There are a million different Tarot decks out there—everyone with their characteristics and energy. One has beautiful illustrations, another a spellbinding air to them, and some treasures have everything you could ever imagine. They are all magical in their way. But which one is the most commonly used?
The Rider-Waite Tarot deck (also called Rider Waite Smith or RWS), is according to 78% of tarot readers, the most commonly used Tarot deck of modern times. The Rider Waite deck is the gold standard of modern-day Tarot reading and many deck creators use the system.
The Rider Waite Tarot deck is well-recognized by most as it is often seen in popular TV shows and movies. Amongst Tarot readers and enthusiasts, the deck is the gold standard as many decks are influenced by the system and symbolism of the Rider Waite deck.
THE MOST COMMONLY USED TAROT DECK
According to most Tarot readers, the Rider Waite deck is the most commonly used deck of them all in modern-day practice. It’s recommended that you start learning the Tarot with the Rider Waite deck as it sets you up for understanding many other decks as well.
Deck creators often use the Rider Waite system and symbolism, as many readers know the deck’s structure. The learning curve is not that high, and therefore the decks are easier to sell. This phenomenon has created a ripple effect and made the Rider Waite deck central in modern-day tarot practices.
It is worth noting that Tarot de Marseille (TdM) has a solid position on the world stage. Rider Waite Tarot has its strongholds in westernized English-speaking countries as Australia, England, and the United States.
To try this thesis, that the Rider Waite Tarot is the most popular or standard deck, I polled the “Tarot Tarot Tarot” Facebook community. I asked the members to vote on the most commonly used deck, according to them. The members are spread around the world. At the moment writing this article, 114 votes were cast.
The vast majority voted on the Rider Waite Tarot is the most commonly used Tarot deck. The Tarot de Marseille turned up in third place.
78% of the Tarot readers voted on the Rider Waite deck, and 6% voted on the Tarot de Marseille. It was interesting, though, to see that 7% voted for the Modern Witch Tarot. This deck was published in 2019. I guess that this deck is trendy and that many voted because of this factor. In my opinion, the deck has not been around long enough to make an imperial stamp on the Tarot practice. The Modern Witch deck is a variation of the RWS deck.
The Rider Waite deck was published in 1909, and the Tarot de Marseille dates back to 1856. The decks, and systems, have been around for a long time.
One very famous deck is Crowley Thoth Tarot Deck, but it didn’t appear in the poll. The deck was published in 1969. Show 102550100 entriesSearch:
|Rider Waite Tarot||87||76%|
|Modern Witch Tarot||8||7%|
|Tarot de Marseille||7||6%|
|The Guilded Tarot||2||2%|
|RWS and Morgan Greer||2||2%|
|The Wild Unknown||1||1%|
|Vivika Tarot the Fae||1||1%|
As always, polls like this are not the end or be-all, but they indicate that the Rider Waite deck is the most common. I also think it is excellent to create polls as it is easy to make assumptions depending on the reader’s style or what you are used to. It is always hard to get an objective overview.
There is always a lot of opinions on what is more commonly used than other decks and systems. But this indicates that the Rider White deck is the number one deck, and the Tarot de Marseille second. But, keep in mind, this is a poll from a relatively small pool.
THE HISTORY OF THE RIDER WAITE TAROT DECK
The Rider Waite Tarot deck was published in 1909 by the Rider Company. The illustrator was Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951) and the author of the system itself, the mystic Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942).
The creators of the Rider Waite deck were influenced by the 19th-century occultist Eliphas Levi (1810-1875) and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.
The deck has been published in many variations and editions. Many creators get inspiration from the RWS deck. According to Wikipedia, the tarot deck has been sold in more than 20 countries and over 100 million copies. Read more here (Wikipedia).
ALTERNATIVES TO THE RIDER WAITE TAROT DECK
There are alternatives to the Rider Waite deck and system. As seen in the poll, the Tarot de Marseille is ranking high as well. The Tarot de Marseille deck is a pip-deck, which means that the suits 1-10 only have minimalistic symbols. It lacks the details you find in the Rider-Waite deck. The system itself is also a bit different from the Rider Waite’s.
Another tarot system is the Troth tarot. This system is based on astrological and alchemist symbols and schools.
If you are not reading Tarot highly focused on card meanings and systems, oracle decks or intuitive decks are an excellent recommendation. There are lesser “rules,” and it can be helpful if you feel hindered by the rigid system of the Rider Waite approach.
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The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is the most commonly used, along with the Tarot de Marseille. But remember, there is no competition – there are no winners or losers in that sense. You must choose a Tarot deck and system that you feel attracted to – may it be RWS, TdM, or oracle cards.
The Rider Waite deck has been sold in over 10 million copies, and 78% of the tarot readers voted that the Rider Waite deck was the most commonly used.
The Rider Waite deck is a great deck to start with if you are a beginner. If you learn the system, you have a leg up when branching out to more complex decks.
THE DEFINITIONS IN THIS ARTICLE ARE BASED ON THE RIDER WAITE DECK AND SYSTEM.
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