Growing up I always vision people who ‘read’ the Tarot as Gypsie- types in circus tents with a small table that had sun, moon, and stars carved on it. Or in places like New Orleans in small rooms with signs hanging outside: 'Tarot Readings, $5. She, tarot readers was always 'she's, too. She would lay out the cards and tell you your fortune.
It was years ago when I watched the Showtime series 'The Tudor's' that a seed was planted in me about tarot cards. It would be years later here on VR that Images made a journal post about these mystical cards that I was ready to take the Tarot Card Journey...
It was around 1440 that the cards were first mentioned. The Duke of Milan requested in a letter, several decks as they were called at the time of "triumph" cards to be used at a special event. The letter differentiated triumph cards from regular "playing" card. The first decks were created as a game. There were four suits with cards numbered one through 10 and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight, and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called triumph that was similar to bridge. In triumph, 21 of the 22 special picture cards were permanent trump cards. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. People began referring to as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530.
In 1781, in France and England, followers of the occult discovered Tarot cards. They saw the symbolic pictures of the cards as having more meaning than the simple trump cards they were used for at the time. They used the cards as a divination tool, and occult writers wrote about "the Tarot." After this, the Tarot became a part of occult philosophy.
There are also those who believe that Tarot cards originated in Egypt. In some circles, they are thought to be the sole surviving "book" from the great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt. In this theory, the cards are considered to be the hieroglyphical keys to life.
The Tarot is probably one of the most popularly used tools of divination in the world today. While not as simple as some other methods, like pendulums or tea leaves, the Tarot has drawn people into its magic for centuries. Today, cards are available to purchase in hundreds of different designs. There is a Tarot deck for just about any practitioner, no matter where his or her interests may lie. Whether you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or baseball, whether you love zombies or are interested in the writings of Jane Austen, you name it, there’s probably a deck out there for you to choose.
Methods of reading the Tarot have changed over the years, and many readers adopt their unique style to the traditional meanings of a layout, in general, the cards themselves haven’t changed much. Lets look at some of the early decks of Tarot cards, and the history of how these came to be used as more than just a parlor game.
In both France and Italy, the original purpose of Tarot was as a parlor game, not as a divinatory tool. It appears that divination with playing cards started to become popular in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century, although at that time, it was far more simple than the way we use Tarot today.
By the eighteenth century, however, people were beginning to assign specific meanings to each card, and even offer suggestions as to how they could be laid out for divinatory purposes.
In 1791, Jean-Baptiste Alliette, a French occultist, released the first Tarot deck designed specifically for divinatory purposes, rather than as a parlor game or entertainment. A few years earlier, he had responded to de Gebelin’s work with a treatise of his own, a book explaining how one could use the Tarot for divination.
As occult interest in the Tarot expanded, it became more associated with the Kabbalah and the secrets of hermetic mysticism. By the end of the Victorian era, occultism and spiritualism had become popular pastimes for bored upper class families. It wasn’t uncommon to attend a house party and find a séance taking place, or someone reading palms or tea leaves in the corner.
The First Deck
British occultist Arthur Waite was a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn – and a longtime nemesis of Aleister Crowley, who was also involved in the group and its various offshoots. Waite got together with artist Pamela Colman Smith, also a Golden Dawn member, and created the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, which was first published in 1909.
At Waite's suggestion, Smith used the Sola Busca artwork for inspiration, and there are many similarities in the symbolism between Sola Busca and Smith's final result. Smith was the first artist to use characters as representative images in the lower cards. Instead of showing merely a cluster of cups, coins, wands or swords, Smith incorporated human figures into the artwork, and the result is the iconic deck that every reader knows today.
The imagery is heavy on Kabbalistic symbolism, and because of this, is typically used as the default deck in nearly all instructional books on Tarot. Today, many people refer to this deck as the Waite-Smith deck, in acknowledgement of Smith’s enduring artwork.
Now, over a hundred years since the release of the Rider-Waite deck, Tarot cards are available in a practically endless selection of designs. In general, many of these follow the format and style of Rider-Waite, although each adapts the cards to suit their motif. No longer just the domain of the wealthy and upper class, Tarot is available for anyone who wishes to take the time to learn it.
Now that I have bored you with the history and how the cards come to be lets get into the purpose of my discussion.
Do you believe? While there are are rare indications early on that both playing cards and tarot were used for divination and character delineations (in poems called Tarocchi Appropriati), true “reading” practices were not widely known until the late 18thcentury.
This is when Antoine Court de Gébelin, Le Comte de Mellet, and Jean-Baptiste Alliette (Etteilla) wrote about tarot and fortune-telling and made up stories about their being brought to Europe by the gypsies from their mystical place of origin in Egypt .
My favorite origin story is that the root of Tarocchi is similar to that for the Sicilian Blood Orange, Tarocco, that has a pitted skin. This makes it look like the hammered gold leaf backgrounds of early court decks, from the Arabic word for ‘hammered’ (taraqa) describing a design technique used on gold and leather.
As the occult organization The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn says, "The most powerful sources of information come from within; the Tarot aids in coming in contact with one's Higher Self."
The first thing I learned is that there are two different types of Tarot readings: question readings and open readings. In question readings, you are addressing a specific question. Tarot is not intended to answer specific yes or no questions. Most say it also shouldn't be used to make decisions, but instead should be used as a guide to help you make the decision yourself. For this reason, the way a question is stated is very important.
I am not going to go into what I have learned; that can be found in my journal section: My Tarot Journey. In this section I have my started spread and things I have learned from Images, Moonie and Kami. The purpose of this discussion is I want to know your experinces with these cards. Do you beleive in them? Can tarot cards predict the past, present and future? What deck is your favorite and why? What drew you to tarot cards? Do/can tarot cards bring spirits? Do these cards tell the truth?
Interesting topic. I own two set of cards. The Aquarian Tarot, 1970 and the Tarot for Witches, 1974. Also, one of my book in tarot is "The Tarot Revealed", by Eden Gray, 1960. Always is fascinating as what you can discover using the Cards. Yes, the cards work, if the reader got the heart into it. Remember, not every person was created to read the Tarot. There are those who only read to make money, well, that will not work. My aunt used to read the cup of black coffee. After you finished drinking it, She used to rotate it around her palm and then, the up and down of the coffee inside the cup, use to tell her about the person who drinking it.
I got that book by Eden Gray a few weeks ago. Though Amazon kindle Unlimied it is a free download. I have herd about the coffee cup and of course tea leafs at bottom of the cup. Do you know how accurate your aunt was with her cup readings?
I agree that tarot are not for everyone. I as I stated, recently had a pull to the cards. Images I believe it was journaled about them first and that set my mind off asking questions. I have been wanting to know myself better and I am finding the cards enable me to do that. I order my deck and that was that. Currently I have advanced to using this spread recommened to me by Moonie:
IE: The Tarot Revealed is a beginner's manual from the 1960s, written when the author (a tarot teacher at the time) couldn't find an appropriate book for her students. She provides definitions and illustrations for the Rider-Waite cards, and explains the Celtic Cross and Tree of Life spreads.
By Eden Gray
Book - Published by Bell Publishing Company
Book Review: Gray also includes a section on meditating with the cards, which I found to be well written and certainly useful for someone getting to know the Tarot. Her section on symbols in Tarot is to be commended. To learn the cards properly, to meditate on them to best advantage, having a clue or two as to what is behind the pictures and the words is a wonderful gift. I am still, I feel, at the crawl stage in learning.
Interesting topic Dakotah
I first started using tarot cards back in the 80s when was attending high school and in college
I stopped doing readings for others and myself cause of how family and others treated me and thought of me
I did a few years ago ordered a deck online as there was no occult shop in the city I lived in so that I can get back into using them but once the cards arrived I felt nothing for them there was no connection to them so sold them
One day I will buy a deck but first I have to travel approx 2 hours to Toronto so that I can go to an occult shop and check the decks out there to see if any speak and a connection is formed
I have also used the ouija board in high school and college but got rid of it when caught my son at that time 4 yrs old with it
My short experince with them so far as currently I am doing the one card a day readings is showing me on what I can focus on for the day. It helps me to also see on things I need to work on within myself. An awareness I did not have before. One thing I like about the cards is everyone says when you do a Future reading that they may show something in the future you can work now to avoid/ to change now so something does NOT come to pass. I also advise when starting out to reach out to those who really know how to read the cards. Get a GOOD teacher/advisor. I have been lucky to date with the one's who have helped me learn. Like with anything that revolves around items like this you want to seek out someone who truly knows about Tarot cards.
I do Cardinal Direction Readings, it is magical what channels through in medicines I am to draw forth and bring into the reading before Spirit gifts the cards and guidances for the individual.
Interesting read. Thanks for your in depth information on the tarot beginnings.
Do you believe in them?
Yes I do believe in them. I have sat through some readings and seen what can happen with the cards.
Can tarot cards predict the past, present and future?
Not sure about the future, but I believe that they can give you insights on things that you might need to work on or work with to get to the future.
What deck is your favorite and why?
Living in the bible belt of the US it's hard to find a store that I can purchase cards at in person. This makes the choice of decks are to get a feeling on or what attracts you to the deck.
What drew you to tarot cards?
For myself, it was seeing what the cards can help you figure out or should I say things that you need to work on..
Do/can tarot cards bring spirits?
Not really certain if the cards can bring in spirits. With the different divination areas that I have seen one would believe that anything is possible.
Do these cards tell the truth?
I think that the cards only tell you what you need to know, that being said Yes they can tell the truth. I also believe that the person using the cards has a pull on the cards also and that this can affect the cards when used individually.
My question to you is: How would one know if the cards are meant for them to use? Is there a cosmic pull towards the cards themselves or does it depend on the the type of divination that you want to use?
Tarot is meant for anyone who has a desire to use them. And after that, it’s up to you to find the deck that works for you. Countless versions available.
@GypsyWitch I live in a small providence. The cloest store that sales tarot cards is about 1.2 hours away. I had the issue too when Cart was advising me how to pick a deck, to 'feel' them. I thought well I am doomed. My first deck I got were the Rider deck. easy choice becauses its the beginners deck most recommened to start with. For my next deck I went to the internet and I started google decks and looking at the cards, the details, the artwork. Then lo and behold I came across a Native (I am From Cree Nation) Tarot deck! The cards had drawings on them of many of the old stories I was raised with as a child...!!! I could not order them fast enough! So it is possible for a deck to speak to you without you holding them... well, for me anyways. Give it a try. Amazon has a TON of tarot decks... view them and see if a deck speaks to you.
Personally I have a set and they have given me insight when others tried to steer me wrong
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