Making a custom deck was such a creative way to dive deeper into my understanding of the tarot. In making your own deck, you spend a lot of time meditating on the images, symbols, and meaning of each card. You have the option to choose or create images that represent you, or put in things that are not always represented in decks that are out there. I really enjoyed renaming certain cards to better align them with the way I interpret the tarot. For example, The Fool became Beginnings and Judgment became Awakening.
Gather Your Supplies
I bought blank playing cards online. They come in a variety of sizes and glosses. I chose to do collages for my deck. I normally paint or draw so I thought this would be a way for me to do something out of my normal creative flow. You could paint, draw, use a computer or take styled photos for your cards. I used old national geographic magazines that were on a free shelf at my local library. I ripped out any images I felt were interesting and began arranging them into piles labeled with each card of the major arcana. As I did this I tried to hold the meanings and symbols of the cards in my mind. I weeded out the images I didn’t want and cut out the ones I did with X-acto blades. Then I arranged the images on top of the blank cards.
Take photos with your phone as you work so you can easily compare different arrangements.
When I finally felt the image was right I attached it to the card with an extra strength glue stick. Once they were all finished I brushed a thin layer of matte Mod Podge onto the top of the collage to keep the edges from lifting. It kept the edges from peeling but my cards do occasionally stick together which damages the images some. For the back of the cards I have been meaning to get some black paper and hand draw on a simple but meaningful symbol with a silver paint pen.
Create a Truly Personal Tarot Deck
The plan was to make every one of the cards in the tarot. I thought I would start with the major arcana and then move onto suits and so on in groups. When I was done with the major arcana cards it just felt compete to me. I was happy with my little custom oracle deck. I also added a maiden, a mother and a crone cards to the deck, as these are three aspects of the goddess I work with a lot. I chose not to add the numbers and titles to my cards and just left them without borders and words. If you want to have this information depicted on each of the cards, remember this in advance and leave space for it in your artwork, or consider making borders. I also wrote up my own little cheat sheet with the titles of the cards explaining the symbols, colors and images I chose for each card along with the meanings of each. I use this deck often, I really love it. It has its imperfections but it’s all mine! No one else has a deck like it! This deck is designed for me and it is really special to do readings with it, on its own and even alongside other cards.
Embrace Your Creativity
Have fun! Don’t inhibit yourself by saying, I’m not creative or artistic enough. Everyone has the ability to express themselves creatively and it doesn’t have to be perfect. This should be a really relaxed project that you do over time. No rules, no deadlines. You could even just choose one or a few cards to make. Maybe a card that keeps showing up in your readings, a card you really do not like or your absolute favorite! If you do wind up making something, send some photos our way! We would love to see them!