What are the most powerful and popular Tarot decks?

This is a frequently asked question – as Tarot decks are fundamentally very similar, I personally question if one is more “powerful” than the next. However, there is a lot to be said for the shared cosmic energy that builds up when a specific type of Tarot deck is embraced by many skilled occultists and magicians. There is also something to be said for the power of the symbolism; different Tarot decks have different symbolism, so this may impact the direction they go as far as the Tarot reading is concerned.

The Rider-Waite deck is clearly the most popular Tarot deck. Colored with distinctive designs and heavily using primary colors, it is full of brightness and contrast. The depictions on the cards are reminiscent of their symbolic meanings to some extent, but with a few major exceptions. Cards such as “The Devil” or “Death” are often misinterpreted in their cultural context as signs of evil or bad, whereas they actually have more benign meanings. This deck was commissioned by A.E. Waite, a skilled occultist and member of the Golden Dawn group. Each card is filled with symbolism appropriate to Western occultism; often times it goes unnoticed to the untrained eye. As what is arguably the most popular and prolific Tarot deck, the Rider-Waite deck is also the one you will typically see in movies, on television, and in other sources of popular culture.

A second common deck, which can also be attested to as an accurate and powerful method of divination, is the Thoth deck. The Thoth deck was developed by the famous occultist Aleister Crowley, and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris. The symbolism behind the Thoth deck is also reflective of Western occultism, but with specific references to Crowley’s insights on Egyptian occultism. Each card contains correspondences with astrological, geological, Kabbalistic, and numerological meanings.

The Hermetic Tarot, although not as popular as the aforementioned, is also worth mention. This Tarot is drawn in black and grey, with alternating thick and thin lines and extensive detail. Each card is full of Hermetic and alchemical symbolism. Not only does this provide easy access for Hermetic and spiritual alchemical interpretation, but it serves as a tool to help the initiate learn new symbolism. Therefore, this is a very powerful deck not only for its divination uses but also as a tool for instruction.