Brief History of The Tarot
Astrology, numerology, runes, I – Ching, cartomancy, palm reading, clairvoyance and many other forms of divination have been embraced by millions of people around the world, yet Tarot Reading remains one of the most popular methods of divination for many wishing to gain a deeper insight into their lives.
There is no definitive moment in history when we can say for certain that the Tarot first became used as a method of divination. The origins of the Tarot are still shrouded in myth even today. Many theories on where they originated range from ancient Egypt, to China and India. There is little doubt that Tarot cards were in use in some form in ancient times, however, the romantic notion that they were linked to such esoteric groups as the Knights Templar, the Rosicrucians, the Cathars, Jewish Kabbalists or even Moses can not be proved.
What is certain is that a form of playing card similar to the Tarot of today, was in use in Renaissance Europe in the 14th or 15th century.
The traditional Tarot consists of a deck of 78 cards. There are 14 cards in each of four suits: Wands (or Rods), Cups, Swords and Pentacles (or Coins). These 56 cards are known as the Minor Arcana. In addition, there are a further 22 cards, each illustrated with a specific set of symbols that make up the Major Arcana. The word arcane means ‘mysteries’ or ‘secrets.’
Our modern playing card deck is descended from the Minor Arcana of the Tarot. Today’s Clubs correspond to Wands, Hearts to Cups, Spades to Swords and Diamonds to Pentacles. Somewhere along the way one of the court cards, the Knight, was left behind, giving us 13 instead of 14 cards in each suit.
Today there is a limitless assortment of Tarot decks available, but by far the most popular for many Tarot interpreters is the Rider-Waite deck. Based on illustrations by Pamela Colman Smith – commissioned and guided by Arthur Edward Waite, an English mystic and member of the Order of the Golden Dawn – these remain the clearest designs containing recognisable imagery that is easily interpreted.
Currently I read with the Rider – Waite and Morgan Greer decks. I particularly like the artwork of the Morgan Greer as I feel a real sense of optimism when using this colourful deck. On my website at present you will see depicted the Rider – Waite tarot as this is the one most people will be familiar with and everyone can see clearly the hidden messages shown in their beautiful, yet simplistic artwork.
Some people are inclined towards scepticism where anything remotely ‘mystical’ and unexplainable is concerned. Foretelling the future is not a ‘science’ that can be measured or quantified easily – much depends upon the querant (you) and how they interpret what is ‘revealed’. However, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ (as we say) and people do come back time and again to the Tarot for guidance because they have been given just that – a glimpse into the future.
Inevitably I do believe that we are all Master of our own Fate…WHERE WILL YOURS TAKE YOU?