Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck Interview

Rider Waite Smith Deck Interview.peg

It’s a great idea to ‘interview’ a new deck before you start to work with it, and many people rely on the following 6 card spread in that process for an effective intuitive exercise. (Six, you say? I often see seven (or eight!) in these posts. Yup, I can’t resist making this a Seven Card Spread.)

As it’s about to be World Tarot Day (May 25th), it’s only appropriate that this week I work with the grandmother of them all, the Rider-Waite. Now more appropriately known as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, it’s a classic.

(I did this spread and wrote it up before I realized that a year ago I did the same thing! Looking back the similarities in the reading and my interpretations are striking. Check it out…

1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?

The World. Hah! Well ‘Pixie,’ as I think of her, is right about that. This is one of the most influential decks in the world. If this card could speak it would say: “I am important, and don’t you forget it!”

2. What are your strengths as a deck?

Page of Swords. This young man is always up for something new. I think this card says, “Don’t forget I was born from great creative and intellectual effort.”

3. What are your limits as a deck?

Strength. Again, this one has a sense of humor. I’m struck by how gendered this card is – the woman holding open the mouth of the lion. It’s reminiscent of all those women sitting near unicorns in medieval tapestries. Let’s not forget, as classic and cutting edge as this deck is, she’s also a product of her time.

4. What do you bring to the table? What lessons can you teach me?

King of Swords. This card says, “I may be harsh in my messages, but I am wise enough to be specific.” A good thing in a tarot deck.

5. How can I best learn from and collaborate with you?

6 of Coins. The card of generosity. The message is clear – share! This interview, my thoughts on the deck, all of it.

6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

10 of Wands. Ugh. Burden and overwhelm. Perhaps a warning that I don’t know how much I take on when I work with a deck that’s over 100 years old? Or, a gentle reminder that even if I were to learn everything I could ever know about this deck, I’d never be done with the topic of tarot.

7. Anything else I should know? Any question I didn’t ask?

Two cards jumped out – the Queen of Swords and the 3 of Wands. My first thought is of the fact that this deck is now so closely related with Pamela Colman Smith, and while it’s great to give credit to the artist (particularity as she was a woman of color and subsequently ignored in her day) that I’d do well to remember that this deck is the product of three people. I’ve never read the accompanying books on this deck. Perhaps it’s high time I did a little studying?

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2 thoughts on “Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck Interview

  1. I really like your deck interviews! I found you because of your “Tarot of the Crone” interview. May I ask if you were able to find the Pamela Colman Smith/Waite deck borderless? Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you like the interviews! The Rider-Waite-Smith you see is the Commemorative Edition – which comes with borders. I just cut them off. It was totally worth it. I like the deck so much better this way.

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