Rider Waite Tarot Deck


This deck was designed by Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) follower of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (society dedicated to magic and the occult) and society of the Rosae-Crucis. Images were made ​​by Pamela Colman Smith-Pixie-(1878-1951), a versatile British artist (you can see his signature on each of the cards). Rider was the publisher of this deck and It was popularly called Rider Waite Tarot. It is also knowned as Waite Tarot or Waite-Smith Tarot.


 Portrait of Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith


This deck is very popular because their images are very expressive, especially the Minor Arcana that show us a detail of circumstances that make the interpretation of the card more simple.


Rider wanted to impregnate his cards with the knowledge that they received in the Golden Dawn and enriched with their particular point of view.



Differences with the Tarot of Marseille

Waite followed the general guidelines set by the Tarot of Marseille except for some peculiarities which are explained below.


Minor Arcana

  • Waite wanted to number the Major Arcana The Fool, giving it the number 0. In the Tarot of Marseille It is the only Major Arcana that is not numbered. We can understand that for Waite The Fool marks the beginning of the journey that offers us the Tarot and in the Tarot of Marseille The Fool has no number symbolizing that the journey is infinite and never begins or ends.



The Fool - Rider Waite Tarot / The Fool - Tarot of Marseille Jodo-Camoin


  • The position of the Major Arcana Strenght and Justice is exchanged regarding the Tarot of Marseille. In the Rider Waite Tarot, Strenght is the Major Arcana VIII, while in the Tarot of Marseilles, Strenght is the Major Arcana XI. In the Rider Waite Tarot, Justice is the Major Arcana XI, while in the Tarot of Marseilles, Justice is the Major Arcana VIII.


Justice Tarot of Marseille / Justice - Rider Waite Tarot


  • It seems that this change has been do it very consciously by Waite, indicating Strenght with Lemnis or infinity symbol that also looks like a lazy 8. However, this symbolism also appears in the version of Strenght in the Tarot of Marseille but in a more hidden way, in the shape of his hat just like in The Magician.


Strenght - Tarot of Marseille / Strenght - Rider Waite Tarot


Many reconized tarot readers are disagree with this exchange and even thought they have used the Rider Waite Tarot in his books and courses (such as Master of Tarot, Hajo Banzhaf) when they have to use the card number or for other matters of interpretation they follow the criteria of the Tarot of Marseilles


  • Major Arcana XIII - Death. In the Tarot of Marseilles it is called Arcana nameless, although its symbolism represents Death. Maybe their ancient creators wanted to ignore the name in order to not scare the consultants if this Arcana appeared in a reading. Althought, Death usually represents a change and a transition, not physical death. 


The Arcana nameless - Tarot of Marseille - Jodo-Camoin / The Death - Rider Waite Tarot


  • Regarding the positions of the characters in the Major Arcana, there are several cases in which the positions of the characters differ from one deck to another. This can be important if we are interested in the relationship established between the cards in a spread and their possible combinations.

  • Examples are The Fool of the Rider Waite Tarot going to the left while the Tarot of Marseilles is directed to the right. And many Major Arcana of the Rider Waite Tarot are looking straight ahead while their counterparts in the Tarot of Marseilles direct their gaze to the right or left.

V Arcana - The Tarot of Marseille Jodo-Camoin /  V Arcana - Rider Waite Tarot


Minor Arcana

Here the difference is very important because the Minor Arcana of the Tarot de Marseille resemble the Spanish Deck, including a Page. In the Rider Waite Tarot the number of cards is the same for each serie but Waite and Pamela Colman-Smith created a world full of details in each Minor Arcana. 


8 of Cups Tarot of Marseille - Rider Waite Tarot


Using the Rider Waite Tarot Deck

I recommend this deck especially if you are starting to delve into the world of Tarot because is a very beautiful deck and yet retains an ancient symbolism that is in our subconscious so all in more or less connect with it.

This deck is very useful to spreads when you need to see details and circumstances surrounding the query.


With this deck I made the spreads Shauri Tarot Reading, Decisions Tarot Reading and Development Tarot Reading.


If you are starting with it, It is very interesting that for a time you avoid reading the instruction booklet and emplees your intuition to recognize the meaning that wants to give each letter to you. It is a good way to start working our intuition and a good way to learn Tarot.


Major Arcana I - The Magician - Rider Waite Tarot







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