How to Make Your Own Tarot Cards: The Complete Guide

How to Make Your Own Tarot Cards

Making Your Own Tarot Cards

Tarot cards are a growing trend that many people are starting to follow. You can buy a pre-made tarot card deck, but many people want to know how to create your own tarot cards. Learning how to create your own tarot cards can make your tarot readings more personal and improve your ability to read the cards.

To create your own tarot cards, first pick what tradition you want to use. Then, figure out your theme, which will determine what type of images you will use. After you have brainstormed, you will need to choose your artwork and put it on your cards using hand drawings or a printing service.

The steps to creating your tarot cards are simple. The hardest part is figuring out what pictures you want to use to represent the different cards in your deck. Let us look at everything you need to know about how to create your own tarot cards.

Why Make Your Own Tarot Cards

Many people have turned to making tarot cards, using unique images that hold significant meanings for you.

You can design tarot cards by using pre-cut blank cards or make some by cutting appropriately sized smooth finish cardstock or photo paper.

Some people draw the images for each card, which can be a lengthy process but entirely rewarding. Other people pay to design the cards and have them printed by a company such as Make Playing Cards.

Making your tarot cards is a great way to customize your reading experience for your specific needs. You may not find a premade tarot deck with images that appeal to you. Cards that do not make you feel something will not have the same results as cards that excite you.

Creating your own set of tarot cards also lets you understand what each card means and how you can interpret it during readings.

Designing your cards can also help you with self-discovery. You can learn about your psyche and the unconscious mind by creating your vision. Using your cards can also help you answer questions you have never considered or voiced.

Designing your tarot card deck also lets you share your vision and inspiration with others. You may inspire someone else to create their own deck, or you could end up with a profitable side business from creating custom tarot card decks.

Determine Your Message

Before choosing what type of images to include for your tarot cards, you first have to determine what you want your deck to mean. You will also need to consider how you will use your deck. And you will also need to figure out the theme of your deck.

A homemade tarot deck can consist of as many cards as you want. But most people stick with the traditional 78 card design. The tradition you are using can also affect your vision. The three most common traditions to choose from are the Tarot of Marseilles, the Thoth tarot deck, and the Rider-Waite-Smith.

Choose a Concept

Next, you need to decide what your deck will represent. Will it help with guidance, storytelling, mediation, or prediction?

Will your deck focus on one specific theme or concern such as money, love, career? What symbolism will your cards represent? Will your cards follow the traditional characters, or will you be creating your versions of the cards?

If you plan to let other people use your cards, you want to make sure the symbols, images, and themes you choose are easy to understand.

Think of a Design

The great thing about making tarot cards is that you can let your imagination run wild. Many people stick with the traditional images or make their versions of the established cards.

Your images should relate to the concept you have chosen for your deck. Do not include a picture because it is pretty if it does not relate to the rest of your images or the message you want to share.

You will also need to decide where you will get the images you plan to use. If you are artistic, you could hand-draw your pictures on each card. However, this could take you a while before you have a complete deck.

Other people like to use the images they have found online. But beware that most images have copyrights, which means if you try to use those images on a deck that you intend on selling, you could get into legal trouble. Stock images are a great workaround.

You can also use software like Photoshop or other image editing programs. Or keep your design simple by eliminating images. Label your cards with the word the card represents, and use different colors to describe the various suits and the Major Arcana.

Make a Tarot

Create Your Cards

Now that you have the concept, theme, and image ideas in your mind, it is time to create your cards. The final look can be as easy or complicated as you want it.

You can draw each of your images by hand on a blank card you have purchased or cut out from photo paper or card stock.

Or you can submit your completed designs to a printing company for them to print on cards for you. This method usually happens by scanning or uploading your chosen artwork to the company.

If you are making tarot cards for personal use, be careful which site you use to print your cards. Some companies may require you to buy in bulk, meaning you may get stuck with a bunch of extra decks. Look for companies that are POD or print on demand.

What Are Tarot Cards?

Tarot cards are a deck of 78 cards used for meditation, fortune-telling readings, Wiccan practices, and psychotherapy. Tarot cards are a type of divination, which means working with the divine, meaning higher power or your unconscious self.

Each card in a tarot deck has a specific image, story, and symbolism. There are two portions to a tarot deck, major and minor arcana. The major cards refer to life on a grand scale, while the minor cards are problems you face daily.

A tarot card reading allows you to access your unconscious mind. Your intuition will help you interpret the meaning during each reading when you lay your cards out in a specific pattern.

There are multiple techniques for reading tarot cards. The most crucial part is making sure you are using the right questions.

Reading tarot cards is not a form of magic. You do not see the future.

A reading helps you learn things you already know deep in your mind. You have to rely on intuition to analyze the meaning of a tarot card.

The three most common types of tarot decks are the Tarot of Marseilles, the Thoth tarot deck, and the Rider-Waite-Smith, which is the most common type.

Tarot of Marseilles

The Tarot of Marseilles is French and originated in the 1850s. In this deck, the minor arcana uses basic images representing the card number, such as a four of hearts or a six of diamonds in a standard card deck.

Trying to understand the meaning of the pip cards can be more difficult with the Marseilles cards than other decks. An understanding of Numerology may help with analyzing the cards. You will also need to be able to follow your instinct and understand the meanings behind the suits.

Thoth Tarot Deck

Many tarot card readers will tell you that Thoth tarot decks can be more challenging to read, especially for new users. It requires a deep understanding of different materials. The card names are also changed.

In the Thoth tarot deck, the cards that are different include:

  • Magician (card I): The Magus
  • The High Priestess (card II): The Priestess
  • Strength (card VIII): Lust (moved to position XI)
  • Wheel of Fortune (X): Fortune
  • Justice (XI): Adjustment (moved to VIII)
  • Temperance (XIV): Art
  • Judgment (XX): The Æon
  • The World (XXI): The Universe

Another confusing difference between the Thoth and RWS decks is that the court cards have different names. In the Thoth deck, the terms are:

  • King (RWS): Knight
  • Queen: Queen
  • Knight: Prince
  • Page: Princess

Rider Waite Smith Tarots

The Rider Waite Smith (RWS) format is the most common format used in English-based areas and is the first type of deck meant for divination. This format receives influences from occultist Eliphas Levi and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and is highly symbolic.

In a Rider Waite Smith deck, the minor arcana are represented with symbolic images of various activities and emotions you may go through in everyday life.

The court cards Justice and Strength are reversed from other decks. And the major arcana correspond to the astrological teachings of the Golden Dawn. The “Pope” card is the Hierophant, and the “Papess” is the high priestess.

History of Tarot Cards

The origins of tarot cards trace back to the 1430s in Italy. Initially, tarot cards were a parlor game used to play popular games like French tarot, Austrian Königrufen, and Italian tarocchini.

In many places, such as much of Europe, tarot cards are still used as a method of conventional card games, without relation to the divine. The game rules, design, and card names will vary by region.

Early tarot card decks included the four original suits that consist of ten pip cards (Ace or one through nine) and four face cards (Knight, Queen, King, and Jack/Page/Knave. Plus a new fifth suit.

The fifth set, the trump suit, included 21 uniquely designed cards called “triumphs” or trionfi. This set also had an odd card, “the fool” or “il matto.”

Original decks were unnumbered, meaning users had to memorize the order of the cards by their illustrations. The triumph cards are superior to the other four suits during card games.

Tarot Cards in the Occult

It was not until the 18th century when people began using tarot cards as a way to connect with the divine through tarot card readings and cartomancy.

Around this time, custom decks began to emerge. The first forms of occult tarot cards appeared in 1789 by Jean-Baptiste Alliette or Etteilla, as she became known. These cards contained ancient Egyptian scenes taken from the Book of Thoth.

Tarot Cards in Psychology

Tarot cards have even played a part in the psychological analysis by Carl Jung, who believed tarot cards could represent the archetypes of humanity.

Jung believed that using objects of divination, such as tarot cards, speeds the process of reaching individuation, which is when a person’s life experiences, personality, and the unconscious psyche result in a well-balanced state of being.

For this to occur, the personal and collective unconscious must be brought into the world to be addressed and mixed into the person’s overall personality. The process of unlocking the subconscious happens through active imagination, free association, or dreams.

The individuation process has multiple stages, represented by spiritual archetypes. Jung believed these archetypes, which are images and themes, have universal meanings that appear in religion, art, dreams, or literature. Many of these archetypes relate to tarot cards.

The archetypes are the self, the persona, the shadow, and the anima (male) or animus (female). The symbols on tarot cards can be seen as psychological images that combine in different ways. How you view the cards can depend on your unconscious mind.

Jung believed that it is possible to predict the future when you know how past events caused the situation of the present. Using intuitive methods such as tarot cards can help you grasp the current situation, leading to answers about the future.

What Does Your Tarot Card Deck Need to Include?

A tarot deck consists of 72 cards, divided into two groups: the major and minor arcana. The major arcana has 22 cards, called trumps, while the minor arcana has 56 cards. Modern tarot decks resemble Venetian or Piedmontese designs.

The images you use to represent your major arcana depends on your personal preferences. It helps to keep a guide or notes on your card designs if you will be veering from the traditional images for your tarot deck.

Major Arcana

Cards in the major arcana are the trump cards (22 total). Major cards do not have suits and refer to significant life revelations and influences. Every card features illustrations of different characters, virtues, vices, and forces.

These cards also feature a Roman numeral I through XXI. Only the Fool is unnumbered. The 22 trump cards in order are:

  • I: Juggler (also called magician)
  • II – Papess (female pope or High Priestess)
  • III – Empress
  • IV: Emperor
  • V: Pope (Hierophant)
  • VI: Lovers
  • VII: Chariot
  • VIII: Justice (can also be number XI)
  • IX: Hermit
  • X: Wheel of Fortune
  • XI: Strength (fortitude) (can also be number VIII)
  • XII: The Hanged Man
  • XIII: Death
  • XIV: Temperance
  • XV: Devil
  • XVI: Lightning-Struck Tower
  • XVII: Star
  • XVIII: Moon
  • XIX: Sun
  • XX: Last Judgment
  • XXI: World (universe)
  • Fool

The Major Arcana cards break down into three groups. Group one consists of cards 0-7, representing the material world, such as finances, education, work, and marriage. The FoolFool falls into this category.

Cards 8-14 form group 2. And they represent the intuitive mind and how we interact with the world. This group focuses on the individual and how we feel.

And group three, which is cards 15-21, focuses on universal laws and issues. This group refers to the intuitive mind and feelings. Cards from this group represent a change in your life.

Minor Arcana

The 56 minor arcana cards refer to everyday influences. There are four suits in this class, with 14 cards in each suit. The suits are swords (spades), cups (hearts), pentacles, also called coins or disks (diamonds), and wands, also called rods or batons (clubs).

The suits each have unique meanings to represent a different part of life. Wands symbolize passion, inspiration, goals, and creativity. Pentacles stand for money, home life, material items, and work. In comparison, swords represent intellect, reason, observations, and truth. And cups represent emotions, celebrations, and relationships.

Furthermore, each suite also relates to astrology signs. Cups align with water, swords with air, wands with fire, and pentacles with Earth.

Each deck features ten numbered cards, and four court cards (in order of ascending value) – jack, knight, queen, and king. The ace card represents one, but it can also have a higher value, similar to standard playing cards. These represent the passage of time, with one or Ace being the beginning.

The 16 court cards represent personality characteristics. Each card has a different meaning. The four court cards usually represent a person in your life during readings.

Final Thoughts

Designing your tarot card deck is not hard. Depending on how you decide to create your images, you could have a unique deck of tarot cards ready to read in a matter of hours to days. Creating tarot cards yourself gives you a deeper understanding of your cards and the results you get during readings. We have given you everything you need to know to create your own tarot card deck. Happy creating!