Yes. If you speak to most Tarot enthusiasts, you'll find nearly all of them have a small library of decks. Over the years I have owned:
- The Tarot de Marseilles (as I mentioned in my last post)
- The Rider Waite Smith (as I also mentioned in my last post)
- The Thoth
- The Gilded Tarot
- The Robin Wood Tarot
- The Mystic Faerie Tarot
- The Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg
- The Dragon Tarot
- The Feng Shui Tarot
- The Victorian Romantic Tarot
I don't have all of these anymore! Again, like I mentioned in the previous question, my Tarot de Marseilles deck got trashed and I gave my Rider Waite Smith deck away. Out of the rest on this list, I still own the Thoth, the Gilded, the Robin Wood, the St. Petersburg, the Feng Shui, and the Victorian Romantic decks, though I don't read with all of them.
A moment to talk about the decks I've since gifted away. The first is Peter Pracownik's Dragon Tarot. Other fantasy nerds (and note the use of other, there: I count myself among the benerded) went apeshit over this deck. I bought it mostly because it was different. It ended up being quite popular with the people I was reading for online at the time, but eventually I found the art a bit dull, inaccessible, and even juvenile. Sure, one air-brushed picture of a dragon in your bedroom when you're 14 is pretty cool, but a whole Tarot deck full of them (and it is almost nothing but blue, black, purple, and white, over and over again, with some red thrown in with the Wands and some green thrown in with the Coins) is overkill. Never mind that much of the art seems fairly disconnected from its RWS origins, almost like Pracownik decided to slap some Cups and Coins on his pre-existing art and call it a Tarot deck:
Sure I had the basic meanings and keywords of the cards (according to the RWS canon) I could draw on, but I found it impossible to extract any meaning or hint from the art whatsoever. After a couple years, I admitted to myself that this deck was a mistake and gave it away.
The next deck I released back into the wild was the Mystic Faerie deck. The art was much better than the Dragon Tarot. Vibrant colors, expressive figures, and a clear intent to actually convey meaning in every image instead of just HERE'S ANOTHER DRAGON:
The Art Nouveau style is also appropriate and a nice nod to Pamela Coleman-Smith's original art. What was cute (and clever) about this particular deck is that the images in each suit, from Ace to 10, tell a story of sorts, with the same figures undergoing different trials and eventually succeeding or failing—without messing around with the meanings of the cards. It's subtle at first, but then once you notice it (or until you get to that bit of the companion book), you can't unsee it. Ravenscroft's art is really quite lovely and I never hit a wall with it the same way I did with Pracownik's, but it became apparent that Fae imagery and folklore isn't really "my thing" either, so I sent this deck off to another owner.
I didn't take all of my decks with me during my trans-Atlantic move: the Gilded Tarot, the Feng Shui Tarot, and the Robin Wood Tarot are among the things I still have to pack up in the US. Out of those three, I haven't read with the Feng Shui in YEARS. It would probably be better off in the hands of someone more enthusiastic about Feng Shui and I Ching than I am now (I was at one point, but am no longer), but I can't bear to part with it until I know that I can find prints of the Major Arcana cards. The years have not dimmed my appreciation for the art in this deck.
(The Connollys renamed Death "Transition" in this deck.)
But as far as Tarot goes....well. This deck went to some weird places. The suits all have different names, instead referred to by an animal with the appropriate elemental association: Swords are White Tiger, Wands are Black Tortoise, Pentacles are Green Dragon, and Cups are Red Phoenix. I'm not schooled enough in Chinese metaphysics enough to argue whether these are correct associations, but it can be quite disorienting when you begin to read with this deck, especially if you're not well-versed with the elemental associations of Feng Shui (never mind that when you try to shoehorn a 5-element tradition into a 4-element system, things get wonky). People appear only in the Majors and in the Courts; on the pips, the image features just the animal in question, a setting that supposedly has some kind of specific Feng Shui energy, and a trigram in the bottom right. Like the Dragon Tarot, the Feng Shui Tarot is not a deck where you can easily intuit a card's meaning; I often found myself using the Tarot keywords (and my copy of the I Ching) to try to understand what was going on in the picture, to be honest. The art, at least, is lovely. I love the Majors but really the whole deck is some eye candy.
The Gilded and the Robin Wood I've used from time to time. I was in love with Robin Wood's art the moment I saw it in Tarot, Plain and Simple; I like it a little less now, but it's still lovely. The same goes for the Gilded Tarot.
I save the Thoth for special occasions: readings for solar returns, the new year, and so on. I use the St. Petersburg Tarot for "the little things," you could say: day-to-day advice and frustrations. Soon after I purchased The Victorian Romantic deck I put it aside for special Story Duty so I haven't had too much of a chance to read with it yet.
Out of those five that I still read with, I'm not sure which one I would say is my favorite. I do love the miniature style of the St. Petersburg, though the images can often lack clarity. The Victorian Romantic has beauty as well as clarity. But then, those two are also my newest decks; who knows how I'll feel ten years from now!