Tarot cards are a form of cartomancy, which uses cards as a form of divination. Divination is the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. Some practitioners use Best Tarot Decks as a form of fortune telling—giving very specific information about the future, but most practitioners use the cards to impart advice that is useful and meaningful in the present. Present pattern energy is the confluence of inner and outer forces that create our reality. It's the state of the present moment. With a better understanding of our current reality, we can raise our consciousness and become equipped to make better choices. The predictive cards allow us to exercise our free will to change course if necessary.
Tarot has some ancient origins. Some people have claimed that the Tarot cards are remnants of an ancient Egyptian text that was destroyed when the library of Alexandria burned around 275 AD. Surprisingly though, Tarot is not ancient in origin as far as we know. It probably was invented far more recently. Playing cards first came to Europe sometime in the 14th or 15th century. So, we can't really know for sure which came first, Playing or Tarot cards, though it could be neither. It's likely that they share some lost common ancestor. What we do know is that by the 15th century, Europeans used cards with the suits that we know today. The oldest-known Tarot deck belonged to the Duke of Milan and dates to around 1440. In addition to the four suits, it had a fifth suit of 21 specially illustrated cards called trionfi ("triumphs") and an odd card called il matto ("the fool"). Although that was about 600 years ago, it's not exactly ancient.
How Old are the Tarot Decks that are Used Today?
The first deck known to be published explicitly for divination came in 1789. Then in 1909, a Tarot deck was commissioned by a man named Arthur Waite, who worked with the publisher William Rider to create a deck with gorgeous art by Pamela Colman Smith. This is typically known as the Rider-Waite deck (which really should be known as Rider-Waite-Smith or Rider-Smith since Pamela brought the images to life). This deck was a sensation because, unlike prior decks, every card was illustrated with rich, deep symbolism, so each card had meaning and could be a tool for practitioners. Most modern Tarot decks are based on the meanings developed from this seminal deck. The imagery may differ, and some card names differ from deck to deck, but the core archetype of most Tarot decks today follows the Rider-Waite version.
Look for our next blog about Rider-Waite and the modern tarot deck.