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Tarot Reading The History Of The Cards

Author: Frederick Gimino

The fascinating art of Tarot reading has an amazing history. But, where did Tarot cards originate? Some speculate that Tarot may have originated in Egypt but there is no concrete evidence to support these claims.

Although, the standard playing cards migrated to Europe in the late 14th century with the Mamelukes of Egypt, it is a stretch to say they invented the Tarot deck, card games, or divinatory practices associated with it. In fact the modern Tarot deck as we know it today is a collection of images and symbols from a wide variety of cultures, from ancient Greece, Romania, Norway, India, Egypt, Italy, and France.

Some people speculate that Pythagoras, one of the first gurus of modern day esoteric philosophy and practices, may have invented the precursors to Tarot through his work with mathematics, music, tetractys, and Numerology.

According to the most accurate historical data available modern day Tarot cards originated in Northern Italy. The oldest surviving Tarot cards, called the Visconti-Sforza tarot deck, were created in the mid 15th century. This sixty-six card deck based on the "carte da trionfi" or triumph cards were designed and painted for the Visconti family the rulers of Milan and one of the most prestigious families in Italy.

These cards were designed to be played as a trick based card playing game with trumps called Tarrochi. This game spread slowly across Italy and mostly in the upper stratum of society. This was because pre-printing press hand manufactured cards were quite expensive and news traveled fairly slowly in those days.

It appears that in 1450 there was an Italian jubilee year with many festivities and pilgrims which brought the game into the public eye on a broad scale. In addition in the 1460's the introduction of Gutenberg's printing press to Italy made mass manufacturing books and cards possible. From this innocuous game of Tarrochi (called Tarrock in German/Austrian, or Tarot in France) it was not long before these cards aided by the wide spread use of the printing press became a medium for fortune telling and parlor tricks.

From Italy tarot cards migrated into Southern France and the "Tarot de Marseilles" is one of the most famous decks from that country originating around 1499 when France conquered northern Italy. The English Tarot deck is often called the Rider-Waite deck and is the one we are most familiar with in the modern day English speaking countries. It consists of 78 cards 56 minor arcana and 22 major arcana or what would have been the trump cards in the game of Tarrochi. It was created in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Edward Waite. It was published by the Rider company and now is copyrighted by U.S. Games.

In addition it is no surprise that Tarot cards were under condemnation from their very conception by the religious authorities of the time. They were frowned upon by the Roman Catholic Church especially as a form of idolatry.

Interestingly enough science was much kinder to the Tarot deck than religion. For example, Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud subscribed to tarot beliefs. Carl Jung attached symbolic importance to The Tarot cards attributing the cards with inkblot type properties. These enabled the psychologist to form evaluative inferences about an individual's archetypal characteristics. The cards helped identify characteristics that represent the subconscious symbolic and pre-symbolic attributes that affect how they view themselves, others, and their environment.

However, most modern psychologists frown on the notion of using Tarot cards in therapeutic settings for archetypal analysis. These methods of archetypal analysis are relegated to the fringes of the clinical practices.

Unearthing the true origins of Tarot cards may never occur with empirical certainty. But, one thing is for certain these divinatory aids of the occult are certain to continue on through the ages as a mystical tool for ascertaining answers to questions on past, present, and future events.

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About the Author:

Frederick Gimino is the founder of Free Psychic Network Providing a free Tarot Reading oracle, online psychic oracles, and online Psychics giving live advice.

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