This has been a monster project indeed. Too much choice always makes it more difficult to come to a decision. Apparently that's backed up by research that someone once did somewhere and I can well believe it. So how did I decide what my favourite cards are and what have I learned?
Firstly, how did I decide which cards made the top 5? Well, by gut reaction. I laid out all the cards i.e. 80+ Fool cards and so on. Then I chose the ones that I really liked the look of. If I did it all over again today, I would probably get a different result. It's a subjective exercise.
To an extent the cards were competing with each other which may seem like an unfair comparison. That brings me to the first lesson I learned: one card does not make a deck. There were some cards that I knew had stuck out in my mind, the Justice card from the True Black for example. The bright light behind Justice's head really grabbed my attention even among a deck of strikingly beautiful cards. However, that stand out card doesn't necessarily mean the deck will be perfect to work with as a whole.
The next lesson I found was that there are some decks I love that haven't featured much or haven't featured at all in the Top 5. The Naked Heart Tarot, for example, is a deck that I love the overall look and feel of and yet it's sadly missing. That doesn't mean the images are not as great, in fact it could mean the images are better because none stand out, they all work together as a whole deck.
Of course this exercise is about the images on the cards, not about the quality of the product. So those decks that are a joy to shuffle, Pagan Otherworlds for example, aren't represented but those that drive me nuts when shuffling, e.g. the Brady Tarot or the True Black Tarot, win on image value alone.
That brings me to another lesson learned. The overall image of a deck can be busy and hard work but some individual cards can be just right. That might mean that you have to stick to single card pulls or smaller spreads. They can still work really well but your overall use of the deck will be limited.
Bringing all the cards in the number 1 spot together shows that my favourites don't make the perfect deck. In fact, it looks like a badly conceived collaboration deck and even reduces how attractive each individual card is. This project has, however, helped me pick out the features that I appreciate and helped me to realise the overall theme of the deck is just as important as the individual images.
Finally, I am in awe of anyone who can create a deck of 78 cards. I congratulate all the creators and artists. I've struggled just to pick my favourite 22 majors. So, will I be choosing my top 5 minor arcana cards? Well, watch this space.
If you have any cards in your top 5 I'd love to hear about them. What is that you love about the image and why? I'd love to hear your comments.