Tarot cards have been used throughout history since Egyptian times. They were then used much as they are today to tell a person their past and future.
Tarot is the method of divination using 78 cards which contain on their faces pictures and symbols by connecting the reader to the collective subconscious mind. Origins of the tarot cards are unknown, but some guess the Romany (Gypsy) peoples during medieval times.
Some sources say they date back to the Egyptians. They can be used to determine a person’s past, present, or future and are used as tools in magical workings and rituals. They are divided into 22 major arcana or trump cards that show dominant occurrences and 56 minor arcana or suit cards that either aid showing Trump card situations or demonstrate smaller occurrences.
The minor arcana, or lesser secrets, are divided into four suits: wands (symbolizing action); cups (representing emotions); swords (referring to the intellect), and pentacles (indicating material concerns). The 22 major arcana, or greater secrets, depict major human archetypes and elemental forces.
The major arcana are The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, and The World. The minor arcana, divided into four suits, have ten numbered cards and four court cards: the page, the knight, the queen, and the king.
The Tarot Cards were first mentioned in a text of Martiano da Tortona. What is tarot are used in occult orders, such as The Golden Dawn, which was a influential magical order founded in 1887. Breaking up in 1903, various groups follow in the order’s footsteps. This order was based on the Quabalah, which means literally revelation.
The Quabalah first was noticed among Sephardic Jews in Medieval Spain, which corresponds to the Tarot cards appearing with gypsies. The Quabalah is a mystical translation of the Old Testament and its practices include forms of meditation: on Bible verses, the spelling and numerology or Hebrew words; and on abstract ideas contained in other ancient Jewish texts.
This tradition began with Antoine court de Gebelin, a Swiss clergyman and Freemason who asserted with his book Le Monde Primitif that The Tarot de Marseille was representative of the mysteries of Isis and Thoth, Egyptian god and goddess. He also claimed that symbolism grew from the Egyptian words tar meaning royal and ro, taken to mean road.
After the stir, Egyptologists determined no such meanings for the word and though many wish the origins of the what is tarot to be mystical it is determined that they are taken from playing cards and an added 21 trump cards and a fool. In many European countries the tarot cards are still used to play a family card game.
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