Brainstorm Your Vision: Themes & Symbols for Your Tarot/Oracle Deck

Creating a personal tarot or oracle deck is an enriching experience, blending creativity, spirituality, and personal vision. Whether you’re an artist, a tarot enthusiast, or someone looking to explore their inner world, crafting a deck allows you to infuse your unique perspective into a timeless tradition.

Why Create Your Own Tarot or Oracle Deck?

Before diving into the creation process, it’s essential to understand why you might want to create your own deck. Here are a few reasons:

  1. Personal Connection: A self-created deck resonates deeply with your personal journey, beliefs, and experiences. It becomes a tool of personal significance.
  2. Artistic Expression: For artists, creating a deck is a fantastic way to merge visual creativity with spiritual exploration. Each card can be a canvas for your imagination.
  3. Unique Themes: Traditional decks have their charm, but creating your own allows you to explore themes and symbols that are meaningful to you, making your readings more powerful and relevant.
  4. Deepening Understanding: The process of designing each card deepens your understanding of tarot or oracle systems. You engage with the archetypes and symbols in a more intimate way.

Steps to Create Your Personal Deck

Creating a tarot or oracle deck involves several steps, from conceptualizing your theme to finalizing the artwork and meanings of each card. Here’s a comprehensive guide to get you started.

1. Choosing Your Theme

The theme is the heart of your deck. It shapes the visual style, the symbolism, and the overall tone of your readings.

Here are some exercises to help you brainstorm themes:

  • Meditation and Visualization: Spend some time in meditation, focusing on what resonates with you spiritually. Visualize different scenarios and images that come to mind and note them down.
  • Mind Mapping: Create a mind map starting with broad ideas such as “nature,” “mythology,” “personal growth,” or “emotions.” Branch out from these ideas with specific symbols, colours, and concepts that fit each category.
  • Inspiration Boards: Use tools like Pinterest to collect images, colours, and designs that inspire you. Look for patterns in what you’re drawn to.
  • Journaling: Write about your firsthand experiences, significant dreams, and recurring symbols in your life. These can serve as a foundation for your deck’s theme.

2. Defining Symbolic Elements

Symbols are the language of tarot and oracle cards. Defining the symbols you want to use is crucial. Here’s how you can approach this:

  • Research Traditional Symbols: Study traditional tarot decks like the Rider-Waite-Smith or Thoth deck. Understand the symbolism behind each card and consider how you might reinterpret or innovate upon these symbols.
  • Personal Symbols: Reflect on symbols that have personal significance to you. These could be animals, objects, or patterns that frequently appear in your life.
  • Cultural and Mythological Symbols: Draw inspiration from diverse cultures and mythologies. Ensure you approach this with respect and sensitivity, understanding the deeper meanings behind these symbols.
  • Nature and Environment: Nature provides a rich source of symbolism. Elements like water, fire, mountains, and forests can convey powerful meanings.

3. Designing the Cards

With your theme and symbols in place, it’s time to start designing the cards. This is where your creativity truly comes into play.

  • Sketching and Drafting: Start with rough sketches of each card. Don’t worry about perfection at this stage; focus on capturing the essence of your vision.
  • Colour Palette: Decide on a colour palette that aligns with your theme. Colours carry their own symbolic meanings and can enhance the energy of each card.
  • Composition and Style: Consider the composition of each card. How do the elements interact? What style will you use – realistic, abstract, minimalist? Your artistic style will set the tone for the entire deck.
  • Incorporating Text: Decide if your cards will include text, such as the card name or a brief meaning. This can guide the user, especially if your deck diverges significantly from traditional systems.

4. Writing the Guidebook

A guidebook is essential, especially if your deck uses non-traditional symbols. It provides the meanings and interpretations of each card.

  • Card Meanings: Write detailed meanings for each card. Consider including upright and reversed meanings if applicable.
  • Spreads and Layouts: Include a few unique spreads that complement your deck. This helps users understand how to use your cards in readings.
  • Personal Insights: Share your personal journey and insights that led to the creation of the deck. This creates a deeper connection between you and the users.

5. Production and Printing

Once your designs and guidebook are ready, it’s time to bring your deck to life.

  • Choosing a Printer: Research printing options. There are many companies that specialize in printing tarot and oracle decks. Consider factors like card quality, finish, and cost.
  • Prototyping: Order a prototype to see how your cards look and feel. This allows you to make any necessary adjustments before the final print run.
  • Packaging: Think about how you want to package your deck. A well-designed box and guidebook can enhance the overall experience.

6. Marketing and Sharing Your Deck

If you plan to sell or share your deck, marketing becomes a crucial step.

  • Building a Community: Use social media platforms to share your progress and build a community around your deck. Engage with your audience through posts, live streams, and updates.
  • Creating a Website: A dedicated website can highlight your deck, provide purchasing information, and offer additional resources like blogs or tutorials.
  • Collaborations and Reviews: Reach out to tarot and oracle communities for reviews and collaborations. This can help spread the word and generate interest in your deck.

Exercises to Enhance Your Creative Process

Here are a few exercises to help you stay inspired and creative throughout your journey:

1. Daily Draws with Existing Decks

Use an existing tarot or oracle deck to draw a card daily. Reflect on its meaning and how it relates to your life. This practice can provide insights into how you might want to design similar cards in your own deck.

2. Symbol Sketchbook

Keep a sketchbook dedicated to exploring symbols. Draw different versions of each symbol and experiment with how they interact with other elements.

3. Storytelling with Cards

Create stories using groups of cards. This can help you understand the narrative potential of your deck and how different cards might relate to each other.

4. Meditative Drawing

Spend time in meditation before drawing. Let your subconscious guide your hand, and see what symbols and images emerge. This can be a powerful way to tap into deeper layers of creativity.

5. Feedback Sessions

Share your designs with trusted friends or fellow tarot enthusiasts. Their feedback can provide valuable perspectives and ideas that you might not have considered.

Advanced Tips and Techniques

Once you’ve mastered the basics of creating your deck, you might want to explore more advanced techniques to add depth and richness to your cards.

1. Incorporating Layers of Meaning

Consider adding multiple layers of meaning to each card. This could involve using subtle background patterns, hidden symbols, or complex colour schemes that reveal deeper insights upon closer examination.

2. Astrological and Elemental Associations

Incorporate astrological symbols or elemental associations (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) into your cards. This can add another dimension to your readings and provide more nuanced interpretations.

3. Experimenting with Mediums

Don’t limit yourself to one medium. Experiment with different artistic techniques such as watercolour, digital art, collage, or mixed media. Each medium can bring a unique texture and feel to your cards.

4. Interactive Elements

Consider adding interactive elements to your cards. This could include reversible images, cut-out sections, or cards that can be arranged to form larger pictures.

5. Custom Card Layouts

Design custom card layouts or spreads that are unique to your deck. These can be included in your guidebook and can help users understand the specific nuances of your cards.

Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Creating a tarot or oracle deck is a rewarding but challenging endeavour. Here are some usual challenges you might face and tips on how to overcome them:

1. Creative Block

It’s natural to experience creative blocks. When this happens, take a break, and engage in activities that inspire you. Nature walks, visiting art galleries, or meditative practices can help rejuvenate your creativity.

2. Balancing Tradition and Innovation

Finding the balance between traditional symbolism and personal innovation can be tricky. Remember, it’s your deck – don’t be afraid to experiment and trust your intuition.

3. Time Management

Creating a deck is time-consuming. Set realistic goals and break the project into manageable tasks. Celebrate small milestones to stay motivated.

4. Technical Skills

If you lack certain technical skills, such as digital editing or printing knowledge, consider taking online courses or collaborating with skilled individuals. Platforms like Skillshare or YouTube offer excellent tutorials.

5. Feedback and Criticism

Receiving feedback, especially criticism, can be challenging. View it as an opportunity for growth and refinement. Constructive feedback can enhance the quality and depth of your deck.


Creating a personal tarot or oracle deck is a journey of self-discovery, artistic expression, and spiritual growth. By carefully choosing your theme, defining symbolic elements, designing the cards, writing a guidebook, and producing and sharing your deck, you can craft a unique and meaningful tool for divination and introspection. Embrace the process, let your creativity flow, and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from bringing your vision to life.

Remember, this journey is as much about the process as it is about the final product. Each step you take brings you closer to a deeper understanding of yourself and the world around you. Happy creating!

Interested in your own bespoke deck?

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