“Companion” Decks

I create a fair number of spreads that use two or more tarot decks. (I know that some people like to do mixed readings with tarot and oracle or tarot and Lenormand decks, but I haven’t gone far in that direction yet.) I have around 50 tarot decks now and am always trying to find pairings that work well together in multi-deck readings. There are a couple of scenarios where more than one deck is needed: the most common is in selecting a Significator card from a separate deck so the reading deck remains whole when laying out the spread. Another that I face frequently is in readings that involve two or more “trains” of inquiry, such as multiple-choice decision-making spreads that compare two (or several) choices. Romance readings are a good example. A third opportunity occurs in very large spreads with several layers or “departments” of interpretation.

My point here is to talk about specific deck pairings that I’ve used or want to use. Right now I’m working the Thoth deck with its spiritual descendant, the Tabula Mundi Colores Arcus, both of which use the Golden Dawn system of esoteric correspondences. Other effective match-ups for the Thoth are the Liber T, Tarot of Stars Eternal and the Navigators of the Mystic SEA (which also work well together without the Thoth). Decks based strictly on Golden Dawn principles –  like the Magickal Tarot and the Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot – may not have much in common visually, but they are thematically congenial.

In the realm of RWS, I’ve linked the vivid Albano-Waite with the Radiant RWS, and have also used the compatible Morgan Greer and Connolly decks together. I haven’t paired my Smith-Waite Commemorative Edition with anything yet, but something similar in color scheme like the Aquarian or the Old English would probably be reasonable. I haven’t tried them together, but decks like the English Magic and the Old English may be on the same wavelength. Except for the dramatic size difference, the Druidcraft and the Old Path or the Robin Wood appear to be simpatico.

With Tarot de Marseille decks, I’ve found the colorful (but non-traditional) Fournier and Hadar decks to be a congenial team, as would either of those with the Fournier Spanish Tarot. Although I don’t own them, the CBD and the Japanese-made ISIS look like decent partners. Most standard Marseille decks would seem to be workable together.

Large-format decks offer a particular challenge because setting standard-size cards next to very large ones can be visually jarring. I recently did a four-deck reading that stretched my resources in this area; it was a majors-only world politics reading involving the US, North Korea, Japan and China. I used the Thoth, the Druidcraft, the Tarot of the Golden Serpent and the PoMo Tarot. You can probably guess which culturally unique deck I used for the USA.

A particular conundrum was finding a  sympathetic mate for the Voyager Tarot, with its non-traditional card titles and meanings. It’s essentially a system unto itself, so I’ve tended to work it with oracle decks to good effect. The Messenger Oracle, which is similar in size, color range and – to some extent – image design, has been a fortunate choice. Here’s a picture:

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The next frontier for me will be in joining the Deviant Moon to the Tarot of the Magical Forest. Disturbed-looking lunar creatures (I call the Deviant Moon “Tim-Burton-meets-Hieronymous-Bosch”) and paranoid forest animals look like a perfect match for some very edgy readings. While there are probably multiple options to be found within the realm of faerie, animal and “dark” decks, I generally stay away from those themes.

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