The tarot is a wonderful tool to help us unlock the answers to life that we are seeking. It has been used for hundreds of years by people all over the world as a guide to the past, present and future. The tarot can help us see things in a different light, provide answers to dilemmas and problems, and can help us get in touch with ourselves on a deeper, spiritual level.
"Tarot" refers to a family of games played with an augmented deck, (that is, decks with a fifth "suit" serving as permanent trumps), and also to the decks themselves. Most other card games using trumps select one of four regular suits to serve as trumps for a particular hand. Tarot is commonly played in various areas of Europe, and has been played in Italy since the 1440s. Outside Europe, there has been a revival of interest in Tarot card games especially amongst participants in Medieval and Renaissance re-enactments. "Tarot" also refers to similar decks that are used for fortune-telling and other esoteric purposes. In English-speaking countries, despite a slow but growing interest in Tarot's gaming heritage, fortune-telling is currently the only common use of Tarot cards, even though such use did not begin until roughly 350 years after their invention.
According to Tarot historian Tom Tadfor Little, traditional playing cards were first seen in Europe in 1375, having been brought over from the Islamic societies where they had been used for centuries before that. These cards were not, however, Tarot cards. At this point, he says, there is no evidence to show that Tarot cards had yet been created, which goes against many claims that ordinary playing cards evolved from the original Tarot deck.
It wasn't until 1440 that the cards that were most likely the origin of Tarot cards were first mentioned. In a letter from the Duke of Milan, there was a request for several decks of "triumph" cards to be used at a special event. The letter differentiated triumph cards from regular "playing" cards.
It does appear, however, that the first Tarot decks were created as a game. There were four suits with cards numbered one through ten and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called triumph that was similar to bridge. In triumph, 21 of the 22 special picture cards were permanent trump cards. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. People began referring to as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530.
In 1781, in France and England, followers of the occult discovered Tarot cards. They saw the symbolic pictures of the cards as having more meaning than the simple trump cards they were used for at the time. They used the cards as a divination tool, and occult writers wrote about "the Tarot." After this, the Tarot became a part of occult philosophy.
There are also those who believe that Tarot cards originated in Egypt. In some circles, they are thought to be the sole surviving "book" from the great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt. In this theory, the cards are considered to be the hieroglyphical keys to life.
What are Tarot cards used for?
Tarot cards can be used for practical problem-solving, creative visualisation, meditation, self-improvement, as a tool of understanding, for divination and fortune-telling, even for card games. Some collect Tarot cards simply for the joy of the artwork, while other delve further into research and study of the history of Tarot cards. Tarot Readings can show us ways of handling situations, help us to understand and solve our problems with relationships, careers, financial matters, home and family life etc...
The Tarot is more than just a set of cards, it is a book of life - a living picture book that changes every time we read it! It can help us to decide on the most suitable course of action; when to move and when to wait, or when to look in another direction entirely. Also it can show hidden agendas and solutions we may have previously overlooked.
The Tarot does not take away our free will or our ability to make the best choices for ourselves and it certainly doesn't predict a fixed unchanging future. We have free will and are always able to change the path we are on. A Tarot Reading gives us information, it does not live our lives for us.
Tarot is a window through which you can learn to see the future. It is a mirror that deeply and accurately reflects your feelings, thoughts, dreams and aspirations. It is a compass that can help guide you through the landscape of your life. The more you understand about the cards, the richer your world becomes.
The more you know about yourself, the more powerful a reader you become and the more help you can be to others.
Why are there so many types of Tarot decks?
Different artists interpret the Tarot symbols in differing ways, each adding their own perspective. There are also so many themes that can correspond with the tarot system - there are thousands of decks available, catering to many diverse interests, from baseball to voodoo. There's a Tarot deck to match just about every interest or belief.
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