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 Post subject: Chocolat Tidbit #25 ~ History of the Tarot
PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:32 am 
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The Tarot is a set of 78 cards with allegorical representations today used for divination. A typical Tarot deck consists of:
The major arcana, consisting of 21 trump cards and the Fool card
The minor arcana, consisting of 56 cards:
Ten cards numbered from Ace to 10 in four different suites; traditionally batons (wands), cups, swords and coins (pentacles) and;
Four court cards, page, knight, queen and king in the same four suits.
(Arcana is the plural form of the Latin word Arcanum, meaning closed or secret.)


The Tarot has a fragmented history that intrigues historians, scholars, hobbyists, and spiritualists alike. There are many myths surrounding the origin of the Tarot. One popular myth, is that the cards were brought from India by the Gypsies. The Tarot appeared in Europe around the late 14th and early 15th Centuries. Although there are no examples of the earliest cards, there are other types of records of the game Trionfi or Tarocchi. This is the gambling game for which the Tarot was first used. In 1367 the city of Bern, Switzerland prohibited the use of playing cards, and similar decree was handed down in Barcelona, Spain in 1382. Several Italian murals from the 15th Century depict a gambling card game, which very well could have been the Tarot. The use of playing cards originated in China, and it seems coincidental that the Tarot game began to appear in Italy after the return of Marco Polo from China in the late 13th Century. The designs on the earliest known Trump cards related to Roman myths and Astrology, thus supporting the theory of Italian origins. Some of the imagery remains today on the cards, but much has changed. The original Trumps were not numbered, as they are now. The earliest documentation of numbering is from the late 15th Century. It is unclear how many original Trump cards there were in the Tarot deck. Some decks had Zodiac signs, the planets known at the time, Roman mythological figures, the seven virtues and seven vices, Many correspond with the current Trump cards, but some do not. The Minchiate decks had ninety-seven cards. There is some speculation that some of the early Visconti decks might be incomplete Minchiate decks, as the Major Arcana (Trumps) have some similarities. Is the Tarot a pared-down version of the Minchiate? The debate over this question still goes on.


The earliest know cards still in existence date from 1392 and, of these, only 17 remain. It is believed they were painted for Charles VI of France. The Chariot from the 1392 deck:

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Other surviving decks known as the Visconti decks, which are considered the forefathers of today’s decks, were painted by Bonifacio Bembo and named after the family that commissioned them, the Duke of Milan. They are thought to have been painted to celebrate a mid-15th century wedding joining the ruling Visconti and Sforza families of Milan.

Here are three cards from an original Visconti deck. The Lovers, The Chariot and the Female Knight of Swords

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It is believed that the cards were originally created as a game, called Trumps (later known as Tarocchi), for Nobles and tarot cards remained privileged to the upper class of society since they had to be hand-painted or drawn. (In modern Italy, there is still a game called tarocchi played with the minor arcana.) Because the cards were hand-made, those who played the game could dictate which cards they wanted to include, substitute or eliminate altogether. Certain cards; Death, the Devil, and the Tower in particular; were considered offensive by the more conservative Nobles. The images eventually caused religious leaders to attempt to ban Trumps.

The first detailed reference to the Trumps of the Tarot is in the form of a sermon. This sermon, given by a Franciscan friar in Italy sometime between 1450 and 1470, contends that the Trumps were invented and named by the Devil. It condemns the use of the cards, and generally credits them with the triumph of the Devil. According to the friar, the Devil wins through the loss of the souls of those who play what was then, quite probably, nothing more than a simple game.

As new printing techniques became available, Tarot became more accessible. In the latter half of the 15th century, the card makers in Marseilles, France began to standardize the Trumps. By the 16th century, a deck called the Marseilles Tarot was widely used. Below are some examples.

Here is the major arcana from a Marseilles deck and an full deck from the 16th century.

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The Tarot cards eventually came to be associated with mysticism and magic. The Tarot was not widely adopted by mystics, occultists and secret societies until the 18th and 19th century. The rebirth of the Tarot, and its beginnings as a means of divination, are attributed to Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1781. De Gebelin, a Swiss clergyman and Freemason, published Le Monde Primitif, a speculative study which included religious symbolism and its survivals in the modern world. He first asserted that the symbolism of the Tarot de Marseilles represented the mysteries of Isis and Thoth. He further claimed that the name “tarot” came from the Egyptian words “tar”, meaning “royal”, and “ro”, meaning “road”, and that the Tarot therefore represented a “royal road” to wisdom. He presented no clear factual evidence to substantiate his claims and Egyptian hieroglyphs had yet to be translated. The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799 did not yield any support to the theory that the Trumps hailed form Egypt. By the time authentic Egyptian texts were available, the identification of the Tarot cards with the Egyptian “Book of Thoth” was already firmly established. In 1857 the Egyptian connection was even more firmly entrenched when the notion was introduced that the wandering Romany people – “Gypsies” who at the time were thought to be descendants of Egyptians - had carried the deck with them on their travels through Europe.

Although Tarot card were used for fortune telling in Italy in the 1700’s, they were first widely publicized as a divination method in 1770 but cartomancer Jean –Baptiste Alliette, better known as “Etteilla”, Alliette was a French occultist who reversed the letters of his name and worked as a seer and card diviner shortly before the French Revolution. Eteilla designed the first esoteric Tarot deck, adding astrological attributions to various cards, altering many of them from the Marseille designs, and adding divinatory meanings in text on the cards. Etteilla published several works that involved the Tarot Trumps and the writings coincided with deGebelin’s recently public treatment of the Tarot as a wellspring of Egyptian occult knowledge. His was the first deck available to the public expressly for the purpose of divination. Following are some examples from an Etteilla Thot deck:

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Interest in Tarot by other occultists came later, during the Hermetic Revival of the 1840’s. (The Hermetic Revival the magical and religious movement stemming from the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus.) The idea of the cards as a mystical key was further developed by Eliphas Levi and passed to the English-speaking world by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Levi developed a correlation between the Tarot and the Kabbalah, the Hebrew system of mysticism. This fueled a new belief that the Tarot originated in Israel, and contained the wisdom of the Tree of Life. The new theory brought all 78 cards together as keys to the mysteries, but again, there were no concrete facts to support it. Nevertheless, something important was accomplished. The theory would later serve as proof that the symbolism of the Tarot crossed all boundaries. From this point forward, many magical and esoteric groups recognized the Tarot as a timeless body of knowledge that had significance in every mystical path.

Tarot became increasingly popular beginning in 1910, with the publication of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot. The images were drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith, to the instructions of Christian mystic and occultist Arthur Waite, and originally published by the Rider Company in 1910. While the deck is sometimes knows as a simple, user-friendly one, its imagery, especially in the Trumps, is complex and replete with occult symbolism. The subjects of the trumps are based on those of the earliest decks, but have been significantly modified to reflect Waite and Smith’s view of Tarot, a combination of divinatory meanings from Etteilla (and others) and from divinatory meanings first espoused by The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which both Waite and Smith were members. Thanks, in part, to marketing by the publisher U.S. Games Systems, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck has been extremely popular in the English-speaking world beginning in the 1970’s. Some examples from a Rider-Waite-Smith deck: The Lovers, The Chariot and Death.

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In the present day Anglo-American world, the Tarot is usually seen either as a means of divination, the practice of ascertaining information from supernatural or other sources, or as a psychological tools for accessing the unconscious. Carl Jung was the first psychologist to attach importance to the Tarot. He may have regarded the Tarot cards as representing archetypes: fundamental types of persons or situations embedded in the subconscious of all human beings. The Emperor, for instance, represents the ultimate patriarch or father figure.

Modern decks created since the time of the first publishing of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck vary in their card imagery. The variety is almost endless. Cat Lovers may have the Tarot of the Cat People with cats in every picture. These modern decks change the cards to varying degrees. For example, the Motherpeace Tarot is notable for its circular cards and feminist angle; the mainly male characters have been replaced by females. The Tarot of Baseball has suits of bats, mitt, balls and bases; coaches and MVPs instead of Queens and Kings; and major arcana cards like The Catcher, The Rule Book, and Batting a Thousand. In the Silicon Valley Tarot, major arcana cards include The Hacker, Flame War, The Layoff and The Garage; the suits are Networks, Cubicles, Disks, and Hosts; the court cards CIO, Salesman, Marketeer and New Hire.

Tarot of the Cat People:

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Motherpeace Tarot:

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Tarot of Baseball:

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Silicon Valley Tarot:

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The Tarot is normally used to provide a reading in which a particular question is explored or the questioner’s life in general is considered. Each card in the Tarot pack has a basic set of meanings and associations attached to it, but interpreting cards according to these attributions alone would be one-dimensional. In order to provide a framework that allows a greater richness of meaning, the reader employs spreads: layouts of cards in which the position of a card in the spread modifies the interpretation of the card. The diversity of today’s Tarot styles allows Tarot readers to choose a deck that suits their personalities, the subject of the reading, the person receiving the reading, or any other variable as they so choose. Certain decks have a serious tone, some have a dream-like quality, others are full of cartoon images. One webstore has over 700 different decks for sale from Abyssal Tarot to Zukunfts Tarot!



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 5:02 pm 
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Fascinating history, DITHOT.
Quote:
The earliest know cards still in existence date from 1392 and, of these, only 17 remain. It is believed they were painted for Charles VI of France.
It boggles the mind that 17 of these have survived to today! And the Visconti cards are truly tiny works of art. I suppose it is a measure of their perceived power and importance that leads people to treat them with respect and care and to pass them down through the generations.

I love the cat people and feminist ones, too, but the baseball and computer geek ones leave a bit to be desired in my idea of what is magical and mystical! :lol:



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 8:53 pm 
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Those 14 century tarot cards are beautiful..individual works of Art..I had to laugh at the nerdy cards :capnjack: I've never had a reading done..but mum kept some tarot cards in her cupboard ,high up on a shelf,when I was young..I wasn't ever allowed to touch them because I could drop them and that was a no-no.So I've always been a little apprehensive of them.My grandmas on both sides of the family did readings..



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:01 pm 
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Can you even imagine having a deck of hand painted playing cards? :-O



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PostPosted: Thu May 25, 2006 9:05 pm 
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Interesting tidbit, as usual, DITHOT! The theme cards crack me up--especially the Silicon Valley version, being that I live there. :lol:



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 7:35 am 
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some of those cards are really beautiful,but they willl always scare me for a reason I dont know :-/
greets,
es



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 9:09 am 
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I, myself was always "scared of Tarot cards" even though I have quite a Psychic background.I do, however read the Native American Sweat lodge cards, made byChief Archie Fire Lame Deer.When People show an interest in what I do they always say itsnt it scary.Nothing bad comes of this it is not future telling,Otherwise I would have won the lottery by now!!.It is to help someone on the ir Pathway to gain Harmony and Balance.I did use to resd theMedicine Cards but these work for me a lot better in the sense that whoever I read for are really pleased with the reading.Along with bringing a touch of the Native American culture,I myself have found a n inner peace and focus more on what does need it.If anyond goes for a reading the best to go for is someone who is recommended through someone else you know.And remember it isnt really supposed to be "future Telling".


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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 5:46 pm 
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It's good to read that spirit... :disco: ..It sounds like those readings that you do are a help/guide to both parties. :cool:



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 6:57 pm 
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The Tarot, like tea leaf reading, crystal gazing, scrying, casting the Rune stones and the like are tools to help the intuitive tap into his/her higher self (conscience) where Universal information is accessible.
A good psychic doesn't need these tools, however, they are fun to work with and provide symbolic references that assist in validating and confirming the information that the intuitive receives. Some decks are more user friendly than others and the "feel" of them in important. If you are not comfortable with one deck, there are many more to choose from.
One of my decks (packed away at the moment) is based on celebrities. It isn't marked as such, however, you can clearly see that some of the faces are well knows actor and actresses.
I swear one of them looks like Johnny! When I come across the deck again, I will scan and post.

Thank you DITHOT and Liz for all of these interesting tidbits.



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 7:33 pm 
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Chocolat wrote:
Some decks are more user friendly than others and the "feel" of them in important. If you are not comfortable with one deck, there are many more to choose from.


I can see how the "feel" would be important. Thanks for the extra bit of info, Chocolat. :interesting:



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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:47 pm 
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Thank you, DITHOT and Liz for posting information about the history of the Tarot.
I use the cards for readings, but as a way to access the Universal information, like Chocolat explained. It's best to acquire a Tarot deck from someone else. They are better when you get them used or as a gift or passed down in a family. When I read for someone, I explore their energy and tap in to what's surrounding them. The cards allow for focus. They serve to guide. I like to use the Aquarian Tarot deck. But my best readings happen when I can see things inside the person I'm reading for, aside from the actual cards or the order in which the cards have laid themselves in the spread. It's not foretelling the future, but tapping into all that is and can be. I certainly can't pick numbers, but I can sometimes tell when people will meet or marry or have a child or get a job or take a journey. And when I pull The Tower card, I always seem to lose an electrical appliance of some sort. The refrigerator in our garage died the other day.
And some decks are definitely more user-friendly than others. One of my friends has a Crowley Thoth deck and I just could never read with it.


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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 12:04 am 
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I love all this stuff!

Thanks everyone!



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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 11:03 am 
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Thanks, everyone for your added information. Very :interesting: :cool:



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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!
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