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Deck Recs for Writers

Updated: Aug 2

In the last decade that I have been working with the tarot, I have moved decks to the pinnacle position on my FAVORITE DECKS list umpteen times. The art, the history, and the mystery behind tarot cards have kept my interest and my patronage since my very first experience learning about them and using them to inspire my writing.

Along the way, I’ve spent a lot of time considering which decks work best when used from a storyteller’s point of view. While some tarot decks are beautiful, others are quirky, and some are downright unusual, each deck is a collection of art, and all art is subjective to the individual. As such, not all tarot decks have resonated with me for the purpose of my creative endeavors. However, three decks stand out amongst the hoard I own and work with, and in this post, I want to share them with you.

In this post, you will learn:

  • Which three decks I love the most as a writer and why

  • What about each deck I do NOT love and why

  • Which cards are my favorite in each deck

  • The average cost of each deck

  • Links where you can purchase them

PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT recommend buying these particular products on sites you do not recognize. Deck pirating is an offense to the artists and writers who put so much time and effort into their work. I think you and I both can appreciate what that entails. With this in mind, I have included links for purchasing from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and each deck’s direct publisher. Please consider these details while shopping.


The Smith-Waite Tarot Deck Borderless Edition by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

From the Publisher

Pamela Colman Smith's beloved tarot artwork, created in 1909 under the direction of Arthur E. Waite, is now presented in a borderless format for a more immersive reading experience. This 84-card deck includes four extra cards with reproduction samples of Pixie's non-tarot artwork, including two watercolor paintings “Catch Me" and “Duet"; the Lovers illustration from the play Deirdre; and an illustration from the sheet music for “Christmas Carol." The deck comes with an instruction booklet.

What I Love Most About this Deck

Without a doubt, this is my very favorite tarot deck. As mentioned in my previous post, even though the diversity I love so much about other decks is lacking in Pamela “Pixie” Colman Smith’s illustrations, using her original work makes me feel like I am supporting her, the artist, in some small way. An artist and writer who was extraordinarily undervalued and judged by her appearance because she looked so different from her white European peers, I feel a sense of protection over Pixie’s legacy, and after studying her biographies I have my own private speculation about her identity.

This version of her 1909 designs includes gorgeous jewel tone colors that are not harsh to the eye or glowing off the paper like other renditions, and the color extends all the way to the edges, uninterrupted by lined borders.

Lastly, I also really love that U.S. Games kept Pixie’s original handwritten titles and numerals on the cards. In nearly a decade of working with the tarot, I have purchased this deck five times. It’s that good. Although the cardstock is easy to shuffle and the size feels comfortable in my hands, the cards might be a little larger for smaller hands.

My favorite cards of the Major Arcana in this deck.

My favorite cards of the Minor Arcana in this deck.

What I DON’T Love About this Deck

The lack of diversity. That’s the only thing lacking in this deck.

What’s the Cost?

The Smith-Waite Tarot Deck Borderless Edition retails for around $24.


The Modern Witch Tarot by Lisa Sterle

From the Publisher

The strength of traditional tarot symbols combine with diverse bodies, up-to-the-minute fashion, and the strength and power of twenty-first-century witchcraft, where we make our own magic.

The 78 cards of the tarot deck are rich with meaning—archetypes like The Magician, The Empress, and The Chariot reflect our lived experience and are a mirror into the ways in which we interact with the world. Acclaimed artist Lisa Sterle takes these symbols into contemporary life with vibrant art that celebrates the diversity, excitement, and energy of the new kind of magic that is happening in this world. The Modern Witch Tarot Deck is the answer to your questions about the past, the present, and whatever the future may hold, and its empowering messages will help you take the next step toward whatever you desire.

What I Love Most About this Deck

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the representation of all people in this deck. No matter who you are, what your appearance, or how you identify, you are bound to see yourself within these cards. Gleaned from Pamela Colman Smith’s original tarot images, illustrator Lisa Sterle has reimagined the people and landscapes in a more modern, inclusive way. For me, these diverse details add more inclusivity when creating characters and world-building.

There is not enough time in the day to write how much I love the colors and lines in The Modern Witch Tarot deck. From the card backs, which are a version of haint blue I want to paint over my entire life, to the spectrum of skin tones, I adore this deck and I use it often.

Examples of the diversity and inclusion in this deck!

What I DON’T Love About this Deck

Although the cardstock is thick and sturdy, it can be tough to shuffle. I don’t have small hands, so I can imagine the cards might be difficult to work with for some. However, this detail, in my opinion, should NOT be a deterrent. There are easy ways of shuffling that any hand size can maneuver.

What’s the Cost?

The Modern Witch Tarot ranges from $22 to $27.


The Weiser Tarot by Weiser Books

From the Publisher

The Weiser Tarot is a new edition of the most popular and influential Tarot art ever created, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, first published in 1909. The cards have been newly repainted—while, of course, preserving Pamela Colman Smith’s original line art—creating a fresh, flowing aesthetic. Additionally, the cards provide Hebrew and astrological correspondences to the Major Arcana—not included in the original Rider-Waite-Smith deck—for those seekers who have interest in Qabalah and astrology. The accompanying book includes:

  • A brief history of the Tarot

  • A look at how the Rider-Waite-Smith deck came to be

  • The story behind the creation of The Weiser Tarot

  • Keywords for interpreting the cards

  • Tarot spreads, including a new “Ankh” spread created especially for The Weiser Tarot

  • An annotated list of recommended reading for further study

The Weiser Tarot was created to speak to your own personal Tarot needs and desires. Whether you are new to the Tarot or a seasoned card reader, you can use The Weiser Tarot for divination, fortune-telling, self-transformation, spellcasting, or any other purpose.

What I Love Most About this Deck

My newest “favorite” tarot deck, The Weiser Tarot, has taken Pamela Colman Smith’s artwork and reimagined it with a watercolor splash of vibrant colors and a spectrum of skin tones. Whereas in her original designs, all the individuals are white and predominantly cisgender, Weiser Books has gently revised Pixie’s figures to include varying shades of melanin and hair textures. As with The Modern Witch Tarot, every person working with this deck can find representation, and its diverse selection of figures extends the lens on character inspiration.

Examples of the diverse reimagining of skin tones.

What I DON’T Love About this Deck

Nothing. I cannot find a single detail that I do not love about this deck.

What’s the Cost?

The Weiser Tarot ranges from $20 to $23.


You’ve made your purchase. Now what?

  1. Explore your new deck. Sort through the cards, pulling out all the ones that resonate with you most.

  2. Make notes or journal about why you were drawn to those specific cards.

  3. If you know the tarot, how do the cards’ meanings align with where you are in this moment?

  4. If you do NOT know the tarot, learning the cards can be as easy as 1-2-3. In my printable and fillable guided resource, Tarot 1-2-3: Learn to Read the Cards Intuitively in Three Easy Steps, you can learn just that. Decide what the cards mean to you, make notes along the way, and consider those upturned reversals. BONUS! When you purchase Tarot 1-2-3, you will receive my Tarot Quick Reference for Storytellers, which includes images and one-word meanings for each card, upright AND reversed, curated to resonate from a writer’s perspective.

Prices subject to change without notice. All sales are final. No refunds. For the best results, open and use this document on your computer. Please remember to save your work!

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of literary, Southern Gothic, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative®, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. She holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, and she has worked as an instructional designer for nearly twenty years.

When she’s not writing fiction, Mandy enjoys the movies, theater, music, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, and binging The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to enhance creativity and foster wellness. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four sons, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.

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