I make a lot of deck recommendations, especially for beginners. This is my absolute favorite. And it’s not the Rider-Waite!
The Mythic Tarot was first published in 1986 and has gone on to become a classic. The Tarot Association ranks it at number THREE on its list of Top 50 Essential Decks, right behind the original RWS and the Thoth! That’s some rarefied company!
There are now two versions, though. The Mythic Tarot is the original, and the New Mythic Tarot has redrawn the art while keeping the meanings and associations. The art of the original is kinda stiff in that engraved-on-a-stone-wall way, but I loathe the art of the New Mythic Tarot. Loathe it. It’s a personal preference, and I’m sure there are a ton of people who prefer the new one, but there ya go.
Either way the art’s not the reason I recommend the Mythic to beginners. It’s the structure that sets this deck apart.
Every card of the Major Arcana is based on a story or figure from Greek mythology, and most of us are at least a little familiar with that without trying. That makes it more comfortable right from the start.
Additionally, the image on the card isn’t meant to symbolize anything solely on its own, it’s meant to evoke underlying mythic associations in the reader. We’re not reading a flat card, we’re reading a slice of a whole narrative! How nifty is that? Not only does it lend scope to the reading, it makes the card meanings MUCH easier to remember.
The Minors (1-10) are set up in a similar fashion, but each suit is a story. Every card reveals the next stage of the narrative in a linear fashion. The story of Eros and Psyche, from meeting through struggles to happily-ever-after, makes up the Cups. We learn about Daedalus the Artisan and get to see how success and failure manifest throughout his life in the Pentacles. Jason’s quest for the Golden Fleece is depicted in the Wands. Orestes and the curse on his family are explored through the Swords (and I really appreciate how this deck doesn’t try to downplay the conflicts of this suit or the story).
Through this story-based technique the memorization required for 40 cards is handily reduced to four stories, prompted by the pictures on each card but not limited by them. I love that, and it helps move reader from being book-reliant to reading more intuitively.
The Court cards are my least favorite part of this deck, but for me that’s pretty par for the course. (I don’t tend to like Court cards. *shrug*) Each figure is associated with their own story, and while they’re a bit harder to remember than the Majors they still serve the purpose.
Using the Cards
This deck sings for me, straight up. It’s almost freakishly easy for me to read. I find my mind connecting the cards in front of me to their stories and the readings just kind of spill out. It’s amazingly intuitive, but the written meanings of the cards are there too. This deck is a classic for a reason.
This is fab for reading for yourself or clients. There’s nothing overwhelmingly shocking in the imagery, and the minimal nudity is tastefully done. Clients are also somewhat familiar with Greek mythology, so the same familiarity that works for the reader works to put the client at ease. I find it to be gently illuminating.
However, this is not the deck I turn to for Tarot magick. I like my workings to be specific, and these cards have too much flow to easily nail them down. What I will do, however, is pull one of the Majors to represent a deity on my altar. They’re really handy for that, and the association I’ve built up with the deck transfers over at least a little to the deity with Whom I’m engaging. I find that helpful.
These cards also rock for meditation. I don’t just meditate on the card, I meditate on its place in the narrative. Instead of being static and frozen it flows. It’s really epic, and I lay it all at the feet of the structural flow the deck presents. It’s wonderful.
Where to Buy Them
First you’ll need to decide what version to get. If you don’t care about the art go ahead and grab the New Mythic. It comes with an amazingly good book, too. Bonus! Available here for just over $10. Hard to beat that!
Dislike the new art as much as I do? There’s still hope!
You could always scour eBay and spend upwards of $100, but you don’t have to. There’s a German version available with the original art for less than $10! Sure the labels are in German, but the art is so distinct and vivid you’ll rarely use the labels anyway, so who cares? It only comes with an LWB instead of the nice book for the New Mythic, though, so you’ll still need to get your hands on a guide. And here you’ve got some options.
The original Mythic came with a smaller companion book, and the Mythic Tarot Workbook is available too. The original companion book is harder to find but perfectly adequate. The Workbook is available as a $2 Kindle version, but since you can’t write in it I don’t recommend it. If you’re going this route go ahead and spend the $7 on a physical copy here.
Honestly, though? I’d suggest buying the German version of the deck and downloading the Fool’s Dog Mythic Tarot app. The app has the book, even uses the original art, and it’s $4. This gives you a beautiful and usable Tarot set for under $l5 total, and that’s a bargain it’s damn hard to beat!
Interested in seeing some more shots of that German version, and watching how I turned it into a darling little tin-sized deck? Check this out!