The Origins of Tarot Reading

Understanding the History of Tarot Reading

By far, the most popular tool for fortune telling is the Tarot. Tarot readings consist of a deck of 78 tarot cards which are believed to disclose intuitive information about the person who is using them.

However, the tarot is not only used for divination. It can be a great tool for meditation, visualizations, self-awareness and can certainly help find solutions to one’s problems or current challenges. The deck of tarot cards is comprised of 22 major arcana cards, known as the trump cards and 56 other cards that are divided into four suits. These are known as the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana is quite similar to the modern deck of playing cards.

Many people believe that the origins of tarot reading date all the way back to ancient Egypt. Other people have also associated tarot reading to the lost city of Atlantis or the gypsies from Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, there is no such evidence. There is evidence, however, that suggests the Tarot deck was developed in the middle of the 15th century in Northern Italy. The original Italian word known for them was “Tarocchi” and Tarot is believed to be the French derivation. Evidence suggests that tarot cards were originally created for a gambling card game and not for predicting the future.

The 22 major Arcana cards are associated to the Hebrew alphabet and reflect the number associated to each letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Although there is no historical evidence that Tarot was a numerology tool, numerology can be used in conjunction with tarot reading as every card has a specific number.

The first 11 cards of the Major Arcana represent the first half of all the life cycles and identify the beginning journey towards enlightenment.

The first half of the Major Arcana reflect the first stages of consciousness and the lessons that one must learn through the various stages of early maturation and individuation. The second part of the Major Arcana represents the second part of the life’s journey and highlights the process of self-awareness and personal transformation.

The cards which carry the 4 suits are depicted as coins, swords, goblets and clubs, although their names may vary depending on the deck. Intellectual activity is represented by the swords; Material gain and security is represented by the goblets, the goblets represent emotions and relationships, and the clubs represent energy, life directions and one’s career. Those who believe in the tarot believe that the deck represents all knowledge in all the sciences and the manner in which they are dealt reveals the future as well as solves all problems.

The tarot became an art of the occult during the period of the early 1780’s. 

In 1910, a new version of the Tarot was designed by Rider Waite, a famous occultist who brought the Tarot into the cultural mainstream. Rider’s decks still contained the basics of the original designs; however the symbolism of Hermetic and Egyptian cultures were added.

Although many expected the changes to be dramatic, they were actually quite subtle. Even today, there are hints of the ancient tarot decks which are full of wisdom and archetypal imagery.

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