Tracing The History Of Tarot

Tarot has been around for many centuries. It is not known, when and where the Tarot actually originated. It was probably brought into Europe, by gypsies or Egyptians. Some other stories contradict these claims and suggest that Tarot was originally used by the Sufis or by Moses. But it was already in use in Europe in early 1300s. By the middle of fifteenth century, the Royal courts of Northern Italy were also using these cards.

Early Uses Of Tarot

Initially, Tarot was not used as an instrument of divination, it was used for playing a game called `Tarocco' in Italy or a new card game called `Triumphs'. This game was quite like bridge, with the exception of having 21 unique trump cards. This game became extremely popular with people of high class and made its way into Italy and France and slowly towards south into Austria, Germany etc. The trump cards saw little changes in the images and their ranks, according to the place they were played in.

Tarot For Prophecy

Around the same time, playing Tarot or Torocco started being looked down upon by the church. Towards the end of 17th century, Tarot cards started being used for predictions and fortune-telling. It all started with an occultist named Court de Gebelen, who also wrote a large book, with many volumes, discussing in detail, the meaning of imagery in Tarot. Believers of occult, across England and France, came to know of these cards and linked their mystic imagery with spiritual messages. This is when; Tarot was established as a device for gaining insight into others' future.

Tarot Decks Over Centuries

Many different decks of Tarot cards were in use in those days. These cards were hand-made and sometimes, even well-known artists like Albrecht Dürer and Bembo, designed them. Each deck had the impressions of the artist, who made them. It reflected the artist's perception of the symbols. In England, in the late 18th century, a secret group called the `Order of Golden dawn' were using Tarot. Their deck was based on the book of Thoth. In early 20th century, the BOTA deck became prevalent. It had sketches in black and white color, which were supposed to be filled in with colors by the owner of the deck.

Today, a large number of Tarot decks can be found. They have diverse themes, serving interests of different people. Among the various decks, printed today to be used for divination, the most commonly used deck, is the Rider Waite Smith Tarot. A large number of its adaptations are available today. It is also a preferred deck for beginners and novices. The present day decks are easier to assess as the pictures are strongly linked with their implication. The analyses of the pictures have also gained a new meaning over the centuries.

It is still not known, whether the depictions on the Tarot cards in the past were simply objects of game or they had a greater importance and reason. As the origin of tarot is not traceable, the available clues and the contemporary art, culture and texts of that period, are all we can rely on. This enables us to visualize the true meaning of the symbols, when they were first created. We may have adapted this ancient art according to our contemporary needs, but it remains to be a great endowment of history.

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