Tarot Nomenclature

Yesterday, I did readings for a few hours at this local public event. I only brought one deck along, and it’s a deck that’s very Thoth-based. As many of you know, the Thoth is the #2 
most popular deck in use out there, and it made quite a few changes to the big decks that preceded it…most notably in the area of nomenclature. That is, Aleister Crowley renamed a Suit, most of the Court Card ranks, and a heap of Major Arcana cards.

But as much as I do like the Thoth deck, and those that use it as their starting point, I learned the Rider-Waite-Smith deck first, and its specifics seem to be the ones that have lodged in my brain as my own inner default settings. I’ve been leaning on RWS decks a lot lately, too, which probably explains why, when I drew The Universe card for a few different querents yesterday, I kept referring to it as The World, even though the card clearly has the words “The Universe” emblazoned across the bottom of it. I earned myself a few weird looks along the way…

So all in all, I personally love the fact that decks are diverse, and that creators rework the templates. I think it’s possible to get too crazy with that concept, to the point that the resulting deck doesn’t even really feel like Tarot anymore (or it just seems like a vanity plate in deck form or something), but despite my occasional blunder with the designations, I’m all for the differences. How about you, though? Do you have a favorite system that feels “right?” Do all the differences in terminology just annoy you? Or do you like the variety, too…?

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