Tarot
Overview
 
The tarot is a pack of cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 to play a group of card games
Tarot, tarock and tarocchi games
Tarot, tarock, tarocchi, etc., are a group of card games played with the tarot deck. The first basic rules appear in the manuscript of Martiano da Tortona written before 1425...

 such as Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 tarocchini
Tarocchini
Tarocchini, the diminutive form of Tarocco, referring to the reduction of the Bolognese pack from 78 to 62 cards, which probably occurred in the early 16th century, also known as Partita, is a point trick-taking Tarot card game from the 17th century....

 and French tarot. From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and occultists in efforts at divination
Divinatory, esoteric and occult tarot
Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the past, current and possible future situations of the subject , i.e. cartomancy. Some believe they are guided by a spiritual force, while others believe the cards help them tap into a collective unconscious...

 or as a map of mental and spiritual pathways.

The tarot has four suits
Suit (cards)
In playing cards, a suit is one of several categories into which the cards of a deck are divided. Most often, each card bears one of several symbols showing to which suit it belongs; the suit may alternatively or in addition be indicated by the color printed on the card...

 (which vary by region, being the familiar French suits in Northern Europe, the Spanish suits in Southern Europe, and the German suits in Central Europe).
Encyclopedia
The tarot is a pack of cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 to play a group of card games
Tarot, tarock and tarocchi games
Tarot, tarock, tarocchi, etc., are a group of card games played with the tarot deck. The first basic rules appear in the manuscript of Martiano da Tortona written before 1425...

 such as Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 tarocchini
Tarocchini
Tarocchini, the diminutive form of Tarocco, referring to the reduction of the Bolognese pack from 78 to 62 cards, which probably occurred in the early 16th century, also known as Partita, is a point trick-taking Tarot card game from the 17th century....

 and French tarot. From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and occultists in efforts at divination
Divinatory, esoteric and occult tarot
Tarot reading revolves around the belief that the cards can be used to gain insight into the past, current and possible future situations of the subject , i.e. cartomancy. Some believe they are guided by a spiritual force, while others believe the cards help them tap into a collective unconscious...

 or as a map of mental and spiritual pathways.

The tarot has four suits
Suit (cards)
In playing cards, a suit is one of several categories into which the cards of a deck are divided. Most often, each card bears one of several symbols showing to which suit it belongs; the suit may alternatively or in addition be indicated by the color printed on the card...

 (which vary by region, being the familiar French suits in Northern Europe, the Spanish suits in Southern Europe, and the German suits in Central Europe). Each of these suits has pip cards numbering from ace to ten and four face cards for a total of 14 cards. In addition, the tarot is distinguished by a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool. Depending on the game, the Fool may act as the top trump or may be played to avoid following suit.

François Rabelais
François Rabelais
François Rabelais was a major French Renaissance writer, doctor, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar. He has historically been regarded as a writer of fantasy, satire, the grotesque, bawdy jokes and songs...

 gives tarau as the name of one of the games played by Gargantua in his Gargantua and Pantagruel
Gargantua and Pantagruel
The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel is a connected series of five novels written in the 16th century by François Rabelais. It is the story of two giants, a father and his son and their adventures, written in an amusing, extravagant, satirical vein...

; this is likely the earliest attestation of the French form of the name. Tarot cards are used throughout much of Europe to play card games. In English-speaking countries
Anglosphere
Anglosphere is a neologism which refers to those nations with English as the most common language. The term can be used more specifically to refer to those nations which share certain characteristics within their cultures based on a linguistic heritage, through being former British colonies...

, where these games are largely unknown, tarot cards are now used primarily for divinatory
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

 purposes. Occultists call the trump cards and the Fool "the major arcana
Major Arcana
The Major Arcana or trumps are a suit of twenty-two cards in the tarot deck. They serve as a permanent trump suit in games played with the tarot deck, and are distinguished from the four standard suits collectively known as the Minor Arcana...

" while the ten pip and four court cards in each suit are called minor arcana
Minor Arcana
|thumb|[[King of Swords]] card from a Minor Arcana deckThe Minor Arcana of occult or divinatory tarot refers to the portion of a Tarot deck that consists of 56 cards. The Minor Arcana are roughly similar to the cards found in a common deck of playing cards...

. The cards are traced by some occult writers to ancient Egypt or the Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 but there is no documented evidence of such origins or of the usage of tarot for divination before the 18th century.

Etymology

The English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 word tarot derives from the Italian tarocchi, which has no known origin or etymology
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

. One theory relates the name "tarot" to the Taro River in northern Italy, near Parma
Parma
Parma is a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna famous for its ham, its cheese, its architecture and the fine countryside around it. This is the home of the University of Parma, one of the oldest universities in the world....

; the game seems to have originated in northern Italy, in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

 or Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

. Other writers believe it comes from the Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 word طرق turuq, which means 'four pathways'. Alternatively, it may be from the Arabic ترك taraka, 'to leave, abandon, omit, leave behind'. According to a French etymology, the Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...

 tarocco derived from Arabic طرح ṭarḥ, 'rejection; subtraction, deduction, discount'.

There is also the question of whether the word tarot is related to Harut and Marut
Harut and Marut
Harut and Marut are two angels mentioned in the second Surah of the Qur'an, who were sent down to test the people at Babel or Babylon by performing deeds of magic....

, who were mentioned in a short account in the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

. According to this account, a group of Israelites learned magic, for demonstration and to test them, from two angels called Harut and Marut, and it adds that this knowledge of magic would be passed on to others by the devil. What can be taken into account here is the phonetic resemblance of tarot تاروت to Harut هاروت and Marut ماروت.

History

Playing cards first entered Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 in the late 14th century, probably from Mamluk Egypt
Mamluk Sultanate (Cairo)
The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt was the final independent Egyptian state prior to the establishment of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty in 1805. It lasted from the overthrow of the Ayyubid Dynasty until the Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The sultanate's ruling caste was composed of Mamluks, Arabised...

, with suits very similar to the tarot suits of Swords, Staves, Cups and Coins (also known as disks, and pentacle
Pentacle
A pentacle is an amulet used in magical evocation, generally made of parchment, paper or metal , on which the symbol of a spirit or energy being evoked is drawn. It is often worn around the neck, or placed within the triangle of evocation...

s) and those still used in traditional Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 decks. The first documentary evidence is a ban on their use in 1367, Bern, Switzerland. Wide use of playing cards in Europe can, with some certainty, be traced from 1377 onwards.

The first known tarot cards were created between 1430 and 1450 in Milan
Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

, Ferrara
Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 and Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 in northern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 when additional trump cards with allegorical illustration
Illustration
An illustration is a displayed visualization form presented as a drawing, painting, photograph or other work of art that is created to elucidate or dictate sensual information by providing a visual representation graphically.- Early history :The earliest forms of illustration were prehistoric...

s were added to the common four-suit pack. These new decks were originally called carte da trionfi, triumph cards, and the additional cards known simply as trionfi
Trionfi (cards)
Trionfi, Italian name for playing cards with allegorical content, were probably used for a game of trumps in the 15th century. One typus of the Trionfi decks developed to the Tarot cards.-Name:...

, which became "trumps" in English. The first literary evidence of the existence of carte da trionfi is a written statement in the court records in Ferrara, in 1442. The oldest surviving tarot cards are from fifteen fragmented decks painted in the mid 15th century for the Visconti-Sforza family, the rulers of Milan.

Divination using playing cards is in evidence as early as 1540 in a book entitled The Oracles of Francesco Marcolino da Forli which allows a simple method of divination, though the cards are used only to select a random oracle and have no meaning in themselves. But manuscripts from 1735 (The Square of Sevens) and 1750 (Pratesi Cartomancer) document rudimentary divinatory meanings for the cards of the tarot as well as a system for laying out the cards. Giacomo Casanova
Giacomo Casanova
Giacomo Girolamo Casanova de Seingalt was an Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice. His autobiography, Histoire de ma vie , is regarded as one of the most authentic sources of the customs and norms of European social life during the 18th century...

 wrote in his diary that in 1765 his Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n mistress frequently used a deck of playing cards for divination.

Early decks

Picture-card packs are first mentioned by Martiano da Tortona probably between 1418 and 1425, since the painter he mentions, Michelino da Besozzo
Michelino Molinari da Besozzo
Michelino Molinari da Besozzo was an Italian painter and illuminator. He worked mostly in Milan and Lombardy.-Biography:...

, returned to Milan in 1418, while Martiano himself died in 1425. He describes a deck with 16 picture cards with images of the Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 gods and suits depicting four kinds of birds, not the common suits. However the 16 cards were obviously regarded as "trumps" as, about 25 years later, Jacopo Antonio Marcello called them a ludus triumphorum, or "game of trumps".

Special motifs on cards added to regular packs show philosophical
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

, social
Social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

, poetical
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, astronomical
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, and heraldic
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 ideas, Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

/Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

/Babylonian heroes, as in the case of the Sola-Busca-Tarocchi (1491) and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem, written at an unknown date between 1461 and 1494.

Two playing card decks from Milan (the Brera-Brambrilla and Cary-Yale-Tarocchi)—extant, but fragmentary—were made circa 1440. Three documents dating from 1 January 1441 to July 1442, use the term trionfi. The document from January 1441 is regarded as an unreliable reference; however, the same painter, Sagramoro, was commissioned by the same patron, Leonello d'Este, as in the February 1442 document. The game seemed to gain in importance in the year 1450, a Jubilee
Jubilee (Christian)
The concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon. In the Biblical Book of Leviticus, a Jubilee year is mentioned to occur every fifty years, in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts would be forgiven and the mercies of God would be particularly...

 year in Italy, which saw many festivities and the movement of many pilgrims.

Three mid-15th century sets were made for members of the Visconti family. The first deck, and probably the prototype, is called the Cary-Yale Tarot (or Visconti-Modrone Tarot) and was created between 1442 and 1447 by an anonymous painter for Filippo Maria Visconti. The cards (only 66) are today in the Cary collection of the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale University, in the U.S. state of Connecticut. The most famous was painted in the mid-15th century, to celebrate Francesco Sforza and his wife Bianca Maria Visconti, daughter of the duke Filippo Maria. Probably, these cards were painted by Bonifacio Bembo
Bonifacio Bembo
thumb|Portrait of Francesco Sforza. ca. 1460.Tempera on panel, 40 x 31 cm. [[Pinacoteca di Brera]], Milan.Bonifacio Bembo was an Italian painter and miniaturist of the early-Renaissance period....

 or Francesco Zavattari between 1451 and 1453. Of the original cards, 35 are in The Morgan Library & Museum, 26 are at the Accademia Carrara
Accademia Carrara
The Accademia Carrara is an art gallery and an academy of fine arts in Bergamo, Italy.-History:The origins of the art gallery lie with the Count Giacomo Carrara, a wealthy collector and patron of the arts, who left a generous legacy to the city of Bergamo at the end of the 18th century.After the...

, 13 are at the Casa Colleoni and four: 'The Devil', 'The Tower', 'Money's Horse (The Chariot)' and '3 of Spades', are lost or else never made. This "Visconti-Sforza" deck, which has been widely reproduced, reflects conventional iconography of the time to a significant degree.

Hand-painted tarot cards remained a privilege of the upper classes and, although some sermons inveighing against the evil inherent in cards can be traced to the 14th century, most civil governments did not routinely condemn tarot cards during tarot's early history. In fact, in some jurisdictions, tarot cards were specifically exempted from laws otherwise prohibiting the playing of cards.

Because the earliest tarot cards were hand-painted, the number of the decks produced is thought to have been rather small, and it was only after the invention of the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 that mass production of cards became possible. Decks survive from this era from various cities in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and the most popular pattern of these early printed decks comes from the southern city of Marseilles, after which it is named the Tarot de Marseilles.

Tarot, tarock and tarocchi games

The original purpose of tarot cards was for playing games, the first basic rules appearing in the manuscript of Martiano da Tortona before 1425, and the next from the year 1637. The game of tarot has many cultural variations. In Italy the game has become less popular. One version named Tarocco Bolognese: Otocento has survived and there are still others played in Piedmont; but the number of games outside of Italy is much higher. The French tarot game is the most popular in its native country and regional tarot games—often known as tarock, tarok, or tarokk—are widely played in central Europe.

Divinatory, esoteric, and occult tarot

Tarot cards would later become associated with mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 and magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

. Tarot was not widely adopted by mystics, occultists and secret societies until the 18th and 19th centuries. The tradition began in 1781, when Antoine Court de Gébelin
Antoine Court de Gebelin
Antoine Court who named himself Antoine Court de Gébelin was a former Protestant pastor, born at Nîmes, who initiated the interpretation of the Tarot as an arcane repository of timeless esoteric wisdom in 1781.-Early life:...

, a Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 clergy
Clergy
Clergy is the generic term used to describe the formal religious leadership within a given religion. A clergyman, churchman or cleric is a member of the clergy, especially one who is a priest, preacher, pastor, or other religious professional....

man, published Le Monde Primitif, a speculative study which included religious symbolism
Religious symbolism
Religious symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork, events, or natural phenomena, by a religion. Religions view religious texts, rituals, and works of art as symbols of compelling ideas or ideals...

 and its survival in the modern world. De Gébelin first asserted that symbolism of the Tarot de Marseille represented the mysteries of Isis
Isis
Isis or in original more likely Aset is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the matron of nature and magic...

 and Thoth
Thoth
Thoth was considered one of the more important deities of the Egyptian pantheon. In art, he was often depicted as a man with the head of an ibis or a baboon, animals sacred to him. His feminine counterpart was Seshat...

. Gébelin further claimed that the name "tarot" came from the Egyptian
Egyptian language
Egyptian is the oldest known indigenous language of Egypt and a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Written records of the Egyptian language have been dated from about 3400 BC, making it one of the oldest recorded languages known. Egyptian was spoken until the late 17th century AD in the...

 words tar, meaning "royal", and ro, meaning "road", and that the Tarot therefore represented a "royal road" to wisdom. De Gébelin wrote this treatise before Jean-François Champollion
Jean-François Champollion
Jean-François Champollion was a French classical scholar, philologist and orientalist, decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs....

 had deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs, or indeed before the Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek...

 had been discovered, and later Egyptologists
Egyptology
Egyptology is the study of ancient Egyptian history, language, literature, religion, and art from the 5th millennium BC until the end of its native religious practices in the AD 4th century. A practitioner of the discipline is an “Egyptologist”...

 found nothing in the Egyptian language to support de Gébelin's fanciful etymologies
Etymology
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...

. Despite this, the identification of the tarot cards with the Egyptian Book of Thoth  was already firmly established in occult practice and continues in modern urban legend
Urban legend
An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend, is a form of modern folklore consisting of stories that may or may not have been believed by their tellers to be true...

 to the present day.

Literature

Tarot was used as early as the 16th century to compose poems, called "tarocchi appropriati", describing ladies of the court or famous personages. In modern literature, two exceptional examples of novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

s centered on the tarot are The Greater Trumps (1932) by Charles Williams
Charles Williams (UK writer)
Charles Walter Stansby Williams was a British poet, novelist, theologian, literary critic, and member of the Inklings.- Biography :...

 and Il castello dei destini incrociati (1969) (English translation: The Castle of Crossed Destinies
The Castle of Crossed Destinies
The Castle of Crossed Destinies is a 1973 novel by the Italian writer Italo Calvino. Its narrative details a meeting among travelers who are inexplicably unable to speak after traveling through a forest. The characters in the novel recount their tales via Tarot cards, which are reconstructed by...

[1979]) by Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino
Italo Calvino was an Italian journalist and writer of short stories and novels. His best known works include the Our Ancestors trilogy , the Cosmicomics collection of short stories , and the novels Invisible Cities and If on a winter's night a traveler .Lionised in Britain and the United States,...

. In the former, the tarot is used by the main characters to move through space and time, create matter, and raise powerful natural storms. In the latter, Mediaeval travellers meeting at a castle are inexplicably unable to speak, and use a tarot deck to describe their stories, which are reconstructed by the narrator, calling forth implications of the nature of communication, fate, and the presence of the transcendent in daily life.

Psychoanalysis

Carl Jung
Carl Jung
Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as "by nature religious" and make it the focus of exploration. Jung is one of the best known researchers in the field of dream analysis and...

 was the first psychoanalyst to attach importance to tarot symbolism. He may have regarded the tarot cards as representing archetypes
Jungian archetypes
Carl Jung created the archetypes which “are ancient or archaic images that derive from the collective unconscious” Also known as innate universal psychic dispositions that form the substrate from which the basic symbols or representations of unconscious experience emerge...

: fundamental types of persons or situations embedded in the collective unconscious of all human beings. The theory of archetypes gives rise to several psychoanalytical uses. Since the cards represent these different archetypes within each individual, ideas of the subject's self-perception can be gained by asking them to select a card that they 'identify with'. Equally, the subject can try to clarify the situation by imagining it in terms of the archetypal ideas associated with each card. For instance, someone rushing in heedlessly like the Knight of Swords, or blindly keeping the world at bay like the Rider-Waite-Smith Two of Swords
Two of Swords
Two of Swords is a Minor Arcana tarot card.Tarot cards are used throughout much of Europe to play tarot card games.In English-speaking countries, where the games are largely unknown, Tarot cards came to be utilized primarily for divinatory purposes....

.

More recently Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary
Timothy Francis Leary was an American psychologist and writer, known for his advocacy of psychedelic drugs. During a time when drugs like LSD and psilocybin were legal, Leary conducted experiments at Harvard University under the Harvard Psilocybin Project, resulting in the Concord Prison...

 has suggested that the tarot trump cards are a pictorial representation of human development from infant to adult, with the Fool symbolizing the newborn infant, the Magician symbolizing the stage at which an infant begins to play with artifacts, etc. In Leary's view the tarot trumps may be viewed as a blueprint for the human race as it matures.

Varieties

A variety of styles of tarot decks and designs exist and a number of typical regional patterns have emerged. Historically, one of the most important designs is the one usually known as the Tarot de Marseilles. This standard pattern was the one studied by Court de Gébelin, and cards based on this style illustrate his Le Monde primitif. The Tarot de Marseilles was also popularized in the 20th century by Paul Marteau. Some current editions of cards based on the Marseilles design go back to a deck of a particular Marseilles design that was printed by Nicolas Conver in 1760. Other regional styles include the "Swiss
Troccas
Troccas is a member of the Tarot family of card games.It is played in the Romansh speaking part of the canton Grisons of Switzerland.It is not known exactly how this game entered Switzerland but it is generally thought to have arrived from Italy during the 17th century.Troccas decks are sometimes...

" Tarot. This one substitutes Juno
Juno (mythology)
Juno is an ancient Roman goddess, the protector and special counselor of the state. She is a daughter of Saturn and sister of the chief god Jupiter and the mother of Mars and Vulcan. Juno also looked after the women of Rome. Her Greek equivalent is Hera...

 and Jupiter for the Papess, or High Priestess
The High Priestess
The High Priestess is the second trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. This card is used in game playing as well as in divination. In the first Tarot pack with inscriptions, the 18th-century woodcut Marseilles Tarot, this figure is crowned with the Papal tiara and labelled La...

 and the Pope, or Hierophant
The Hierophant
The Hierophant , in some decks named The Pope, is the fifth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.-Description and symbolism:...

. In Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 an expanded deck called Minchiate
Minchiate
Minchiate is a late-medieval card game, probably originating in 15th-century Florence, Italy. It is no longer widely played. Minchiate can also refer to the special deck of playing cards used in the game. The deck is closely related to the tarot cards, but contains an expanded suit of trumps. The...

was used. This deck of 96 cards includes astrological
Astrology
Astrology consists of a number of belief systems which hold that there is a relationship between astronomical phenomena and events in the human world...

 symbols including the four elements, as well as traditional tarot motifs.

Some decks exist primarily as artwork; and such art decks sometimes contain only the 22 trump cards.

French suited tarots

French suited tarot cards began to appear in Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 during the 18th century. The first generation of French suited tarots depicted scenes of animals on the trumps and were thus called "Tiertarock" decks ('Tier' being German for 'animal'). Card maker Göbl of Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 is often credited for this design innovation. French suited tarot cards are a modern deck used for the tarot/tarock card games commonly played in France and central Europe. The symbolism of French suited tarot trumps depart considerably from the older Italian suited design. With very few exceptional recent cases such as the Tarocchi di Alan, Tarot of Reincarnation and the Tarot de la Nature, French suited tarot cards are nearly exclusively used for card games and rarely for divination.

Non-occult Italian-suited tarot decks

These were the oldest form of tarot deck to be made, being first devised in the 15th century in northern Italy. The occult tarot decks are based on decks of this type. Four decks of this category are still used to play certain games:
  • The Tarocco Piemontese
    Tarocco Piemontese
    The Tarocco Piemontese is a type of tarot deck of Italian origin, consisting of the four suits of swords, batons, cups, and coins, each headed by a king, queen, cavalier and jack, followed by numerals 10 down to 1...

    consists of the four suits of swords, batons, clubs and coins, each headed by a king, queen, cavalier and jack, followed by numerals 10 down to 1. The trumps rank as follows: The Angel (20—although it only bears the second-highest number, it is nonetheless the highest), the World (21), the Sun (19), the Moon (18), the Star (17), the Tower (16), the Devil (15), Temperance (14), death (13), the Hanged Man (12), Strength (11), the Wheel of Fortune (10), the Hermit (9), Justice (8), the Chariot (7), the Lovers (6), the Pope (5), the Emperor (4), the Empress (3), the Popess (2) and the Bagatto (1). There is also the Fool (Matto).
  • The Tarot de Besançon and the Swiss Tarot 1JJ
    Troccas
    Troccas is a member of the Tarot family of card games.It is played in the Romansh speaking part of the canton Grisons of Switzerland.It is not known exactly how this game entered Switzerland but it is generally thought to have arrived from Italy during the 17th century.Troccas decks are sometimes...

    are similar, but are of a different graphical design, and replaces the Pope with Jupiter, the Popess with Juno, and the Angel with the Judgement. The trumps rank in numerical order and the Tower is known as the House of God.
  • The Tarocco Bolognese omits numeral cards two to five in plain suits, leaving it with 62 cards, and has somewhat different trumps, not all of which are numbered and four of which are equal in rank. It has a different graphical design.
  • The Tarocco Siciliano changes some of the trumps, and replaces the 21 with a card labeled Miseria (destitution). It omits the Two and Three of coins, and numerals one to four in batons, swords and cups: it thus has 64 cards. The cards are quite small and, again, of a different graphical design.[9]


Occult tarot decks

Etteilla
Etteilla
"Etteilla," the pseudonym of Jean-Baptiste Alliette , was the French occultist who was the first to popularise tarot divination to a wide audience , and therefore the first professional tarot occultist known to history who made his living by card divination...

 was the first to issue a revised tarot deck specifically designed for occult purposes rather than game playing. In keeping with the belief that tarot cards are derived from the Book of Thoth
The Book of Thoth
The Book of Thoth is a book containing magical spells that appears in an ancient Egyptian story from the Ptolemaic period. The book is said to have been written by Thoth, the god of writing and knowledge...

, Etteilla's tarot contained themes related to ancient Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

.
The 78-card tarot deck used by esotericists has two distinct parts:
  • The Major Arcana
    Major Arcana
    The Major Arcana or trumps are a suit of twenty-two cards in the tarot deck. They serve as a permanent trump suit in games played with the tarot deck, and are distinguished from the four standard suits collectively known as the Minor Arcana...

    (greater secrets), or trump cards, consists of 22 cards without suits: The Magician
    The Magician (Tarot card)
    The Magician, The Magus, or The Juggler is the first trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination...

    , The High Priestess
    The High Priestess
    The High Priestess is the second trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. This card is used in game playing as well as in divination. In the first Tarot pack with inscriptions, the 18th-century woodcut Marseilles Tarot, this figure is crowned with the Papal tiara and labelled La...

    , The Empress
    The Empress (Tarot card)
    The Empress is the third trump or Major Arcana card in traditional Tarot decks. It is used in Tarot card games as well as divination.- Description and symbolism :...

    , The Emperor
    The Emperor (Tarot card)
    The Emperor is the fourth trump or Major Arcana card in traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description and symbolism :...

    , The Hierophant
    The Hierophant
    The Hierophant , in some decks named The Pope, is the fifth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.-Description and symbolism:...

    , The Lovers
    The Lovers
    The Lovers is the sixth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Interpretation :...

    , The Chariot
    The Chariot (Tarot card)
    The Chariot is the seventh trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.-Description:...

    , Strength
    Strength (Tarot card)
    Strength is a Major Arcana Tarot card, and is numbered either XI or VIII, depending on the deck. Historically it was called Fortitude, and in the Thoth Tarot deck it is called Lust. This card is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description and usage as in divination :A. E...

    , The Hermit
    The Hermit
    The Hermit is the ninth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description :A. E. Waite was a key figure in the development of modern Tarot interpretations...

    , Wheel of Fortune
    Wheel of Fortune (Tarot card)
    Wheel of Fortune is the tenth trump or Major Arcana card in most Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.-Description:To the right is the Wheel Of Fortune card from the A. E. Waite tarot deck. A. E...

    , Justice
    Justice (Tarot card)
    Justice is a Major Arcana Tarot card, numbered either VIII or XI, depending on the deck. This card is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description :...

    , The Hanged Man, Death
    Death (Tarot card)
    Death is the thirteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks.It is used in Tarot, tarock and tarocchi games as well as in divination.-Description:...

    , Temperance
    Temperance (Tarot card)
    Temperance is the fourteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description :...

    , The Devil
    The Devil (Tarot card)
    The Devil is the fifteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Symbolism :...

    , The Tower
    The Tower (Tarot card)
    The Tower is the sixteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most cartomancy Tarot decks. It is not used as part of any game.- History :...

    , The Star
    The Star (Tarot card)
    The Star is the seventeenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.- Description :...

    , The Moon
    The Moon (Tarot card)
    The Moon is the eighteenth trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks. It is used in game playing as well as in divination.-Symbolism:* Two large, foreboding pillars are shown...

    , The Sun
    The Sun (Tarot card)
    The Sun is a trump card in the tarot deck. Tarot trumps are often called Major Arcana by tarot card readers.-Rider-Waite symbolism:A. E. Waite suggested that this card is associated with attained knowledge. An infant rides a white horse under the anthropomorphized sun, with sunflowers in the...

    , Judgement
    Judgement (Tarot card)
    Judgement , or in some decks spelled Judgment, is a Tarot card, part of the Major Arcana suit usually comprising 22 cards.-Rider-Waite symbolism:Very clearly, it is modeled after the Christian Resurrection before the Last Judgment...

    , The World
    The World (Tarot card)
    The World is a trump or Major Arcana card in the tarot deck. It is usually the final card of the Major Arcana or tarot trump sequence. In the tarot family of card games, this card is usually worth five points.- Description :...

    , and The Fool
    The Fool (Tarot card)
    The Fool or The Jester is one of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck; one of the 22 Trump cards that make up the Major Arcana. The Fool is unnumbered...

    .

  • The Minor Arcana
    Minor Arcana
    |thumb|[[King of Swords]] card from a Minor Arcana deckThe Minor Arcana of occult or divinatory tarot refers to the portion of a Tarot deck that consists of 56 cards. The Minor Arcana are roughly similar to the cards found in a common deck of playing cards...

    (lesser secrets) consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits of 14 cards each; ten numbered cards and four court cards. The court cards are the King, Queen, Knight and Page/Jack, in each of the four tarot suits. The traditional Italian tarot suits are swords
    Suit of swords
    The Suit of Swords is a suit found in playing cards using the Italian and Spanish suits. It is also found in Latin Suited Tarot Cards. It's equivalent to Spades in Anglo-American playing cards.The suit represents the Second Estate ....

    , batons/wands
    Suit of wands
    In tarot, the suit of wands or batons can be used like one of the suits of playing cards or as a divination tool. It corresponds to the suit of clubs in conventional playing cards....

    , coins
    Suit of coins
    The Suit of Coins or Pentacles is used in Latin suited playing cards, including tarot decks, and corresponds to the suit of diamonds in conventional playing cards. In divinatory and occult tarot it is part of what is called the "Minor Arcana"...

     and cups
    Suit of cups
    The suit of cups is one of the four suits of Latin-suited playing cards, such as tarot. The suit of hearts is derived from the suit of cups. These are sometimes referred to as chalices as well as cups. The element of cups is water, and the suit of cups pertains to situations and events of an...

    ; in modern tarot decks, however, the batons suit is often called wands, rods or staves, while the coins suit is often called pentacles or disks.


The terms "major arcana" and "minor arcana" were first used by Jean Baptiste Pitois
Jean Baptiste Pitois
Jean Baptiste Pitois, also known as Jean Baptiste or Paul Christian was a French author, known for The History and Practice of Magic, first published in France in 1870.-Life:...

 (also known as Paul Christian) and are never used in relation to Tarot card games.

Tarot is often used in conjunction with the study of the Hermetic Qabalah
Hermetic Qabalah
Hermetic Qabalah is a Western esoteric and mystical tradition...

. In these decks all the cards are illustrated in accordance with Kabbalistic principles, most being under the influence of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck and bearing illustrated scenes on all the suit cards. The images on the 'Rider-Waite' deck were drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith
Pamela Colman Smith
Pamela Colman Smith , also nicknamed Pixie, was an artist, illustrator, and writer. She is best known for designing the Waite-Smith deck of divinatory tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite.-Biography:Smith was born in Pimlico, Middlesex , England the only child of an...

, to the instructions of Christian mystic and occultist Arthur Edward Waite
Arthur Edward Waite
Arthur Edward Waite was a scholarly mystic who wrote extensively on occult and esoteric matters, and was the co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. As his biographer, R.A...

, and were originally published by the Rider Company in 1910. This deck is considered a simple, user friendly one but nevertheless its imagery, especially in the Major Arcana, is complex and replete with esoteric symbolism. The subjects of the Major Arcana are based on those of the earliest decks, but have been significantly modified to reflect Waite and Smith's view of tarot. An important difference from Marseilles style decks is that Smith drew scenes with esoteric meanings on the suit cards. However the Rider-Waite wasn't the first deck to include completely illustrated suit cards. The first to do so was the 15th century Sola-Busca deck.

Older decks such as the Visconti-Sforza and Marseilles are less detailed than modern esoteric decks. A Marseilles type deck is usually distinguished by having repetitive motifs on the pip cards, similar to Italian or Spanish playing cards, as opposed to the full scenes found on "Rider-Waite
Rider-Waite tarot deck
The Rider-Waite tarot deck is the most popular Tarot deck in use today in the English-speaking world . Other suggested names for this include the Rider-Waite-Smith, Waite-Smith, Waite-Colman Smith or simply the Rider deck...

" style decks. These more simply illustrated "Marseilles
Tarot of Marseilles
The Tarot of Marseilles , also widely known by the French designation Tarot de Marseille, is one of the standard patterns for the design of tarot cards...

" style decks are also used esoterically, for divination, and for game play, though the French card game of tarot is now generally played using a relatively modern 19th century design of German origin. Such playing tarot decks generally have twenty one trump cards with genre scenes from 19th century life, a Fool, and have court and pip cards that closely resemble today's French playing cards.

The Marseilles style tarot decks generally feature numbered minor arcana cards that look very much like the pip cards of modern playing card decks. The Marseilles' numbered minor arcana cards do not have scenes depicted on them; rather, they sport a geometric arrangement of the number of suit symbols (e.g., swords, rods/wands, cups, coins/pentacles) corresponding to the number of the card (accompanied by botanical and other non-scenic flourishes), while the court cards are often illustrated with flat, two-dimensional drawings.

A widely used modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 esoteric tarot deck is Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley
Aleister Crowley , born Edward Alexander Crowley, and also known as both Frater Perdurabo and The Great Beast, was an influential English occultist, astrologer, mystic and ceremonial magician, responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. He was also successful in various other...

's Thoth Tarot
Thoth tarot deck
The Thoth Tarot is a divinatory tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from Aleister Crowley. Crowley referred to this deck as The Book of Thoth, and also wrote a book of that title intended for use with the deck....

 (Thoth pronounced ˈ or ˈ). Crowley, at the height of a lifetime's work dedicated to occultism, engaged the artist Lady Frieda Harris
Frieda Harris
[Marguerite] Frieda Harris was an artist, an occult magician, and, after she met him at age 60, an associate and friend of the author and occultist Aleister Crowley...

 to paint the cards for the deck according to his specifications. His system of tarot correspondences, published in The Book of Thoth & Liber 777, are an evolution and expansion upon that which he learned in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was a magical order active in Great Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which practiced theurgy and spiritual development...

.

In contrast to the Thoth deck's colorfulness, the illustrations on Paul Foster Case
Paul Foster Case
Paul Foster Case was an American occultist of the early 20th century and author of numerous books on occult tarot and Qabalah. Perhaps his greatest contributions to the field of occultism were the lessons he wrote for associate members of Builders of the Adytum. The Knowledge Lectures given to...

's B.O.T.A. Tarot
B.O.T.A. tarot deck
The B.O.T.A. Tarot was created by Paul Foster Case, founder of B.O.T.A. and artist Jessie Burns Parke. Though the B.O.T.A. Tarot for the most part closely resembles the Rider-Waite deck, Paul Foster Case corrected what he felt were mistakes or "blinds" in the Rider-Waite edition.In "The Tarot,"...

 deck are black line drawings on white cards; this is an unlaminated deck intended to be colored by its owner.

Other esoteric decks include the Golden Dawn Tarot, which claims to be based on a deck by S.L. MacGregor Mathers
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers
Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers , born Samuel Liddell Mathers, was one of the most influential figures in modern Occultism...

.

The variety of decks presently available is almost endless, and grows yearly. For instance, cat-lovers may have the Tarot of the Cat People, a deck replete with cats in every picture. The Tarot of the Witches and the Aquarian Tarot
Aquarian tarot deck
The Aquarian Tarot Deck was first published by Morgan Press in 1970. It is now printed by AG Müller and distributed by U.S. Games Systems, Inc., a major North American tarot deck distributor...

 retain the conventional cards with varying designs. The Tree of Life Tarot's cards are stark symbolic catalogs; and the Alchemical Tarot combines traditional alchemical symbols with tarot images.

These contemporary divination decks change the cards to varying degrees. For example, the Motherpeace Tarot
Motherpeace Tarot
The Motherpeace Tarot is a feminist-inspired deck of tarot cards, in which most of the figures are female. It was created in the late 1970s by two women from Berkeley, California, Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble. The idea for the deck came to them in a vision in 1978. The artwork in the deck is original...

 is notable for its circular cards and feminist angle: the male characters have been replaced by females. The Tarot of Baseball has suits of bats, mitts, balls and bases; "coaches" and "MVPs" instead of Queens and Kings; and major arcana cards like "The Catcher", "The Rule Book" and "Batting a Thousand". In the Silicon Valley Tarot
Silicon Valley Tarot
The Silicon Valley Tarot is a modern, spoof Tarot deck published by Steve Jackson Games with the tagline "Cheaper than a consultant. Same Results"...

, major arcana cards include The Hacker, Flame War, The Layoff and The Garage; the suits are Networks, Cubicles, Disks and Hosts; the court cards CEO, Salesman, Marketeer and New Hire. Another tarot in recent years has been the Robin Wood Tarot. This deck retains the Rider-Waite theme while adding some very soft and colorful Pagan symbolism. As with other decks, the cards are available with a companion book written by Wood which details all of the symbolism and colors utilized in the Major and Minor Arcana.

Unconventionality is taken to an extreme by Morgan's Tarot, produced in 1970 by Morgan Robbins and illustrated by Darshan Chorpash Zenith. Morgan's Tarot has no suits, no card ranking and no explicit order of the cards. It has 88 cards rather than the more conventional 78, and its simple line drawings show a strong influence from the psychedelic
Psychedelic
The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή and δηλοῦν , translating to "soul-manifesting". A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly...

 era. Nevertheless, in the introductory booklet that accompanies the deck Robbins claims spiritual inspiration for the cards and cites the influence of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 in particular.

Deck-specific symbolism

Many popular decks have modified the traditional symbolism to reflect the esoteric beliefs of their creators.
Rider-Waite-Smith deck
Rider-Waite tarot deck
The Rider-Waite tarot deck is the most popular Tarot deck in use today in the English-speaking world . Other suggested names for this include the Rider-Waite-Smith, Waite-Smith, Waite-Colman Smith or simply the Rider deck...


The tarot created by A.E. Waite and Pamela Coleman Smith departs from the earlier tarot design with its use of scenic pip cards and the alteration of how the Strength and Justice cards are ranked.
Crowley-Harris Thoth deck

Each card in the Thoth deck
Thoth tarot deck
The Thoth Tarot is a divinatory tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from Aleister Crowley. Crowley referred to this deck as The Book of Thoth, and also wrote a book of that title intended for use with the deck....

 is intricately detailed with astrological, zodiacal, elemental and Qabalistic symbols related to each card. Colours are used symbolically, especially the cards related to the five elements of Spirit, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Crowley wrote a book--The Book of Thoth
The Book of Thoth (Crowley)
The Book of Thoth : A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians is the title of The Equinox, volume III, number 5, by English author and occultist Aleister Crowley. The book is recorded in the vernal equinox of 1944 The Book of Thoth : A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians is the title of The...

 to accompany, describe, and expand on his deck and the data regarding the pathways within. Unlike the popular Waite-Smith Tarot, the Thoth Tarot retains the traditional order of the trumps but uses alternative nomenclature for both the trumps and the courts.
Mythic Tarot

The Mythic Tarot
The Mythic Tarot
The Mythic TarotA new approach to tarot reading using Greek Mythology and Jungian Psychology developed by Liz Greene and Juliet Sharman-Burke in 1986. The deck is based on the traditional Tarot and the Greek myths, but has a theoretical base in transpersonal psychology...

 links tarot symbolism with the classical Greek myths.
Hermetic Tarot

Hermetic Tarot utilizes the tarot imagery to function as a textbook and mnemonic device for teaching and revealing the gnosis of alchemical symbolical language and its profound and philosophical meanings. An example of this practice is found in the rituals of the 19th Century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. In the 20th Century Hermetic use of the tarot imagery as a handbook and revealer of perennial wisdom was further developed in the work of Carl Gustav Jung and his exploration into the psyche and active imagination. A 21st century example of a Hermetic rooted tarot deck is that of Tarot ReVisioned, a black and white deck and book for the Major Arcana by Leigh J. McCloskey.

Popular culture tarot decks

The Vertigo Tarot deck employs characters from titles of American publisher Vertigo Comics including such imagery as John Constantine
John Constantine
John Constantine is a fictional character, an occult detective anti-hero in comic books published by DC Comics, mostly under the Vertigo imprint. The character first appeared in Swamp Thing #37 , and was created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and Rick Veitch...

 from Hellblazer
Hellblazer
Hellblazer is a contemporary horror comic book series, originally published by DC Comics, and subsequently by the Vertigo imprint since March 1993, the month the imprint was introduced, where it remains to this day...

, in the role of The Fool zero card. The cards were illustrated by Dave McKean
Dave McKean
David McKean is an English illustrator, photographer, comic book artist, graphic designer, filmmaker and musician....

 with text by Rachel Pollack
Rachel Pollack
Rachel Pollack is an American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot...

 and the accompanying book holds an introduction by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman
Neil Richard Gaiman born 10 November 1960)is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films. His notable works include the comic book series The Sandman and novels Stardust, American Gods, Coraline, and The Graveyard Book...

. In France, where the tarot game is most popular, there have been tarot decks published depicting characters from Asterix
Asterix
Asterix or The Adventures of Asterix is a series of French comic books written by René Goscinny and illustrated by Albert Uderzo . The series first appeared in French in the magazine Pilote on October 29, 1959...

, Disney
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

, and Tex Avery
Tex Avery
Frederick Bean "Fred/Tex" Avery was an American animator, cartoonist, voice actor and director, famous for producing animated cartoons during The Golden Age of Hollywood animation. He did his most significant work for the Warner Bros...

 cartoons.

Modern oracle cards

Recently, the use of tarot for divination
Divination
Divination is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic standardized process or ritual...

, or as a store of symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

ism, has inspired the creation of modern oracle card decks. These are card decks for inspiration or divination containing images of angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

s, fairies
Fairy
A fairy is a type of mythical being or legendary creature, a form of spirit, often described as metaphysical, supernatural or preternatural.Fairies resemble various beings of other mythologies, though even folklore that uses the term...

, goddess
Goddess
A goddess is a female deity. In some cultures goddesses are associated with Earth, motherhood, love, and the household. In other cultures, goddesses also rule over war, death, and destruction as well as healing....

es, totem
Totem
A totem is a stipulated ancestor of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe.Totems support larger groups than the individual person. In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem...

s, etc. Although obviously influenced by divinatory tarot, they do not follow the traditional structure of Tarot; they often lack any suits of numbered cards, and the set of cards differs from the conventional major arcana
Major Arcana
The Major Arcana or trumps are a suit of twenty-two cards in the tarot deck. They serve as a permanent trump suit in games played with the tarot deck, and are distinguished from the four standard suits collectively known as the Minor Arcana...

.

See also

  • Cartomancy
    Cartomancy
    Cartomancy is fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. Forms of cartomancy appeared soon after playing cards were first introduced into Europe in the 14th century...

  • Giardino dei Tarocchi
    Giardino dei Tarocchi
    Il Giardino dei Tarocchi or The Garden of Tarot is a sculpture garden based on the esoteric tarot created by Niki de Saint Phalle in Garavicchio, province of Grosseto, Tuscany, during the late 1970s.-External links:*...

  • Hofamterspiel
    Hofamterspiel
    Hofämterspiel, one of the earliest card games on record preserved in its entirety with all forty-eight cards intact, is a major 15th century medieval hand-made deck commissioned by Ladislaus the Posthumous, king of Hungary and Bohemia and Duke of Austria from 1453 to 1457...

  • Playing card
    Playing card
    A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin cardboard, plastic-coated paper, cotton-paper blend, or thin plastic, marked with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games...


Tarot Cards
  • Trick-taking game
    Trick-taking game
    A trick-taking game is a card game or tile-based game in which play centers on a series of finite rounds or units of play, called tricks. The object of such games then may be closely tied to the number of tricks taken, as in plain-trick games such as Whist, Contract Bridge, Napoleon, Rowboat, and...

  • Trionfi
    Trionfi (cards)
    Trionfi, Italian name for playing cards with allegorical content, were probably used for a game of trumps in the 15th century. One typus of the Trionfi decks developed to the Tarot cards.-Name:...


Further reading

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