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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Tarot Decks: The Radiant Rider-Waite

There came a point after my friend moved to Washington State that I realized I probably wouldn’t be getting back the Tarot deck that I had let him borrow. I was more or less indifferent toward it, and thus went out to buy a new Tarot deck so I could continue learning.

That deck was the deck I will be discussing today: The Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot.

It is one of the most widely-known Tarot decks, and it has been influential in shaping modern decks. The Rider-Waite Tarot deck was originally published in 1910, and gets its name from the people who worked on it, A.E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, and the company that published it, the Rider Company. Another name the deck is known by is the Rider Waite Smith. There are several versions of it as well as Rider-Waite "clone" decks. To my knowledge it is the Universal Waite that is normally featured in Tarot books. US Games currently holds the copyright to the Rider-Waite Tarot.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom:  Radiant Rider-Waite, Gilded Tarot,
Tarot of the MermaidsLlewellyn Tarot,
Black Cats Tarot, and Hanson Roberts Tarot

As far as appearance is concerned, it is pretty much seems to be straight across the board with the Rider Waite. My deck differs from some of the others in that it has more vibrant colors. (It is also the coloring that sets the Universal Waite apart from the original Rider-Waite, as it mostly shares the original’s line work but was otherwise given more “sophisticated” colors.) Another difference that I have seen between the Radiant Rider-Waite and the Universal Waite is the writing on the cards. Whereas the Universal Waite’s font looks very similar to handwriting, the Radiant Rider-Waite’s does not. This was my first indicator that there was any difference in Rider-Waite decks, though I’ll admit that when I first noticed this, it was in the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tarot Spreads and I thought they had just fiddled with the deck in some editing program! I was, as they like to say on Reddit, a "filthy casual"!

I can confidently say that this was a easy deck to connect to, especially when I’ve owned a couple decks that I didn’t connect to right away. This deck came in a box with its Little White Book (as opposed to a kit with a full-sized book). Since I was still learning Tarot when I got this deck, I already had another source of information on Tarot. I tended to use the key in the back of the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tarot Spreads when I needed to look up card meanings, and usually only used the Little White Book for a "second opinion".

Radiant Rider-Waite's Little White Book

This deck always gave me good results in readings. In fact it used to be the only deck I used! It has always been accurate for me, and I still continued to use it a lot even after getting my fourth deck, The Gilded Tarot. I haven’t used it in a few months, though; after I started growing my collection I’ve used it a bit less. Since Rider-Waite is the standard deck, it tends to get a bit boring at times.

The Rider-Waite deck is a deck that I will always recommend to people just starting out in Tarot. As I stated above, its being the standard deck means that it will show up in a lot of books, so it is, in my opinion, a good deck to start out with. Being the standard deck also makes it easy to transition to other decks, as they will in some way be based on this deck. So, while I think it’s great to branch out and get a feel for other decks, I think at least one version of the Rider-Waite should be in a Tarotist’s collection.

Next week I'll be talking about the Black Cats Tarot. If you'd like to see the Radiant Rider-Waite in action, you can just head over here!

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