Well wouldn't you know, it's Thursday again and we're back for another #tarotthursdaythree. And it is a bit like deja vu not just for the sudden passing of time but also because Alaina of Exploringlyyours.com is back with another question set. I'm actually really excited about these because they're all about one of my very favourite decks, the classic Rider Waite Smith. As much as I enjoyed answering these questions, I'm even more so looking forward to reading other's perspectives.
Today is also Pamela Coleman Smith's birthday so these questions are actually very timely. In honour of her artistry and vision, I offer you my answers under the cut. And I also would love to hear your thoughts on this classic - love it or hate it, I want to know!
1. How do you feel about the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS)?
I love it! It wasn't the first deck I acquired, but I did start working with it fairly early on in my practice. I've used many of the various editions (classic, universal, radiant, centennial) and tend to select other decks which are clones, or at least heavily inspired by the format, symbolism and interpretations. I'm not sure what else to say - I'm a traditionalist when it comes to this one!
2. What was your beginning deck?
The very first deck I ever owned or worked with was the Servants of the Light. I was much too young for this deck and struggled to wrap my head around the imagery or meanings. It's hard to say if a standard RWS deck would have been easier for me, but it wouldn't have been more difficult! The Servants of the Light is much more inspired by the Golden Dawn than RWS and while I love the Majors in it, I do not resonate at all with the minors. It was a valiant first effort though because I was only 10 and really didn't know anything about Tarot - except that I wanted to master it. Spoiler Alert: I did not master it.
P.S. The deck is now out of print but thanks to the miracle of the internet and kind friends on Instagram (it started with Ania, made it's way to Alaina and then to me - yay!), I was able to get this deck back in my life. I don't use it to read much, but I use the majors frequently on my altar.
3. Do all beginners need to start with the RWS (or clone), in your opinion? Why/why not?
No one NEEDS to do anything. With that being said, unless you have a really clear idea on what sort of imagery inspires your intuition, I typically do suggest this deck (or a clone) to start. Why? Because there is something about the movement, symbolism and clear imagery that weaves together like a story board in a way that, lets say, The Wild Unknown does not, in my opinion. Sorry to pick on you WU, I'm using you as the example because you're a gorgeous deck that I know a lot of newcomers flock to. The same could be said of many other decks, but again, this is my opinion. So while I think an abstract, minimal or unique deck is wonderful, if you aren't familiar with concepts like reading in flow or beyond the singular, I can see how these less traditional variations may get in the way of learning. But that's just me. I am sure there are plenty of people who will attest to flourishing just fine with a different starter deck. It really all comes down to knowing yourself; how you learn, process and intuit. Technically you could use Tarot without ever taking the traditional meanings into account and rely solely on intuition. It's not my way, but it's one of the many possibilities!
That's a wrap for this week - see ya'll next Thursday!