Ascribed to much…mystical messages from the ancient Egyptians; codes that would cross time and space; the stock and trade of gypsies; the the tool of the scam artist and liar. Associated with witches for dark and mysterious use, capable of holding spells and power to use against others, Tarot has been “blessed and cursed” with it all.
The truth is, the Tarot deck itself originated in the Renaissance in Italy. The oldest existing deck dates to the early 1400s. They weren’t created by the Rome in their trek out of Eastern Europe.
They weren’t designed and passed down through secret religious societies from before the time of Christ. They were designed as a deck of cards to play a card game similar to bridge by the nobility.
Try to imagine life in the 1400s. Leonardo hadn’t even been born yet.
The Italian nobility would live in towns and cities to conduct business and engage in Machiavellian games and power struggles. When heat brought disease and discomfort many retired to their summer houses, much like the English gentry. These would turn in to revolving parties and entertainments.
No race cars, no streets (unless you count the mostly mud tracks outside of the few cobble stone cities and remaining Roman roads), Europe was emerging from a time called the Dark Ages into the sparkle and light of the Renaissance. It was over cards that we now associate as Tarot that the 15th and 16th Century Italian nobility talked, chatted, wheeled and dealed within the machinations of their Class.
Some historians report that for a time there was quite a competition between the individual houses as to whom had the most beautiful deck of cards. Initially, totally, the cards were intended to play an engaging and entertaining game requiring skills not unlike poker players today. (You really don’t think they didn’t gamble on their card games, do you?) In fact, the earliest forerunner of the word Tarot doesn’t show up in the vernacular until over 150 years after documentary evidence of the first playing decks of cards. Tarot initially appears as a noun, the name of a card game.
The components of the decks have changed over the years. Today a quick visit to www.usgamesinc.com will show you a wide range of decks that are available. They come in all shapes and sizes, belief systems, specific question genres, teach yourself or give a gift. The cards we use on our site for examples are the Art Nouveau Tart Deck. The choice was more of an artistic one than that of subscribing or promoting any particular Tarot deck.
Over the years, through the Renaissance, Roccoco and Baroque periods, the Tarot mutated from a strict device for palor entertainments to a holder of messages and images. During the Renaissance symbolism was king. Color, flower, animal, mountain, left, right, up, down, square, soft, harsh; all had meanings understood by most in the noble class. Allegorical communication was key. Numerous portraiture studies of the time give good examples of the hidden messages within paintings of the period.
In the early part of the 1900’s what has become to be considered the “standard” Tarot deck, “Rider Waite” was developed. This is the deck most people are familiar with and its artwork has become the “standard” for the symbolism of the card. Although Hebrew associations weren’t made until the late 1700s as it was considerably earlier that the Tarot started to move into the shadowy realms of self-knowledge and prediction. The tarot deck had transposed from the original carte da tarocco to tarocchi in approximately a century. One of the earliest written associations of Tarot with witchcraft is 1589, but that assumption is tenuous. It really wasn’t until the 18th century that the Tarot took on its magic and divinatory allure.
Do they really work? Cartomancy in general works. Whether you are using a deck of standard playing cards, the Visconti-Sforza-Pierpont Morgan Tarocchi deck which is a facsimile of a nearly complete set of cards from the 15th Century. (Four cards have been recreated to fill in the deck.) Tarot is Tarot! Somewhere between the 15th and the late 19th early 20th Century the symbology of the cards changed. The Catholic Church even had a hand in their change and developing demanding the Pope and Popess be replaced by less offensive figures, thus we are presented with the Priest and Priestess.
Today Tarot is simply based on Jungian philosophy of Archetypes. There are certain essential steps that we all go through in this life. For example, in order to be alive, we have all shared the experience of being born. In order to be sentient, we have all a shared experience in that time when we become self-aware. As the 20th and, now, 21st Centuries have added their influence to the Tarot they are an amazing tool for introspection, choices and who we are, where we’re going, and, sometimes, how best to make that happen for ourselves.
Our website uses the Art Nouveau Tarot Deck for illustration. We choose this deck more for the eye appeal than for adherence to that specific deck’s symbology. Here at the center we have a wide range of Cartomancy Decks running from the Sfroza to the Art Nouveau. We have celtic decks, unicorn decks, Egyptian, Norse, and many more. Some decks are based on movies or stories (Lord of the Ring, The Crow), while others are based on belief systems (Angel Deck and Mother Earth Peace). If you have a specific deck you would like us to use as we conduct reading please ask.
DrNikki.Com offers the Tarot/Cartomancy modality in a variety of forms