Avoiding Counterfeit Tarot and Oracle Decks

Multiflora Rose

I’ve been a tarot and oracle artist since I began working on the Tarot of Trees back in 2005.  I released the Tarot of Trees in 2009, and since then, have also created and released the Plant Spirit Oracle and the TreeLore Oracle. I’ve also shared posts on how to create your own tarot and oracle as well as how to self-publish that work. It is so fun to see so many new artists entering the tarot and oracle market and trying their hand at a unique deck.  I’m always supportive of helping others who want to create something magical and beautiful.  In fact, I’m currently working on two new deck projects–one is a very whimsical astrologically-themed tarot deck that should be finished in late 2025, and another nature-oriented new oracle deck that will probably land somewhere in 2027.  And no, I have not released much information about these decks and haven’t even posted photos of them yet online or on my Instagram, for reasons both dealing with the theft of AI and reasons in this post. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed working in this genre and creating these beautiful magical tools. Or at least it was, up until about a year ago.

But friends, I’m not going to lie, being a tarot or oracle artist–especially a self-published one–is really difficult post-2022. A lot of artists, myself included, feel as though our work and even very spirits are under assault. Several recent developments have made being a tarot and oracle artist a lot harder and less fun. One of those things is how people are now using generative AI to pump out huge amounts of spiritual tools, esoteric books, and tarot decks. AI for tarot and oracles is not good for a lot of reasons, but especially true when artists have had massive amounts of their work stolen to create generative AI.

This brings me to today’s issue–after the many blows of AI, the tarot and oracle market is now being flooded with a new challenge–massive amounts of counterfeit tarot and oracle decks that have popped up in the last year or two.  I’ve spoken to no less than 20 artists who have had their decks counterfeited in this way just in the last year. Anyone who has been online in the last few years has seen the tremendous amount of fraud that currently is happening, especially on social media.  From hackers working to steal people’s accounts, to fake accounts, and now, to fake products, there seems to be no end.  Perhaps you’ve had your account hacked or stolen, or someone you know has.  Perhaps someone created a fraudulent account that looks just like you.  These same issues that are facing internet identities are also proliferating the tarot and oracle deck market. Most unfortunately, my own tarot deck, the Tarot of Trees, has been counterfeited with massive amounts of very cheap, low-quality decks flooding the market sometime in mid-2023.  In today’s post, I’m going to share about this phenomenon more generally, what to watch out for, and also, details about the difference between a counterfeit deck and a real deck and why you should care.

What is a counterfeit tarot or oracle deck?

A problem that has been occurring with increasing frequency to many tarot deck creators (whether they are self-published or from larger publishing houses) is fraudulent deck printing. A counterfeit Tarot deck is a deck–often of very low quality, with typoes and many errors–that is illegally printed without the consent of the artist or copyright holder. These counterfeit decks are now prolific and everywhere–and many, many decks are falling victim to this situation. In talking with other Tarot and Oracle artists, it sounds like we are hardly alone–almost everyone who has a deck out there has experienced this kind of fraud.  This means there are probably thousands of artists and publishers who have been victims of this kind of fraud and probably tens of thousands of people who have unwittingly purchased a fraudulent tarot or oracle deck.  In fact, major deck producers like US games and a host of smaller publishers and self-published creators have written about these decks here, here, and here (and I could keep linking, but you get the idea).  And really, we are seeing more and more internet piracy and fraudulence of all kinds–so why would it not impact the Tarot deck market?

How can you tell if a deck is counterfeit?

I can speak from my own experience with the Tarot of Trees, and also will generalize from talking with a number of other artists about their own experiences.  In a nutshell, counterfeit decks are often low-quality replicas of the originals and may have any of the following:

  • Spelling errors
  • Muted or less high-quality colors (may come from printing from scanned artwork of a previous print run, rather than using original large images like an artist would use)
  • Flimsy cardstock
  • Printing what looks like older versions of the deck
  • Printing with no copyright information
  • Printing with links or QR codes to websites with other fraudulent decks
  • Being sold at a hefty discount, usually half the cost or less you will find it online.

In the case of the Tarot of Trees, the deck was copied but not the book, so in this case, you will never see the fraudulent deck come with an option to purchase a book.  Mass-produced websites are where these decks can be found, with the worst offenders being Temu.com, Ebay (in many different countries), Alibaba, even Amazon (in many different countries), and Alibaba.

To see an example in action, let’s take a look at some of the differences between the legitimate Tarot of Trees 5th edition and the Counterfeit 5th edition.  Part of this, I’m sure is that unlike a real print run, which requires multiple printed proofs, color correction, and careful editing, these decks are produced in a hurry and as cheaply as possible.

The Story of the Tarot of Trees

To provide contextualization for the rest of this post, let me share the story a bit with you about how all this came to be and that will help you understand the significance of this issue. My sister and I have the Druid’s Garden, LLC, which is a small, female-owned business where we sell my decks and artwork, both in local shops in PA, wholesale, as well as on Etsy. We’ve been printing and selling the Tarot of Trees since 2009.  We are currently in our 6th print run. Sometime in mid-2023, my sister (who manages our sales and shipping) became aware that there were websites that were selling Tarot of Trees decks. Because we publish and sell the decks ourselves and arrange wholesale orders with retailers, we know exactly who has worked with us wholesale and where they are being sold. So we knew immediately that these decks that were being sold for less than half of what we typically charge were not ours.  Around this time, we were contacted by someone who said he had bought 500 (!!!) Tarot of Trees decks and wanted books from us–he had bought fraudulent decks! We realized with a sinking feeling in our stomachs that if this guy bought 500 decks for pennies on the dollar, the print run must have been massive.  By comparison, our print runs as a small business are typically 1000-2000 decks–we can’t afford to get more printed at one time.  The larger the print run, the cheaper the cards–so a criminal could have printed 5000 or more of these decks for only $1-$2 each, and even if they sold them at $10 each, the criminals make a significant profit.

And so, over the summer and into the fall, we began the painstaking process of researching what to do.  My sister, who is a pragmatic businesswoman, began meeting with lawyers, understanding copyright law, and painstakingly contacting companies to get the fraudulent decks taken down.  In the meantime, I was already feeling defeated as an artist because I had 1000+ of my images stolen by AI in 2022 and so this new situation was like a double blow.  I really did feel like my art and creative expression were under attack.  I stopped painting for a while and got pretty depressed about the whole thing.  To add insult to injury, I started getting contacted by people who were angry with the quality of their fraudulent decks.  When I explained that they and I were both victims of fraud, they often got angry at me and blamed me. This entire situation has been awful and agonizing both because of the amount of time it has taken us to get the decks taken down, and also the anger of people who contact us when they realize that their cheap tarot deck is super crappy and full of errors.

It has taken us months and months to learn how to effectively fight against these decks and we are still very much in the process of learning what to do. And it feels like the battle is never-ending–as soon as we get the decks taken down somewhere, they are back up somewhere else. We are constantly fighting this battle. At this point, we’ve collectively invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get the fraudulent decks taken down, meet with copyright lawyers, and educate ourselves about this issue. Further, our yearly sales of the Tarot of Trees declined by almost 40% after these fraudulent decks came on the market.

The story I’m telling here is hardly unique–I’ve spoken to other artists who are dealing with the same thing.  Many larger publishers have legal divisions that are also handling these situations.  Add to this the glut of other kinds of fraudulent things that are attacking self-published artists and writers (such as cheap AI knock-off books) and the situation is really not good.

For tarot and oracle lovers: How do you avoid buying counterfeit decks?

The best way to avoid a counterfeit deck is if you see a deck you are excited about, go to the artist’s website or a legitimate publisher’s website so that you can buy it directly from them.  Be especially skeptical if the deck is being offered for a really low price (like under $15–most artists can’t afford to sell it that cheap because they are working with a smaller print run). A lot of the fraudulent decks are showing up on sites that already offer discounts (Ebay, Temu) so avoiding buying decks on those sites is also probably a good idea.  The other thing you can do is buy them from your metaphysical stores, many of whom work directly with artists or publishers.  Since I’ve had people asking, all of my decks and books can be purchased through my Etsy site, linked at the top of every page on my site under “shop” or here.

Also, if you see decks that you think are fraudulent–report them to the platforms where they are being sold.  Share your concerns with the artist, so they can work to get the decks taken down.

And if you are the victim of a fraudulent deck, complain and demand a refund–then buy the legitimate deck from the artist or publisher.

Why should you care? Of Energetics and Artists

So why should you care? Why does this matter?  If you own any tarot or oracle decks, you want to use those decks effectively, and you want to continue to buy interesting and weird decks: read on!

The first reason to care is to support the creation of more decks! As my story above shares, it is going to take a lot of people to help fight against this fraud. To be blunt, if people want new decks to come out, they need to help protect tarot deck artists so we are motivated to keep producing decks. There are a lot of days where I think to myself–why bother anymore?  I used to love producing decks and coming up with unique magical tools. And they are works of magic–in the case of my decks, I do deep magical journeying and work extensively to craft and shape the energies of a particular card and the whole deck. But it’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm of creating new decks when you are facing adversity from all angles–through AI theft and through fraud. For so many years, I just made decks, and then if people were interested, I’d get a print run and people could get my deck. I didn’t have to worry about if someone would pop out an AI deck in a few hours or if someone in a faraway land would print 10,000 of my decks without my consent. I could take my time–about 4-5 years of it per deck–to produce something really wonderful, that had a strong magical energy, and that was something people would enjoy.  But now? Now the landscape is completely different. So this is to say, if you want to see more unique and beautiful works out in the world….do what you can to help artists out!

The second reason to care is to protect the sanctity and spirit of your magical tools. The other thing here is that an oracle or tarot deck is a magical tool–a sacred tool that you connect with, that you align with in a magical way, and that can support your path. Tarot decks are magical tools with specific energies that are created and woven in by an artist. For each of my decks, I spend hours before I sit down to actually paint a card by working with the energies and potential.  This work includes spirit journeying, meditation, working with whatever energies I need to work with, and often connecting physically in the world.

For creating the Tarot of Trees Strength card, I first meditated on the themes of the card.  I spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d like to depict.  I went hiking and went around, seeing trees that exhibited strength.  Along the cliffs of a river valley, I found my answer–strength, holding onto the edge, somehow still growing with ease.  I sat there for a long while, first asking permission of the tree to depict them in my sketchbook, then sketching.  From there, I was able to connect again with the tree in meditation and then design and produce the strength card.  In a second example, for the Catnip card from the Plant Spirit Oracle, my work with Catnip spanned a long time.  First, there was the building of my relationship with Catnip as an herbalist more broadly, learning how to grow Catnip, make medicine from Catnip, and using Catnip for my own GI issues. When I went to paint the card, I drew upon this existing relationship, and then did intentional work sitting with Catnip plants, making Catnip teas and other herbal preparations, spending time with my cats as they enjoyed catnip, growing catnip and eventually, engaging in several spirit journeys to ask the spirit of Catnip how she would like to be painted. Only then, after all of this prep work, could I begin to sketch and paint catnip–when Catnip herself told me how she wanted to be depicted.  This is because, as a tarot and oracle artist, I am literally introducing a person to the spirits of the plants, mushrooms, and trees.

When you buy a deck directly from me, or from someone who has bought it from me (in the case of wholesalers), you are getting access to that entire process as part of the magical tool you are purchasing.  I essentially painted you a gateway into the energy of that card, and you can use that tool to gain access to those energies. And as you work with the deck, then those connections become your own and the tool becomes yours.  As an artist, only I give birth to the tool. When we get a new print run, I am involved in that process, ensuring that the tool is the very best it can be that we send out into the world. Many artists and creative people talk about this exact thing–once you create something and then that thing goes out into the world, it takes on its own energy. The Tarot of Trees has done that, the deck has gone out into the world and become something unique and new. The Tarot of Trees deck has her own spirit and energy.  The Tarot of Trees belongs to everyone who uses the deck, post about the deck, shares it, works with it–these are all connecting to the spirit of that living being.

But when you buy a fraudulent deck (even if you buy it without realizing what it is), I guarantee you that the spirit of the deck is not working in your favor.  This is a corrupted magical tool, and I can’t even know what kind of energies you might connect with if you connect with.  In the case of the Tarot of Trees, I know for certain the spirit of the Tarot of Trees is not present in the fraudulent decks.  And I am fairly certain that the spirits connected to actual artist-produced decks would not want to support this fraud. Why? The energy and magic that have so lovingly and painstakingly created them have been corrupted to someone else’s profit. The machine has eaten these decks, and I can’t imagine that you’d get a good response from them. On the surface, one of these decks may look the same, but trust me, they are not the same energetically as a magical tool.  I would not ever consider using one of these decks for anything.

Concluding Thoughts

In truth, I’ve been agonizing over writing this post for months.  It should have been written months ago, back in the fall, when I knew what was happening.  I’ve just been too distraught to write it.  My sister got her hands on one of these fraudulent decks, and it took me over a month to even take a look at it. I think the thing that makes me most angry about this whole situation is the number of hours we’ve put into it–hours that we could be using to do good in the world, to help others, to heal the land, and to be agents of change.  My goal in producing these decks or my other artwork or writing has nothing to do with making money. Selling the decks helps me get supplies, pay for this blog, and donate to good causes do to more of the work in the world I want to do.  Regardless of the terrible things going on in the world, things that are largely trying to dissuade artists from continuing to create, I am grateful.  Grateful that I have a studio and tools to work with, and grateful that people love my work.

I will also say, that this entire situation has reaffirmed my beliefs about the nature of artwork, creation, magical creation, and art as a spiritual practice. If I was motivated by financial means, this would probably stop me from being an artist entirely.  But that’s not the point of any of my own work. The thing that keeps me going as a magical artist, as a druid deeply committed to the bardic arts, is my connection to art as a spiritual practice. I honor the Awen, the divine creative spark of the universe.  I honor the world of spirits, and I work to bring forth what they would like to see in the world at this time. So I won’t stop painting or creating or writing, even when it seems harder than ever before. And I hope, regardless of who you are, when you read these words, you will continue to do what you love in the world regardless of how crappy things may sometimes seem.  Thank you for your support.

Podcast: Stirring the Cauldron!

In much better news, you can check out my podcast with Marla Brooks from last week!  We talked about a range of subjects relating to Land Healing.

Dana O'Driscoll

Dana O’Driscoll has been an animist druid for almost 20 years, and currently serves as Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America. She is a druid-grade member of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids and is the OBOD’s 2018 Mount Haemus Scholar. She is the author of Sacred Actions: Living the Wheel of the Year through Earth-Centered Spiritual Practice (REDFeather, 2021), the Sacred Actions Journal (REDFeather, 2022), and Land Healing: Physical, Metaphysical, and Ritual Approaches for Healing the Earth (REDFeather, 2024). She is also the author/illustrator of the Tarot of Trees, Plant Spirit Oracle, and Treelore Oracle. Dana is an herbalist, certified permaculture designer, and permaculture teacher who teaches about reconnection, regeneration, and land healing through herbalism, wild food foraging, and sustainable living. Dana lives at a 5-acre homestead in rural western Pennsylvania with her partner and a host of feathered and furred friends. She writes at the Druids Garden blog and is on Instagram as @druidsgardenart. She also regularly writes for Plant Healer Quarterly and Spirituality and Health magazine.

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  1. given the high shipping prices on a deck i wanted that was only being printed (bespoke) from an author through PlayingCards.com, i was excited when i saw it offered on ebay at a discount… and then immediately realized this wasn’t someone who’d made a deal with the author to print a large run and offer a cheaper price – it was almost certainly a knockoff. so i still haven’t bought another deck for myself. it all comes down to where you want to put your energy, and that’s a line i wouldn’t cross. i’m so sorry you and your sister had to go through all this with creative theft. 🙁

    1. Hi Chris, yeah, that’s exactly it. Thanks for being cautious and supporting tarot artists! 🙂

  2. Dear Dana:

    Thank you for letting us all know of your experience. I am a singer-songwriter and ecol-lit writer among other things. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be if someone stole my melodies or lyrics.

    I have gone into your etsy shop and purchased two of your beautiful decks — 6th edition tree and tree lore, as well as your beautiful book about trees of the northeast. We who benefit from all the wisdom you hold and share, need to support you, our Earth sister! May your February days be rich and fulfilling. Jennifer.

    1. Hi Jen,
      Thanks so much for your support!

      As you are a writer, and these AI issues do affect all of us, you might want to check out the Author’s Guild: https://authorsguild.org/advocacy/artificial-intelligence/
      They have a lot of resources.

      I would love to hear more about your eco-lit writing and songs! 🙂


  3. Thank you for writing this post! From now on I will only buy directly from the artist. It is so discouraging to hear what some people are doing to artists. I feel so hopeless sometimes and just want to give up. Still, we must continue on and keep speaking up.

    1. Thank you so much, Ann! Your support is appreciated. I do sometimes feel hopeless, but then I get back in my studio and remember the joy of creation. That will never change, regardless of how many crooks and thieves are out there trying to take advantage of others.

  4. Im so sorry to hear about your troubles with fraudulent decks. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I had been aware of Temu selling knock off statuary and artwork, but it didnt occur to me that oracle/tarot decks would fall prey to those same distributors. I will post this to my coven’s FB page with a request for reposting!!!

    1. I didn’t even know that they were selling knock-off statuary and artwork! That’s terrible to hear. I feel like this fraud is just everywhere right now. Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  5. Hi Dana, I’m so sorry that you and your sister are having to deal with this. I’ve seen counterfeit decks sold on Amazon US, and always report to Amazon with the request that the seller be booted. Of course they can just come back under another name. It really comes down to people being informed and making ethical decisions. You have my support in all the ways. Including preorders 🙂

    1. Hi Elle, thank you! We haven’t seen them on Amazon yet, but I’m sure its just a matter of time. I think they are trying to sell a lot more of them….Thanks for your support.

  6. This whole AI phase that humanity is being steered into right now? Esoterically, I guess it’s another experience some people need to go through to learn/feel the difference between synthetic and organic. All aspects and inspiration of human art is pulsed directly from the Divine spiritual realms. Intuitively, the bathing in these energies points clearly to the differences, and how much cheaper Life will devolve into if people can’t comprehend what’s at stake, and act to support what’s real.

    1. Hi Steve, these are excellent points. I hadn’t thought about the parallels between this and other issues–pesticide-ridden/gmo food vs. nutritiously grown food, mass-produced, plastic-based clothing produced in sweatshops vs. lovingly made clothing with wool or other ingredients sourced in a regenerative way from the land….and I could go on and on. This same decision we make in many other ways in life already–and I think we are seeing yet another iteration of this with books, creations, and spiritual tools.

  7. Where can I purchase your Tarot of Trees?

    1. Sorry! I guess that would have been helpful! I have a link at the top called “shop”. You can also visit the Etsy shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheDruidsGardenLLC. Thank you! 🙂

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