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TAROT REVIEWS: What are the Best Tarot Decks and Top Tarot Guides?

The Way of Tarot shows that tarot decks are structured like a mandala, which is both an image of the world and a representation of the divine.


There are Tarot guides and Tarot tools to suit each personal preference: Tarot guides for Love, Tarot books for Self-help, free Tarot sites for gratis readings, Tarot tutorials, etc. Thanks to the booming interest about all aspects of Tarot, the availability of books and courses is growing as well. Among all these options, it helps to have some reviews of the best Tarot resources available.

As we know, Tarot cards are a guide we can use for different aspects of our lives: from love to career, from fortune telling to relationships. While each person, and each tarot guide, has its own unique approach, there are some tarot books and tarot decks that can help us all.

Best Tarot Guide for Self-Help

EXSTATICA shows how to use the Mantegna Tarot for personal and transpersonal discovery. Each of the first four chapters of this book, analyzes the Mantegna Tarot cards, together with the Four Spheres of Being (Meaning, Cognition, Emotion, Behavior). The remaining chapters explain how to use the cards, integrating them into our daily life.

The Mantegna Tarot deck is very different in structure from other tarots (like the Visconti Sforza Tarot, Sola Busca Tarot, and the more recent Tarot of Marseille, Rider-Waite Tarot, Thoth Tarot). The 50 cards from this Renaissance Tarot deck take us through the Four Spheres of life. The first ten cards of the Mantegna Tarot guide us through the Sphere of Behavior. The cards from 11 to 20, belong to the Sphere of Emotion. From 21 to 30, to the Sphere of Cognition. The outer Sphere of Meaning includes the cards from 31 to 50.

The Group E (1-10) also covers the hierarchy of society:

1 Beggar (Miser)
2 Servant (Fameio
3 Craftsman (Artixan)
4 Merchant (Merchant)
5 Gentleman (Zintilomo)
6 Knight (Chavalier)
7 Doge of Venice (Doxe)
8 King (Re)
9 Emperor (Emperor)
10 Pope (Papa)

The Group D (11-20), brings the nine Muses and Apollo. Group C (21-30), the seven liberal arts and Philosophy, Poetry, Theology. Group B (31-40): the Genius of the Sun (Iliaco), Genius of Time (Chronic), Genius of the world (Cosmic), and the Seven Virtues. Group A (41-50): the Sun, Moon, five traditional planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), the Eighth Sphere (Octava Spera) of the fixed stars, the Primo Mobile, and Prima Causa.

The history of the Mantegna Tarot is fascinating. It links the lives of both known, and less known, thinkers and artists. Martianus Capella was a Latin-language writer of the 5th century, author of De Nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii (The Nuptials of Mercury with Philology). This didactic treatise was addressed to his son. It tells the story of Mercury, searching for a wife. Apollo, who convinces him to marry Philology. Jupiter, who agrees to this union as long as Philology gets elevated to a divine status, being accompanied by the liberal arts. These are nine books of the work:

Liber I: De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii
Liber II: De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii
Liber III: De arte grammatica
Liber IV: De arte dialectica
Liber V: De rhetorica
Liber VI: De geometry
Liber VII: De arithmetica
Liber VIII: De astronomy
Liber IX: De harmonia

Georgius Gemistus Pletho (Pletone) was a Byzantine philosopher. He helped to bring Plato’s philosophy back to the West, while visiting Ferrara and Florence on a state visit. This inspired Marsilio Ficino, and his de Medici patrons, to get Plato’s work translated from Greek into Latin. And even more importantly, from words into art. The effect of Ficino’s Florentine Academy can be seen in various Renaissance masterpieces, including the art of Botticelli. Francesco Del Cossa was a painter active in Ferrara and Bologna. The Mantegna Tarot engravings are likely to come from his school. His work at Palazzo Schifanoia is very well known and full of symbolism.

Best Encyclopedic Tarot Guide

The Way of Tarot shows that tarot decks are structured like a mandala, which is both an image of the world and a representation of the divine. They explain that the Tarot is a “nomadic cathedral”, whose 78 pillars need to be viewed with an awareness of the whole structure. This understanding is essential to fully grasp the Tarot’s hermetic symbolism. The Way of Tarot was written by Alejandro Jodorowsky’s insights into the Tarot as a spiritual path.

Best Historic Tarot Book

The Tarot of the Bohemians: The Most Ancient Book in the World for the Use of Initiates was written by Papus. He was a French hypnotist, physician, and occultist famous for founding the modern Martinist Order. Papus’s “Tarot of the Bohemians” represents a key part of the 19th and early 20th-century Tarot literature.

Other honorable mentions: Best Tarot Cards and Books for Professionals

Some deck are almost unanimously considered a “must have” among Tarot and Oracle cards experts. They include the already mentioned Rider-Waite-Smith Centennial Tarot and Thoth Tarot Deck. Plus the Cosmic Tarot Deck, Marseille Tarot, Romance Cards by Doreen Virtue, Victorian Romantic Tarot, Dalí Tarot, The Wild Unknown Tarot Deck, Ethereal Visions Illuminated Tarot Deck, The Ellis Deck. “The Best Tarot Card Decks for Beginners, According to Professional Tarot Readers” identifies several more tarot decks.

Best Tarot Cards for Love and Relationships

“Best Tarot Cards for Love Advice: Which Tarot cards hold the most potent messages for your love life?” is a valuable guide to explore the most meaningful tarot cards for love and their meanings.

Best Self-Help Books

If you prefer to start from self-help books, and then use tarot cards to see how their advice can apply to your life, we suggest the evergreens from Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth Awakening to your Life’s purpose, The Power of Now A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment. The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) by Don Miguel Ruiz. The top Hay House books like Assertiveness for Earth Angels by Doreen Virtue, Mind Over Medicine, The Honeymoon Effect by Bruce Lipton, You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, E-Squared, Archetypes by Caroline Myss.

Upcoming Best Tarot Guide Books

For more tarot books reviews and tarot news, please visit The Tarot Book Review or its version in Spanish: Libros de Tarot.

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