How to Make Your Own Tarot Deck

Proposal by Melissa Michael

Lady Lorelei, Certified Tarot Master

guesstimate – 300 pages (200 text, 100 illustration)


Illustrations - 78 cards of a homemade digital deck + examples of a collage deck and optional digital cards.





See Lady Lorelei’s Collage Deck here!


Part I – Creating Your Own Tarot Deck


Chapter 1 – History of the Tarot

See the short outline for this chapter at the bottom of the page.


Chapter 2 - What tarot is and how it works

78 archetypes revealed by a system of symbols. Major and minor arcana. Universal truths, the story of Everyman. While there are decks  and system other than the 78 card standard, we will stick to this system for the bulk of the book and then examine some of these irregular or non-standard systems at the end. The uses of tarot are traditionally gaming and divination, but recently it has become a tool for many varieties of meditation and metaphysical healing.


Chapter 3 - Why you should make your own personal deck.

The real purpose of tarot is the mystical journey of self-discovery, the path which takes you from the stumbling Fool, through the wise Hermit, finally to the wholeness of the World. Take this journey of self-discovery. Make art and beauty of your life.


Practically, you need symbols that are meaningful to you. The terminology of the older decks has given way to more accessible language. The Knights and Pages have become Prince and Princesses, or Son and Daughter, but what if you are single and have no children? There are so many wonderful and imaginative decks out there. Many of them will speak to you and you will be able to use them effectively. But none of them will be as personal and effective and useful as the deck you create yourself.


The most important aspect of making your own deck is that growth process you will go through, the burst of creative intuition, the deep self examination that leads to deep self understanding. And no deck in existence can give you that.


Chapter 4 - The standard system of tarot

This chapter is a description and explanation of the basic structure and organization of a 78 card tarot deck.

Pips, Court, Trumps

4 suits, 4 ranks

Common symbols, colors, characters, and  themes of modern decks.


Chapter 5 - Recognition of your system

( This chapter could be in workbook form with lots of space or blank lines for the reader to fill in.) This is a discussion of how to define your worldview or paradigm and whether or not to go with what you are now, or to seek change and growth. Possibly the best time for creating a tarot deck is when we find ourselves at a major crossroads or turning point in our life; when we seek to re-create our self.  There are many techniques for discovering self awareness like automatic writing, journaling, and just going through magazines and cutting out whatever words and pictures strike you. I’ve listed a few of the questions and discussion points for this chapter below.


Who are you? How do you see and define yourself?

What truth do you hold most important?

In the world in which you live, what repeats or cycles? Name 4 or more.

List defining characteristics of these cycles or repeating patterns.


Where is your favorite place? Describe it and tell why you like it.


What scares and angers you? Describe these things and explain why they affect you.


What common everyday symbols speak to you and what do they say? This could be stop signs and traffic signals to computer icons, to a shorthand you’ve developed yourself.



Chapter 6 – Basic Tarot Readings or layouts

This chapter tells how to do divinatory readings with tarot cards and gives examples of several 1-5 card readings such as the Daily Reading, Relationships, Decision Making or Option Optimization.


Chapter 7 – Advanced Tarot Spreads

This chapter tells how to create your own spreads and gives a few examples of 6-15 card spreads.  Looking into the future, defining details of a situation, etc.



Part II – Making Your Deck

Chapter 8 – The Artistic Basics  - Supplies vs. Software

The simplicity of a collage deck

The possibilities of a computer graphic deck


Chapter 9 – The 78 Card system

The Overall Deck Theme

This chapter made of three sections would have an illustration for each card and a page of descriptive text comprised of the significance of the art and symbols chosen, any details about the mechanics of putting the art together, and an interpretation of the card’s meaning.

Section 1 - Pips or Numbered Cards

Tell 4 stories in the 4 suits.


Section 2 - Court Cards

Ranks and Rulers – the bridge between the Pips and Majors


 Section 3 - Trumps or Major Arcana

Your Hero’s Journey


Part III – Creating More Decks

Chapter  10- Make a deck for someone else

Make it a surprise gift or work with them, assisting in their journey of self discovery. Make a deck to enrich your understanding of your relationship with this person be it a dear friend or relative. Create a deck to define relationships and roles within your family or business.


Chapter 11 – Non Standard Systems

This is a list and description of lots of existing paradigms or organizational models to choose from. You can keep parts like the 4 suits, or majors and minors, or use an entirely different system of organization like:

solar year – 4 seasons, 12 months, 12 zodiac signs

lunar year – 4 Moon phases, 13 lunar months

mathematical, musical, cultural, religious, Reiki, historical, and even some silly or humorous like cats, computers, sports, etc.


Chapter 12 - Lady Lorelei’s Collage Deck

This chapter has several illustrations with their description, but is mostly an explanation of one possible deck. – Base 10 system of organization. Trumps or majors are associated with the suits. 5 suits.

All 101 cards displayed here!


Chapter 13 - Now that you’ve made your deck, what are you going to do with it?

This chapter covers meditation, affirmation, and manifestation uses of the tarot.






Chapter 1 – History of Tarot – 5-10 pages

Historical outline:

The history of tarot is one of change and growth beginning with the change from a game of strategy played by the kshatriyas or warriors of ancient India, to its use as a divination tool by their camp followers. The first decks were round pieces of shell marked to be a portable form of chaturanga, the precursor to chess. Tarot’s movement out of the Indian subcontinent and into Europe is shrouded in the mists of the Dark Ages, but by the 1300s there were enough card decks in evidence that laws began being written against them. What we know is that tarot had evolved from the military game played with round pieces of shell to an aristocrats card game called Tarocchi played in Italy with handpainted miniatures. And at that time, with the use of woodcut block mass printing techniques, decks became available to the common man for his use in gaming, and to his wife for a spot of homegrown fortune telling. With the advance of the printing press, decks became closer to standardized. No longer were they hand painted and gilded masterpieces. The modern poker deck of 52 cards with 4 suits became separate from the 78 card tarot deck of major and minor arcana.


In 1910 London, Sir Arthur Edward Waite published his “Pictorial Key to the Tarot” along with a deck he had commissioned by the American artist, Pamela Coleman Smith. This book and deck were presented as a “Secret Tradition” that contained a “Secret Doctrine” of  universal mystical symbolism hidden through the Middle Ages. Divination, he regarded as a secondary use of the cards.


In the 60s and 70s there was an explosion of popularity of tarot decks, but more importantly there was a proliferation of new decks with new symbolism unlike anything previously. People embraced the idea that not only is tarot useful as a divination tool, but also as tool for spiritual enlightenment.


 On into the third millennium decks are created using symbols from every conceivable mystical, religious, historical, or cultural system of organization imaginable.  People collect decks simply for their beauty as well as for how useful their symbolism can be. With the advent of the internet and the global economy just about anyone can order a tarot deck from anywhere and have it delivered within weeks. Tarot decks are now used not only for divination and spiritual quests, but also for meditation, worship, affirmation, personal manifestation, therapy. New uses for the age-old archetypes are being discovered every day.


Probably the newest and most exciting evolution of the tarot is happening right now. With the ease and availability of artistic supplies and software, people are discovering the tremendous importance and spiritual value in the creation of their own personal tarot deck.