The History of Tarot Cards

Tarot Cards Have Existed Since the 14th Century
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Tarot Myths

There are various legends, myths, and theories about the mysterious Tarot. The truth about their exact origin is not known. Many suspect that their first appearance could have been in the Near/Middle East or India. 

Egypt is popularly thought to be the origin of the Tarot. The symbols of tarot are possibly found in Egypt’s pyramids. The word "Tarot" derived from the word "Thoth "  - after the God of Magic .


First, the cards served as playing cards. From the 18th century, the cards obtained Spiritual significance and consequently, the mystery of the Tarot gained the center of common interest.  These reasons caused different theories, distinctive essays, and legends about their exact origin and meaning.

First Sightings

From the 14th century, there is significant proof of Tarot decks existing in Europe. They were particularly mentioned in the case of prohibition. The church was not taken with the Tarot. In the 15th century there was some proof in France and Italy regarding a game called <Tarrock >, <Tarocchi > or <Taraux >. Normally, Tarot card packs included less than 60 cards . Regarding the Italian source, the <Trionfi > game was additionally mentioned. 

Various cards served parts of the population to explain the rules of society . Those cards were formed and decorated in a more basic way. Besides them, other grandiose playing cards existed. Those cards were made for the dominant, wealthier class - for instance, for festiveness and festivities like wedding celebrations. Such as the <Visconti Sforza game > in the midst of the 15th century. 


First Edition with 78 cards

The first deck consisted of 78 cards, just like today, and developed from the beginning of the 16th century . A descending line is the <Marseilles Tarot >.

Tarot blossomed during the 18th century. As a result, it was published and played throughout Europe.

Tarot and Occultism

The cards roused awareness among esoteric circles. Occultists started a search for their origin and attached a secret mystery from different cultures.   

The Swiss Antoine Court de Gébelin [theologian and Freemason – born on the 7th of January, 1725 and died on 12 May, 1784] wrote about the Tarot and its supposed origin in Egypt. He tried to prove this fact by the symbols of the cards. He connected myths of the ancient Egyptian deity Thoth.

After that, various card decks were created in the old-fashioned Egyptian style.   

Eliphas Levi [Alphonse Louis Constant – born on the 8th of February, 1810 and died on the 31st of May, 1875] was a French deacon and kabbalist. This referred to Jewish traditionthe Kabala - and the four elements of alchemy .

Furthermore, he developed a connection between the 22 cards of the great Arcana and the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet .

Over time, the significance and meaning of the Tarot cards changed among fortune-tellers. The Tarot roused the interest of Freemasons, lodge brothers, the templar, and mystic associations like <Trinity Blood >.


The  Golden Dawn

The development of 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 the hope of finding meaning and hidden information.

There were 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 secret messages, Bloody Trinity, Celtic symbols and knowledge. Crowley immersed in the essays and theory of de Gébelin and referred to the ancient Egypt God Thoth ...


Since the 1970s’ a Tarot revival is still the most popular oracle.

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