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Fifteenth Century Tarot Cards For at least 600 years the Tarot, and its forerunners, have been with us. It's amazing to realize that Tarot had already carved out its foundation well before Christopher Columbus set sail to discover the "New World" and almost 200 years before his discovery began to be colonized!

So, what is it that makes the attraction to Tarot so resilient? What is it that has caused it to become stronger today than it was over 600 years ago? What is it that makes it so mystical, so alluring, and so satisfying to a growing number of so many? Perhaps the answer is as simple as "IT WORKS TO FILL A VOID!"


A Brief History Of Tarot

The oldest playing cards date back to Tenth Century China, however, the modern Tarot deck has been traced back to Fifteenth Century Italy and a trick-taking game called "Triumphs." In French it was called "Tarots." The earliest documented usage of Tarot cards for playing games was in the year 1425 with the first basic rules appearing in the manuscript of Martiano da Tortona.

As previously stated, the oldest Tarot cards to have survived to the present were produced in the Fifteenth Century. As their popularity increased they became a vehicle of expression for artists, historians, and occultists. As a result, the images began to represent intricate symbols woven together in specific patterns. Images that included symbolic or suggestive information taken from larger bodies of knowledge and then hidden within the pictures. These symbols reflect the deepest spiritual and emotional meanings that can be imagined. Meanings which have been understood and shared across cultures.

The Tarot Deck

The traditional tarot deck consists of two sets of cards. One has 22 picture cards and is known as the Trumps or Major Arcana. The cards are numbered from zero to 21.
The other set consists of 56 cards and is known as the Minor Arcana. These cards are composed of four suits of 14 cards each. They include Ace through ten plus four court cards of various names that represent the Page, the Knight, the Queen and the King.

Today, there are many different tarot decks used in Cartomancy with many different designs that have been developed over the years. Yet, with all the variations, the cards retain their basic meanings. Different reading styles and spreads have been developed and are designed to answer different questions. Often the answer to a yes or no question can be more elusive than a question about how to approach a particular problem.

The Tarot Suits

The Tarot suits are commonly know as Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. They can also be known by various other names depending on the deck's country of origin or its particular style.
The attributes of these four suits vary from source to source. Some assign the elements of fire, earth, air, and water to them. Others say they represent the virtues of justice, fortitude, faith, and charity. Still others designate the geographical directions or locations to the suits.

It is purported that the four suits of Tarot and modern playing cards originated with a 14th-century Muslim deck. In the modern 52 card deck of ordinary playing cards:

  • Clubs represent the Wands. (These are said to announce news).
  • Spades represent Swords. (These are said to forecast unhappiness and death).
  • Hearts represent Cups. (These are said to foretell happiness).
  • Diamonds represent Pentacles. (These are said to predict money).

It is reported that in the original Muslim deck polo sticks were used. As Europeans were not yet familiar with polo, they changed the polo sticks to that of Wands sometimes referred to as Batons.

Tarot Today

While Tarot cards are used throughout much of Europe to play Tarot card games, in English-speaking countries, where these games are largely unknown, Tarot cards came to be utilized primarily for divination purposes. The Tarot used as an oracle allows one to ask a question, deal the cards in a certain way, and extract an answer from the spread, images, and symbols. Part of this ability comes from familiarity with the symbols. Another element of successful reading lies in the ability to intuitively select the proper meaning for the particular question from among multiple possibilities.
The meanings of the figures and numbers on Tarot cards vary greatly among Tarot readers and advocates, many of whom find connections between Tarot and Cabala, Astrology, I Ching, Ancient Egypt, and various other occult and mystical notions.

Does Tarot Really Work?

While there are those who believe, and are convinced, that there is no justifiable validity to read any cards, (a form of divination known as Cartomancy), one only has to look at why it is being done at all.

  • First, despite what ones personal opinion of humanity might be, it is not human nature to continuously do something that does not work or return a value. That given, then why do those who use the Tarot repeatedly do it?
  • Second, the act in itself is a sign that individuals feel there is more to be known than they have been able to get from alternate forms of knowledge. (Sorry "The Sciences," just because conventional methods have not yet been able to prove or provide answers to humanity's most important questions does not mean they are not there nor that mankind is not supposed to seek them)!
  • Third, and those who use the Tarot will understand, it is a spiritual conduit driven by ones own energies. It can provide illumination, discovery, knowledge, self-development, and forebodings! To the highly skilled, it is a "switchboard" connected to the "Universal Consciousness!"

If one views the Tarot as a "tool," is it surprising that one who has little use for its purpose would get less than desirable results than one who is frequent and familiar with its use? Like the universal law and most things in this world, "you can only expect to get out of it what you are willing to put into it."

Thank you for visiting Tarotology.com! Enjoy Your journey!

"On the table in front of The Magician are the symbols of the four Tarot suits, signifying the elements of natural life, which lie like counters before the adept and he adapts them as he wills."
-- Arthur E. Waite

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