History overview of Tarot cards


When did the use start to change

There is evidence however that in the 16th century the tarot was used to compose poems in which personality characteristic descriptions were taken from the tarot. Poets would use the titles of the trump cards to create flattering verses to describe the ladies in the court. In one specific case in 1572 a poem related to a person’s fate. It is noted that the use of the tarot cards for divination purposes dates back to 1750 where the divinatory meanings and uses of that deck was completely different to how it is used today. Although in 1589 there was a case implying witchcraft and the use of the Tarot cards there is no other real written evidence of its occult use until the 18th century.

It was not until the 18th century that the tarot was viewed as having mystical and spiritual/occult meanings. But keep in mind that although it wasn’t the norm in terms of card usage; ordinary playing cards were associated with divination and the occult as far back as 1487. There is concrete evidence the early divinatory meanings were given to the tarot as far back as the 1700’s in Bologna.

The first detailed reference of the Trump cards of the tarot was in a sermon. It was given by a Franciscan friar between 1450 and 1470 who states the Trumps were devised by the Devil himself. The use of the cards were condemned and the Devil is credited with the final triumph of the trumps. He contended that the Devil wins through the loss of souls in the card game.

Origins of the word “Tarot”

The word “Tarot” is argued about whether or not it derived from Egypt, is Hebrew or Latin as an anagram originally. Historical finds imply it comes from the first word “tarocchi” which is plural; or “tarocco” which is singular for the game of triumphs or trumps 100 years after the first deck emerged. No one really knows why the word tarot appeared but they do know the Germans called the deck tarok and the French tarot.

In terms of ancient historical association of the tarot and its history; Antoine Court de Gebelin in the 18th century in France became convinced that the tarot deck had a connection to Egypt based on its picture symbolism. In his book “Monde Primitif” he alluded to the fact that the pictures in the Tarot are from the ancient books that were not burned in Egypt. He also felt that there were secrets that had to be decoded in those pictures. Soon after everyone was viewing the tarot as a card system deep with hidden meanings.