What is tarot and where did it come from?




If you find yourself on this page, you are not too shy about divination practices, or seeking knowledge of the future or unknown. These practices include but are not limited to: automatic writing, tea reading, scrying, sand divination, and yes, tarot. Like many spiritual practices, the origin of tarot cards varies depending on who you ask. It is said to have been created between the 14th and 15th centuries in Italy, the first deck being called Visconti-Sforza Tarot. However, the deck was not completed until years later when the minor arcana (arcana means mysteries) was incorporated. A standard deck consists of 78 cards, each one portraying both conscious and subconscious parts of life through the use of symbolic images.


The major arcana is said to be inspired by The Book of Thoth, an Egyptian book that explores scribal craft, the underworld, wisdom, animal knowledge, and temple ritual (Alexander and Shannon 12). The minor arcana comes from an Italian bride-like game, Tarocchi. The relationship between tarot and numerology is said to have a tie with Greek mathematician Pythagoras, whose followers credited him with creating the Pythagorean theorem, which you may recall learning in your high school math class. The Catholic church deemed tarot cards as “the devil’s picture book,” which is why people began practicing in secret (Alexander and Shannon 12). So if you practice tarot today, be super thankful because it wasn’t always the safest thing to do.


The original Rider-Waite tarot deck, created by British artist Pamela Colman Smith in 1909, is the most used and remade deck today. Tarot has become one of the most popular divination practices, and over 7,000 decks have been created with a twist on the original Waite drawings. Despite the origin being debatable and the existence of numerous remade decks, the meaning behind these cards remains the same. Tarot is not just about pulling cards though; there are many spreads that one can incorporate in a reading in order to offer more effective insight. We will be discussing different spreads in this series as well.


However, before we dive into these meanings and interpretations, we must first address intuition. Just because these cards have set meanings and symbolism does not mean throw your intuition out the window. You will see as we continue this series how important it is to be open-minded when reading/channeling for yourself or others. When you look at the image, what do you see and feel? An effective reader is one who understands the terms of the cards while also incorporating intuitive messages. A great way to start practicing tarot is to pull a daily card; this can be the card of the day or give insight into a situation in your life.


I hope that as we continue throughout this series you get more comfortable with your cards and channeling abilities!




Symone Smith, : @aquaacunt on Twitter and IG


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