A Brief History of Tarot Card Reading
Tarot cards are one of the most commonly used divination tools for fortune-telling around the world. The tarot has drawn many people into its magic for hundreds of years. Today you can buy tarot cards in hundreds of designs in the market.
Though the methods of tarot card reading have drastically evolved over the years, many readers have adopted a unique style while sticking to their traditional meanings. This means that the cards haven’t changed much. Here’s a brief history of tarot card reading.
The Roots of Tarot Cards
The ancestors of tarot card reading can be traced back to the late fourteenth century. Artists in Europe invented these playing cards that initially featured four different suits and were used for games. These suits are still used today—coins or discs, wands or staves, swords, and cups.
After a few decades, Italian artists began to paint additional cards that were heavily illustrated to incorporate the existing suits. Triumph or trump cards were usually painted for people from wealthy families. A few of the sets which still exist today were made for the Visconti family that included several barons and dukes in Milan.
Trump cards were invented in Europe, but not in Italy. Many historians believe that the first trump-card game originated in the 1420s in Germany with a game called Karnöffel. In this game, a suit of trump cards can beat the card of lower ranks only. Karnöffel and tarot independently developed in Europe, and all Trump games are known to have been derived from tarot.
Tarot Cards and the Kabbalah
A French Freemason in 1781 published an intricate analysis of the Tarot that revealed that the symbolism associated with these cards was derived from Egyptian priests. In the analysis, he explained that this knowledge had reached Rome, where it was revealed to the popes and the Catholic Church. These popes wanted to keep this knowledge a secret.
Based on his analysis, wealthy Europeans played card decks and produced a lot of artwork featuring divination.
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