The History of Tarot Cards

Since the 14th century proofs for tarot are existing.

Mythos Tarot

There are various legends, myths and theories about the mysterious tarot. The truth about their origin and provenance is not certainly determined until today. It is supposed that the first appearance of them could have been the Near/Middle East or India. 

Egypt is one preferred supposition regarding the provenance of tarot. The symbols of tarot supposed to be found in Egypt’s pyramids. The word <tarot> derived from the word <Thoth> that was the name of the God of Magic.

First the cards were served playing cards. From the 18th century the cards obtain Spiritual significance and consequently the mystery of tarot gained the centre of common interest.  These reasons caused different theories, distinctive essays and legends about provenance, origin and content of the significance of tarot cards yet.

First Proof

From the 14th century there were significant proofs of tarot decks in Europe. They were particular mentioned in case of prohibition. So it happened that the church was not taken with tarot...Since the 15th century were some proofs in France and Italy regarding a game called <tarrock>, <tarocchi> or taraux>. Normally card packs included less than 60 cards. Regarding the Italian source the <trionfi > game was additionally mentioned. 

Various cards served parts of population to explain the rules of society. Those cards were formed and decorated more simple.[notation: so I prefer, but you can also use: <simpler>, but I don’t like that not so much] Besides of them other grandiose playing cards existed. Those cards were made for the dominant class - for instance for festiveness and festivities like wedding celebrations. Such like <Visconti Sforza game> [in the midst of 15th century]

First  Edition with 78 cards

The first deck consisting of 78 cards – such is known today – developed from the beginning of 16th century. A descending line is the <Marseilles tarot>.

During 18th century was the blossoming of tarot. As a result tarot was publishes and was played in whole Europe.

Tarot and Occultism

The cards roused awareness regarding esoteric circles. Occultists started a search for their origin and attached a secret mystery of cultures passing by.   

The Swiss Antoine Court de Gébelin [theologian and freemason – born *1719 and died in +1781] wrote about the tarot and its supposed origin in Egypt. He tried to proof this fact by the symbols of the cards. He connected myths of the ancient Egypt deity Thoth.

After that various card decks were created in old fashioned Egypt style.   

Eliphas Levi [Alphonse Louis Constant – born *1810 – 1875+] French deacon and cabbalist, referred to Jewish traditionthe cabbala - four elements of alchemy.

Further he developed a connection between the 22 cards of the great arkana and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Over time the significance and meaning of the tarot cards changed for fortune telling. Interest of freemason, lodge brothers, the templar and mystic association like <Trinity Blood> in the tarots cards roused.

The  Golden Dawn

The development of the tarot cards was decisively influenced by the <Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn> [or just: Golden Dawn].

Hence the order examined the papers of Lévis and de Gébelin in hope for findings and hidden information.


The significant authors of the most important tarot decks yet. They were members of the <the Golden Dawn>. Waite pondered on connections between an oracle, alchemist, myths of secrete messages, Bloody Trinity, Celtic symbols and knowledge. Crowley immersed in the essays and theory of de Gébelin and referred to ancient Egypt God Thoth… 


Since the 1970s’ a tarot revival has begun...yet it is still the most popular oracle.


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