The History of Tarot Cards

In the realm of divination and mysticism, tarot cards hold a special place, weaving a tapestry of history, art, and symbolism. Far from their current use in psychic readings and self-reflection, tarot cards have traversed a remarkable journey through time and cultures. This blog post delves into the intriguing history of tarot cards, exploring their origins, evolution, and enduring allure.

The Birth of Tarot: A European Genesis

The earliest known tarot decks originated in the 15th century in Europe, particularly Italy. Contrary to popular belief, these decks were not created for fortune-telling but for playing a game called 'tarocchi' – similar to modern bridge. These early decks, like the Visconti-Sforza tarot, were hand-painted, making them luxury items for the wealthy. The symbolism in these cards reflected the societal structures and religious beliefs of medieval Europe.

The Transformation into Mystical Tools

It wasn't until the 18th century that tarot cards began to be seen as tools for divination. This shift largely occurred in France and England, where scholars and mystics began to ascribe deeper meanings to the cards. Antoine Court de Gébelin, a French occultist, played a significant role in this transformation. He theorized that tarot cards held secret wisdom, possibly linked to ancient Egyptian theology and the mystical Kabbalah.

The Occult Revival: A New Layer of Symbolism

The 19th century saw a renewed interest in the occult and spirituality in Europe, particularly with the advent of the spiritualist movement. This period led to the redesigning of tarot cards, infusing them with astrological, kabbalistic, and hermetic elements.

The most famous deck from this era, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, created by A.E. Waite and artist Pamela Colman Smith, introduced detailed pictorial images in the minor arcana cards, deeply enriching the narrative and interpretative depth of readings.

Tarot in Modern Times: A Tool for Self-Reflection

In the 20th and 21st centuries, the use of tarot cards has expanded beyond divination. Many of us now use the tarot for self-reflection, mindfulness, and psychological insight. I love how modern decks embrace diverse themes and artistic styles, reflecting contemporary values and inclusivity. If you check Amazon or Etsy for tarot decks, you will see such a huge variety of different styles.

The Legacy Continues

From medieval parlors to modern-day mindfulness apps, tarot cards have maintained their mystique and appeal. Their rich history is a testament to human fascination with the unknown and the narratives we create to understand our world. Whether used for play, divination, or self-discovery, tarot cards continue to be a mirror to our collective consciousness, inviting us to explore the mysteries within and beyond.

Tarot is definitely here for good and people continue to love the tarot and how they can use it in daily life or in their role as a psychic or medium. 

Ayesha Hilton

About Ayesha Hilton

Hello! I'm Ayesha (pronounced eye-sha). I am an avid card deck lover and collector. I publish my own card decks and teach other creators how to design, print, and publish their own card decks with courses and strategy sessions. I am passionate about supporting you to express your brilliance with the world!

Have fun creating!

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