If you've signed up for one of my workshops, you'll need a tarot deck. Now some people say that you should never buy your first deck, but that it should be given to you as a gift. I think this is a great idea in theory -- and I have used it as an excuse to buy many friends their first decks -- but I'd still be tarot-less were I relying on my friends and family, who don't know an Aquarian from a Zoroastrian deck. Plus, buying your own deck enables you to choose one with images and symbols that appeal to you. I mean, some people like cats in Baroque costumes; other likes Gummi bears. One woman's trash is another woman's tarot.
But if you're just starting out, the blizzard of options can be blinding. So here's my choices of good basic decks that won't let you down or weird you out. Some might even become your favorite (because truthfully, I have purchased many decks since that first, but the Morgan-Greer remains one of my favorite working decks). All are pictoral decks, meaning that each cards has images to help you remember the card's meaning, not just four wands sitting there for you to puzzle out.
The Rider-Waite-Smith (the King James of tarot decks)
The Morgan Greer deck (Portrait-style, with no borders, and vibrant colors)
The Connolly deck (with images like stained glass)
The Aquarian deck (Art Deco and eclectic)
The Golden Tarot (Medieval and glorious, like an afternoon in the Lourve)
Other Interesting Decks
The World Spirit Tarot (woodcuts with imagery and characters from around the world)
The Llewellyn Tarot (watercolors with major arcana based on the Welsh Mabinogion)
The New Palladini deck (like the Aquarian, only more Art, less Deco)