I recently joined a Tarot circle, and one member had a deck that I found so intriguing that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I found myself googling it several times in the days that followed until I finally decided to purchase it.
Deciding to purchase a new deck can be a big decision. Or it can be a gut move. This was maybe a little bit of both, since I felt in my gut that I wanted it right away but then I labored over the decision to purchase it for a bit.
This deck is Tarot of the 78 Doors. And it’s…. unconventional.
It is based on Rider-Waite-Smith imagery, so it’s not like it’s Thoth or Tarot De Marseille. But the artist behind 78 Doors took some of the card interpretations to a new place, making it a totally new experience in some ways.
Getting to know a new deck can be an emotional journey on its own, but it’s complicated when the deck has new and different imagery and symbolism.
Getting a new deck has this really cool honeymoon period that goes with it. You open the box, maybe you flip through the little book that comes with it, and then you hold the cards. Fell their weight, see how glossy they are, maybe fan them out a little.
There are a few commonly used methods for connecting with a new deck. Some people will sleep with a deck under their pillow (y’all must be really still sleepers!). Some cleanse or charge them with crystals. Some go through card by card and journal their thoughts. Some meditate with their decks, or perform rituals. And then there are about a bajillion interview spreads across the Googles for getting to know your deck (more on that later).
While I can’t sleep with my deck under my pillow, I do sleep with a deck or two on my nightstand. I like to flip through the cards before bed and think about each one for a few minutes before I fall asleep. I find this to be meditative, personally.
All of these things are great ways to become acquainted with a new deck, but what about a new… nontraditional deck, like 78 Doors?
My Own Fool’s Journey
My first deck was the super old school Rider-Waite. I have used it the most. I find the symbolism super accessible. When given the choice, most people I read for tend to choose this deck (though I really ought to start directing them to the deck I think best aligns with their inquiry or energy, but that is not the point).
I know my Rider-Waite deck inside and out. Every card, every symbol–I know the meanings without thinking about them.
In order to become better acquainted with Tarot of the 78 Doors, I’ve been comparing each card with its counterpart in my Rider-Waite deck. Where the 78 Doors symbolism differs, it has been fun to look at the comparable card that matches it to think about the meanings I have been associating with cards forever vs the ones that spring to mind when viewing the new symbolism of 78 Doors.
This has led to a lot of revelations about both decks, actually.
How about an example?
Traditionally, Justice has been a card of truth, fairness, law. You are being held accountable for your actions. There is a fruitful search for answers.
The 78 Doors deck features a more…. contentious view of the search for truth. There are people arguing on the steps of a courthouse. The door to the courthouse is closed, and this may come as a shock but doors are a theme in the Tarot of the 78 Doors–open doors symbolize a positive opportunity, and closed doors indicate a block. The big closed door of the courthouse shines a light on the combativeness of the Justice card that I don’t usually think about when interpreting the card.
The search for truth is rarely easy or straight-forward. The Tarot of the 78 Doors makes this a focus of the Justice card, where it is not an overt symbol in Rider-Waite or some other decks. When doing reads with 78 Doors, I might be inclined to read Justice as a fight for truth, but now I’ll also be thinking about this aspect with Rider-Waite reads more often.
Want another example? Of course you do!
The World is definitely about completion, fulfillment, achievement, the end of a journey, goals brought to fruition. I suppose there are fewer more powerful symbols for this concept than the birth of a newborn.
The birth symbolism makes me think of so much else, though: Family, new ideas, emotions, responsibilities. There is so much to this cycle of life depicted here, and it brings a lot of depth to a reading. I can also see it meaning, literally, that the querent is expecting or should plan to grow their family. I’m not sure I would have put that meaning on The World before. The Empress? For sure. But maybe not The World.
Also, look behind that baby at the closed door. What potential barriers are there to this cycle of completion? The World usually symbolises fulfillment and achievement, and sometimes it is easy to forget that it could mean that someone needs to look toward what needs to be accomplished to reach their goals. 78 Doors makes it much easier to consider this aspect of the card.
Studying Tarot of the 78 Doors alongside my Rider-Waite deck has been very rewarding. I’m not only engaging a lot with the meanings of my 78 Doors cards, but beginning to add depth to the associations I have with each of the original cards in my Rider-Waite (and therefore, other decks more closely based on RWS imagery).
I’m not sure when I’ll be ready to begin reading with my 78 Doors deck, but for now I’m finding this nightly ritual of flipping through the cards and viewing them along side my Rider-Waite cards to be a fascinating and extremely rewarding way to deepen my relationship with Tarot in general.