Tarot - A Brief Introduction

Natasha Head By Natasha Head, 29th Aug 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Divination>Tarot

A simple look at tarot cards and their history in divination.

Tarot - A Brief History

First referred to as tarocchi, the tarot is a deck of richly illustrated cards, normally numbering 78. They were first found to be used in the mid-15th century for a number of cards games and trickery, including Italian tarocchini and French tarot.

It wasn’t until the late 18th century that the decks would come to be used by mystics and occultists as a form of divination. Through the cards, they would hope to determine future events and find solutions and spiritual answers to life’s many mysteries

Manuscripts from as early as 1735 are the first that provide evidence for the tarot as an oracle or predictor of future events. 1735’s “The Square of Sevens”, and 1750’s “Pratesi Cartomancer”, both provide documentation by providing divinatory meanings for the cards as well as layout formats for the reading of the cards and their predictions.

Carl Jung also held an avid interest in the cards and their representations, and was the first to use the tarot in his field of psychoanalysis. Jung claimed the illustrations depicted on the cards of the tarot were actual representations of our own human archetypes. He would question his subjects as to what cards they were most drawn to, and would use the insight of the archetype to look into the subject’s self perception.

Unlike the earlier decks that were used for game play; the occultists’ tarot is broken down into two parts:

The Major Arcana, or the greater secrets, are represented by 22 trump cards and are not related to any particular suit. The most common names for the cards of the Major Arcana are: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, and The World.

The Minor Arcana, or the lesser secrets, are 56 cards that are divided into four suits consisting of ten numbered cards and four court cards. The court cards represented by the majority of the decks consist of King, Queen, Knight and Page. Originally, the suits were represented by swords, batons, cups, and coins, however, in more modern decks, the suits have come to be known as swords, wands, cups, and pentacles.

Originally published in 1910 by the Rider Company, the ‘Rider-Waite’ deck continues to be one of the most popular for divinatory purposes. Designed by Christian mystic and occultist, Arthur Edward Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, this popular deck can still be found today in many book and specialty stores.


Divination, History Of Tarot, Tarot, Tarot Readings

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author avatar Natasha Head
Born into a real estate family, Natasha has been a licensed real estate agent since 1993. She has penned many works based on her experience, and enjoys freelancing as well. She has a keen interest in arts, music and spirituality, and enjoys the opp...(more)

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author avatar James R. Coffey
29th Aug 2010 (#)

Ever seen A Dali deck?

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author avatar Natasha Head
29th Aug 2010 (#)

As in Salvadore Dali? I can imagine that would make for some awesome images! I used the Rider-Waite as that seems to be the one that most are familiar with...but have seen someother that are fantastic. I really like the art of the Witch's Tarot and the Divinci Tarot as well. Thanks for the comment.. :)

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author avatar Jerry Walch
29th Aug 2010 (#)

Hi Natasha. Very informative.

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author avatar Natasha Head
29th Aug 2010 (#)

Thanks Jerry....more to come!

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author avatar siboiss
29th Aug 2010 (#)

Being a Christian myself, I believe Tarot cards are of the Devil. The bible is very clear on Christians searching for information through Spirits etc. Your article is very informative on the history of the Tarot.

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author avatar Natasha Head
30th Aug 2010 (#)

And they could very well be...their actual history, according to some, was simply for game play, but before long they were seen put to use by "occultists" and the like, and were brought to light in a time when religious strife was running rampant. Thanks so much for not just skipping it over...your time and comments are both appreciated! :)

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author avatar Shamael
17th Aug 2012 (#)

The Tarot has 22 cards in the major arcanum, and each of them is one letter in the Hebrew lower letters. The Tarot is a the book of the law, the Tora. Now, Tora, Taro, Rota, there are many ways to describe the cycle of life. The Tarot has his name from french word TARO, TERRE, Earth, AIR, ROY, what is king or Fire, french kings where called Roy Soleil, Sun Kings, and on the end O, EAU, is spoken O in french. So, Taro means nothing more than the 4 Elements. The Taro has his origins in the profound wisdom of Kabbalah and the complete symbolism of the existence of human and his origins is hidden in those symbolic card deck. The whole game has a smaller arcanum. Together we have 78 cards or 72 + 6, 12 Houses in the Zodiac, 36 Decans, and 36 angels and demons, the divison of the Zodiakos in 5 degree portions.
That 72 cards correspond to the Shem Ha Mporash, the 72 names of God in Kabbalah, what are human complexes, 36 good and 36 bad complexes that are called angels and demons, or the 36 lesser double keys of Solomon. They determine your character. Anyone of us gets born under a Fire sign, and we have all 2 Decans, together 3 subdivisions of 10 degrees, a Water and an Air signbeside of the fire sign. Each of this 3 basic character habits make you behavior and each can be negative or positive, thus angelic or demoniac. The masters of Kabbalah have studied human in detail and made this system we call astrology. Taro is used within this system. There are 6 cards that do not enter in the cycle, they are corner stones, there are 4 corner stones in the Zodiac, and there is a beginning and an end. The fool is the beginning, the World is the end. Aleph and Tav, AT, what means in Hebrew "to do" or "to create". The corner stones are the Hierophant, Strength, Death, the Star. They correspond to Taurus or St Luke, Leo or St Marc, Scorpio or St John and Aquarius or St Matthew.
The fool is AIR and the World is Saturnus or Intellect, symbol of the cross, the human body. It is what was, the Alpha and what will be, the Omega. If we take the Fool, the Hanged Man and the Earth as a trinity, we get the truth. And, the Truth is hidden in those 3 cards, the fool is what was, the hanged man is what is and the World is what it will be. The letters are Aleph, Mem, Tav, Air, Water and Intellect, AMT, Emet in Hebrew, what means Truth. It would take days and pages to teach the real meaning of the card deck, it would be as long as opening to each of you the whole content of the Bible, since all what that book contains is symbolized on that deck. Hope it helped you to see the other side of this "game" even if it is not a game at all.
So, take care and enjoy using you grey matter.

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