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tarot history
by wallyg

A Fascinating History of Tarot and Tarot Reading

Most of what I’m going to lecture from come from Cynthia Giles’ book: The Tarot, History, Mystery and Lore and some other resources.

The origins of the Tarot have been attributed a wide range of wacky sources paleolithic cave paintings, gypsy folk lore, Moroccan mystics and even gifts from space aliens to Egyptian priests!. Most of these stories are, of course, speculation of the wildest, most ridiculous kind, and only serve to muddy the waters when it comes to understanding the Tarot. If you’re going to use the cards, it’s important to understand where they come from so that you know their rich history, their potential and their value and not put faith in silly urban legends.

Tarot on parade

The first mention of the cards was in Italy in the 14th century, called “Tarocco” and used for games and already, authorities were lecturing against its use. The first known deck was made for the Vicsconzi-Sforza family of Milan, designed by the artist Bembo. According to Tarot expert Gertrude Moakley, the various characters illustrated in the major arcana represented the triomfi, or parade, that accompanied Italian celebrations.

Historians believe that there may have been other cards that existed to represent other characters but have disappeared over time. Few decks of Tarot cards exist for those early days, but there’s enough similarity in artwork to make it clear that the deck was in common use in that time. Some historians believe that the Tarot was originally only used as a gaming deck to play a game called tarocchi until occultists began using them for divination.

Taking Europe by storm

The next big milestone in Tarot’s

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