The Origin Of Tarot Cards
January 11, 2024

The history of tarot cards has always been perplexing and clouded in mystery. In the early days, the Tarot cards were just created as a mere parlor game, and it is incessant to our modern game of bridge. In Northern Italy, the earliest Tarot decks showed up in the early 15th century. Then Tarot traveled to southern France. Some people in southern France began to imbue the Tarot cards with certain images of their own and began to modify the deck for divination and spiritual activities.

In the early 1500s, Marseille had become a center of Tarot production. Over the next few centuries, the ancient narrative surrounding the Tarot cards solidified in the public mind as various occultists and authors developed theories linking the deck and its images to ancient symbolism, often without any real evidence. One of these occultists was Eliphas Levi. In 1854 he published a book called The Doctrine and Ritual of High Magic. He associated the Tarot cards with the Hebrew alphabet letters, planets, elements, zodiac signs, and other ancient things. Hence, people nowadays have this notion that the Tarot is an old Egyptian book that has always had correspondences to the planets, elements, and zodiac signs.

It is impossible to understand the Tarot cards without grasping that there is a mystical allegory in the cards. The images that appear in the Tarot deck can rightly be called archetypes (they are images that have existed from our earliest recorded history of Sorcerers, Hermits, Magicians, and Devils). All these images are Primeval images with a heroic, frightening, or mysterious quality.

Any Tarot deck you purchase today will be made up of 78 cards; this includes 56 minor Arcana and the Major Arcana, consisting of 22 allegorical images that many associate with the Human journey through time. British occultist Arthur Edward Wade in the early 20th century, collaborated with artist Pamela Coleman-Smith to create the most recognized Tarot card deck in the English-speaking world today called the Rider Waite-Smith deck.

The smith images opened up the Tarot cards to divination for the everyday person. The earlier versions of the Tarot cards were so difficult to decipher. The Tarot cards have surpassed everything else in the occult culture. Whether it be Ouiji boards or even daily horoscopes, the Tarot cards have become the divinatory tool of choice for most people. It is the ultimate democratic tool of the Occult.

So today, there are many iterations of the Tarot cards, ranging from ancient symbols to Star Wars, so there is a deck for everyone, but most of all, the modern decks we have are gotten from the Rider Waite-Smith deck.

When it comes to picking a Tarot deck for yourself, choose the one that resonates with you the most. Even though each deck reflects the artist’s beliefs, it is really the reader who will give the final meaning through their personal interpretations of the cards.