is me, and will see, feel, and interpret the artwork in the same way. This is why my Prisma Visions deck has a different “personality” than yours — because we have different personalities.

Thus is the beauty of tarot. There is most definitely a universal meaning and association with each card, but I dislike the idea that there is a fixed reality behind it. Strength one day may look to me like embracing a wild lion, composing myself with grace and dignity. And another day Strength may look to me like facing a pack of wild lions. And to you, or another reader, or for that matter a different deck artist, Strength will be possibly none of those things, some of those things, or all of those things.

There is a time and a place for each of the personalities of my decks, just like how tarot itself depicts various stages of our lives in different times and places. Sometimes we need tough love, and sometimes we need our hand held as we tread forward. The variety of artwork, interpretations, and, yes, personality, within tarot is what makes the tool a beautiful one.

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