I cannot speak for all tarot readers, but for me, the beauty of tarot cards has resulted in a fabulous tarot card collection of an uncertain but abundant number of decks. Calling it an addiction is not accurate, for these are tools of my trade just as much as the brushes I use to paint. I've bought thousands of painting and art supplies in my lifetime and no one has ever bat an eyelash over it. I consider my tarot decks with the same perspective.
My collection is modest considering the number of years I have been reading tarot, but it is deliberate and somewhat picky and genuinely reflects my tastes in tarot imagery.
That's not to say that I haven't purchased a few decks that I'm not overly fond of (particularly back in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s when one pretty much had to buy a deck before knowing its contents. In those days we really did judge a deck by its cover). But by and large my decks reflect my personal tarot tastes, which admittedly tend to be old school.
I've read online dscussions where some say that having a large collection is unnecessary or even counter to learning how to read tarot. The belief being that in order to bond with tarot one should read from one deck as a beginner until becoming proficient with tarot. But to my mind, using that logic, one only becomes proficient with that one deck.
Now it is true that when I began reading only two decks were available in the States and since I had both of them I wasn't trying to learn from too many decks at once. But they were from distinct styles of tarot and did not share a common platform. My first deck was the 1JJSwiss tarot deck (pictured above) from which I read exclusively for about a year. The other deck was the RWS deck. (Actually my first copy of the 'RWS' was the Albano Waite deck.) Pretty much out of the gate I began learning tarot from two very distinct styles of tarot, one being similar to the Marseilles format and the other obviously from the RWS camp.
It is important to remember that I am kind of old, and in those days there was no internet; so the authority on tarot was the few books I could find in the few stores that carried 'that kind of stuff.' I actually ended up learning meanings for my 1JJSwiss pip cards through studying numerology. I did learn some astrological and alchemy symbols along the way, but my primary interest in learning the pips was through numerology and applying number meanings to the suits. Numbers don't lie and that is how I learned my tarot truth especially while reconciling the meanings of two distinct tarot branches..
I flip-flopped using my two decks in those early days depending on how I felt. Obviously the meanings I assigned to individual cards sometimes varied depending on which of the decks I used. But I learned very early on that they were not so totally dissimilar and that aspects of one deck added a layer of new understanding to the other. All my tarot learning was independent and there were no groups to join to expedite my learning process. (At least none that I knew in suburban Philadelphia) In fact, I was the only 'expert' I knew. I think it was probably about three or four years of self-study and using each of these decks in readings before I was highly proficient so my formative tarot years came about through using these two distinct tarot decks.
Back then my wish-list included only one deck, the Visconti-Sforza, once it registered on my radar after a trip to NYC where I spotted it in a museum. I had seen it referenced in books, but seeing it in person blew me away. (It was a decade or two before a facsimile of that deck became available on the mass market.)
Then the 80s happened and decks were popping up all over the place in popular American culture. The Fergus Hall Witches Deck (aka 007 James Bond Deck) was probably one of the next decks I purchased, and from there it just snowballed. Every store I visit I sought out whatever new tarot deck that was available. Although some decks did not please me aesthetically I did not care. I just wanted to add a new deck to my collection and learn it. Now I am more particular, but in those days I was very hungry for all the decks I could lay my hands on.
Now of course, one could go quite mad trying to lay hands on every deck available especially due to social networking which exposes us all to what seems to me an infinite number of tarot decks. Every year I try to limit my purchases to just a few.
I do have a modest wish list and one of the decks on that list might surprise you. I know it surprises me! That deck is the Orbifold Tarot . Granted, it isn't exactly 'Old School' as I have mentioned as a personal preference. It has always appealed to me in concept, and it is a deck I have kept my eye on since its inception. The more I come across it, the more its visual and ordered consistency appeals to me. One of the reasons for that, I think, is because it is genuine and knows exactly what it is. It is pure. It's a cut to the chase tarot based on color and my beloved numerology! Well, at least that is how I am perceiving it.
But I digress.
One of the arguments for reading from multiple decks other than developing a rich tarot vocabulary, is that none of my decks are particularly worn out. Even my 40 year old 1JJSwiss and Albano decks are in remarkably excellent condition. True, I treat my decks as the sacred tools they are, I NEVER eat or drink near them, always freshly wash my hands before handling them, and keep them meticulously stored in protective housing. They never sit around casually on the coffee table or are they ever thrown on a dusty shelf. They are housed in furniture exclusively dedicated to them. But having said all that, I think one of the reasons they remain in such good condition is because I rotate their use. I use whatever deck 'feels' right for the moment or or if a client requests a particular deck. All my decks get used.
Using multiple decks, and learning simultaneously from multiple decks, helps avoid the 'one meaning fits all' mentality which I feel is very limiting to learning tarot.
So bah to the nay sayers who claim having a go-to-deck is the best way to go. Feed your tarot addiction and may you enjoy at least 40 years of tarot love!