One aspect of tarot that I find most amazing is that it has been around for so long and never really died out, in fact, I would say the practice of this ancient artform is getting stronger and stronger by the year.
There are many myths and legends about where tarot first originated and when. Tarot has been primarily an artistic endeavour in the sense that the pictures and images that constitute the decks, particularly the major (or trump) cards, have been works of art created by artists.
As early as the beginning of the sixteenth century, there are confusing claims about the origins and history of the cards. It has been claimed that Tarot was a vehicle for the secret teachings of the ancient Egyptians. However, due to painstaking research by historians, it is widely accepted that the part of the deck known as the suits (or minor arcana), descended from North African origin. The major arcana was created by a wealthy Italian nobility somewhere between 1420 and 1440.
Tarot is essentially a hybrid of the fifty-two four-suited cards that were designed and used for gaming and gambling purposes. If you think about how the suits and numbering matches that of normal playing cards, you can understand this connection to game play.
As the card use spread across Europe from Italy, so did its use and it became associated with fortune-telling, the occult and magical lore of all kinds.
Today, there are thousands of card decks on the market and the use of the cards has seen a huge increase since social media allowed a platform for learning, reading, and sharing information on the tarot.
The two most established decks in use today derive from the Ryder-Waite tarot deck or Tarot of Marseille.
Rider-Waite (or Rider-Waite-Smith) is a widely popular deck and is illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, based on the instructions of academic and mystic A.E.Waite, these cards were originally published in 1909.
The Tarot of Marseilles is a standard pattern of Italian-suited cards that was very popular in France in the 17th and 18th century.
So, the fact that tarot cards are still amazingly relevant in today’s day and age delights me because the original creators had no idea at the time that we would be living in a social digital age, yet the card meanings of each elemental suits are still so apt.
A good example of this is the suit of swords. This suit has always been about mental conflict, ideas, and logical clarity. When the Four of Swords was created, the basic meaning at that time was that a mental rest was needed. Now, when I see this card in a spread, it often means that but can also mean an office job with computers.
Or the Page of Swords traditional meaning is a quick witted young intellectual, in today’s meaning it is often either online dating or the signing of contracts.
To me, the tarot is eternal in its nature and incredibly adaptable, after all, human existence is made up from the four pillars of emotions, intellect, spiritual growth, and physicality.
Until next time,
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With brighest blessings,