The History of Tarot: How Tarot Card Evolved Over the Centuries
Tarot cards have a long and fascinating history that spans several centuries. Although their exact origins are unclear, it is generally believed that the first tarot cards were created in northern Italy during the 15th century. Here is a brief overview of the evolution of tarot cards over the centuries:
The early years:
The first tarot cards were used as playing cards for games such as tarocchi, a popular card game in Italy at the time. These early tarot cards featured images of traditional playing card suits (swords, cups, coins, and batons) as well as trump cards that depicted various allegorical and mythological figures.
The occult revival:
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, interest in the occult and esotericism began to rise in Europe. Tarot cards were viewed as a means of divination and were used in fortune-telling and other mystical practices. This led to the creation of tarot decks with more elaborate imagery and symbolism, such as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which is still one of the most popular tarot decks today.
The new age movement:
In the 1960s and 1970s, tarot cards experienced a resurgence in popularity thanks to the new age movement. Tarot decks were used for meditation, self-reflection, and personal growth. New decks were created with themes ranging from angels and fairies to dragons and unicorns.
Today, tarot cards continue to evolve and be reinterpreted by artists and readers around the world. Tarot decks have been created with themes as diverse as punk rock, LGBTQ+ representation, and African spirituality. Many people use tarot cards as a tool for self-discovery, spiritual guidance, and creative inspiration.
How did the tarot card reading start?
The origins of tarot card reading are not entirely clear, but it is generally believed that the practice began in Italy during the 15th century. At that time, tarot cards were used primarily for playing card games such as tarocchi.
Over time, people began to associate the images on the tarot cards with mystical and spiritual meanings. Some began to use the cards for divination, or the practice of seeking insight into the future or the unknown. This practice was known as "cartomancy."
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, interest in the occult and esotericism began to rise in Europe, and tarot cards became more closely associated with mystical and spiritual practices. The French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette, who went by the pseudonym "Etteilla," was one of the first to publish books on the use of tarot cards for divination.
In the 20th century, tarot card reading became more widely known and practiced. Tarot decks were created with increasingly elaborate and symbolic imagery, such as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, which is still one of the most popular tarot decks today.
Tarot History, Origins & Decks | What are Tarot Cards?
Tarot cards are a deck of cards used for divination and spiritual guidance. Each tarot deck typically contains 78 cards, which are divided into two categories: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana consists of 22 cards, each depicting a symbolic image that represents a major archetypal theme or concept. These cards include 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 consists of 56 cards, which are divided into four suits: swords, cups, coins (also called pentacles or disks), and wands (also called rods or staves). Each suit contains 14 cards, which are numbered from ace to 10, followed by four court cards: the page, the knight, the queen, and the king.
The origins of tarot cards are not entirely clear, but they are believed to have originated in northern Italy during the 15th century as playing cards for games such as tarocchi. Over time, people began to associate the images on the cards with mystical and spiritual meanings, and the cards were used for divination and other spiritual practices.
Today, there are many different tarot decks available, each with its own unique imagery and symbolism. Some of the most popular decks include the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the Thoth deck, the Marseille deck, and the Tarot of the Cat People, among many others. Tarot cards continue to be used as a tool for divination, self-discovery, personal growth, and creative inspiration.