There are a lot of Tarot Cards. If you have gotten a deck, you will notice there is a lot more than a common pack of playing cards.
In this article, I will be sharing how many Tarot cards are in a deck. I’ll also share some history that might surprise you about the number of cards in a deck. It’s probably not what you think….
How Many Tarot Cards are in a deck?
Most modern Tarot decks contain a total of 78 cards. The deck usually has 22 in the Major Arcana and 56 in the Minor Arcana. The vast majority of Tarot decks have 78, but there are historical instances of decks with different totals of cards.
One of the most famous Tarot Decks, the Rider Waite Smith Deck, or RWS, was printed in 1909 with 78 cards.
This became the gold standard and most modern decks are based on the 78 cards of the original RWS.
However, the Rider Waite Smith Deck was not the first Tarot and there have been many different versions with different numbers of cards
Read More: How Many Cards To Pull In A Reading?
Number of Tarot Cards Changing Throughout History
The total number of cards in a Tarot deck has changed throughout the centuries.
The oldest surviving deck, the Visconti-Sforza deck, only has 15 or so cards. There are other decks from the 15th century that had anywhere from 86 to 60 cards.
When Tarot was first born it was used more like a card game, but over the centuries it started to be used more for divination and self-reflection.
The widely popular Tarot of Marseilles is how most people associate Tarot with 78 cards. Then in 1909 when the RWS deck was published with 78 cards, it became the new standard.
Number of Cards per Tarot Deck:
|Name of the Deck||Year Published||Number of Cards|
|Tarot of Marseilles||1701||78|
|Thoth Tarot Deck||1969||78|
|Minchiate||16th-century||97 (included astrological signs and other symbols)|
|Cary-Yale Visconti Tarocchi||15th century||86 ( has Male and Female for each of the court cards)|
|Visconti-Sforza tarot deck||15th century||15 or so (up for debate) It’s the oldest surviving copy of the Tarot.|
As you can see there has been a wide range of total cards in a Tarot deck.
Modern Tarot with Extra Cards
I am constantly checking out Kickstarter for new Tarot decks, and see a lot of amazing innovation.
I have seen decks with a whole new suite, decks with multiple genders for the court cards, and other interesting ways of building off the standard 78 cards in a deck.
Here are four examples of decks with more than 78 cards:
- The Deva Tarot has 93 cards
- Faery Wicca Tarot 83 cards
- The Fifth Tarot 92 cards – 22 majors and 70 minors
- Tarot of the Silicon Dawn 97 cards
I think it is great that people are experimenting outside of the Rider Waite Smith version of Tarot with 78 cards.
What are the 78 Cards in the Tarot:
The Rider Waite Smith deck, and most modern decks, have the same structure.
- 22 Major Arcana (or cards)
- 56 Minor Arcana that is separated into 4 suites. (14 for each suite equals 56 total)
Here is a list of the 78 cards found in the Tarot:
|The Magician||The Hanged Man|
|The High Priestess||Death|
|The Emperor||The Devil|
|The Hierophant||The Tower|
|The Lovers||The Star|
|The Chariot||The Moon|
|The Wheel of Fortune||The World|
List of the Minor Arcana:
|Pentacles Suite||Wands Suite||Ace Suite||Cups Suite|
|Ace of Pentacles||Ace of Wands||Ace of Swords||Ace of Cups|
|2 of Pentacles||2 of Wands||2 of Swords||2 of Cups|
|3 of Pentacles||3 of Wands||3 of Swords||3 of Cups|
|4 of Pentacles||4 of Wands||4 of Swords||4 of Cups|
|5 of Pentacles||5 of Wands||5 of Swords||5 of Cups|
|6 of Pentacles||6 of Wands||6 of Swords||6 of Cups|
|7 of Pentacles||7 of Wands||7 of Swords||7 of Cups|
|8 of Pentacles||8 of Wands||8 of Swords||8 of Cups|
|9 of Pentacles||9 of Wands||9 of Swords||9 of Cups|
|10 of Pentacles||10 of Wands||10 of Swords||10 of Cups|
|Page of Pentacles||Page of Wands||Page of Swords||Page of Cups|
|Knight of Pentacles||Knight of Wands||Knight of Swords||Knight of Cups|
|Queen of Pentacles||Queen of Wands||Queen of Swords||Queen of Cups|
|King of Pentacles||King of Wands||King of Swords||King of Cups|
If you were to pick up a deck at the local shop, it would most likely have 78 cards in the deck. Actually… 90% of the time it would have the traditional 78 cards in a deck.
Historically this wasn’t always the case.
If you hear of someone that has a deck with more or less than 78 cards in it, remember that Tarot has never had one standard version throughout history. It is a living and collective art that changes with time.
There are a lot of modern decks that are expanding on the original 78 cards. I for one embrace innovation behind the Tarot and look forward to a variety of different decks that are more or less than 78 cards.
However, if you are new to Tarot I would stick with a deck that has 78 cards so that you can get a good footing on Tarot. After you understand the Rider Waite Smith or another 78 card deck, you can expand into a deck with more cards.
If you are interested in learning more about Tarot, check out the following articles: