The recorded origins of the Tarot card deck date back to the early Middle Ages. Some speculate that it had been used for divination purposes for centuries already. But the earliest surviving decks come from Italy and were definitely used during the time of the Renaissance. Following that period interest waned. A strong revival of the deck occurred in the 1910s and again in the 1970s. Since then, Tarot reading has remained a powerful force for healing, meditation and, of course, divination as it has been integrated more and more into mainstream society. The symbolism in the cards can be linked to many esoteric belief systems including the ancient Egyptian religion, the Kabbalah, Christian mysticism, and Hermitic Orders, among others.
The 78-card Tarot deck is comprised of two parts: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The 22 Major Arcana basically tell the story of a soul’s journey through life starting with “The Fool” and ending with “The World.” They symbolize more significant issues and experiences. The remaining 56 cards are organized similarly to regular playing cards using the four suits: cups, pentacles, wands and swords, and range from ace to king. They focus on the life in the everyday. The combination of these two parts creates a powerful link between the microcosm and macrocosm of the human psyche.
There are a multitude of decks available, and even kits to make your own, as well as countless books written on the subject. One of the most widely used and celebrated decks is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, co-created by Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1910. But there are many other popular decks in use today so a reader can find the deck that “speaks’ to him/herself.
The invitation is ever present to learn more about how this fascinating, timeless tool can enhance our lives and provide great insight for the inquisitive.
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