Tarot is a system of divination using a deck of cards. Tarot consists of 78 cards. The origins of the Tarot are unclear. Some believe the Tarot dates back as far as ancient Egypt and relates to the Tree of Life (Kabbalah). Tarot might have originally been a “Book of Wisdom” or a pictorial way for gypsies, who spoke different languages, to communicate. Many believe the first deck was a game made as a wedding gift for the marriage union between the Visconti and Sforza families in 15th century Renaissance Italy.
After the Renaissance, when the Inquisition extended its reach, the Tarot was considered a form of divination, and therefore, along with Astrology, Palm Reading and other oracular practices, was rejected, considered evil, and feared. In the early 20th century, however, occult groups began to form and new interpretations of Tarot decks began to appear. Two different decks that are now the basis for most contemporary Tarot decks were created. Both decks came out of the secret Society of the Golden Dawn in Britain: The Rider/Waite deck, (Rider being the publisher) was designed in 1910 by Arthur Edward Waite and illustrated by Pamela Coleman Smith. This Tarot deck gave pictorial images for every card. With artist Lady Frieda Harris, Aleister Crowley developed the Thoth deck in the 1940s. Crowley added astrological references for every card.
Other important and influential decks are the Marseille deck from France and the modern Visconti Sforza deck, copied from the famous Renaissance deck. Another branch of Tarot is the modern mystery school version created by Paul Foster Case in 1922, called The Builders of the Adytum or BOTA. Today, interpretations of the cards vary from reader to reader, and book to book. “Tarot and the Chakras: Opening New Dimensions to Healers”
The Tarot is Divided up like this:
The Major Arcana
Twenty two Major Arcana cards narrate the entire range of archetypical experiences. The twenty-two cards also correspond to the twenty-two Hebrew letters and pathways of the Kabbalah (Tree of Life). The Major Arcana cards are the most important part of a reading. These are influences you cannot change, although being made aware of them leads to tremendous insight. The Major Arcana are internal and spiritual in essence.
These cards are your karmic lessons and so have the greatest personal significance in a reading. The Major Arcana bring to our awareness archetypal or universal influences that we are currently experiencing, or soon will. When we recognize patterns that every human shares, we gain understanding and connectedness. The Major Arcana cards are sometimes thought of as secret ways to establish a relationship with the Divine.
The Minor Arcana
Forty minor arcana cards describe the matter at hand with the help of numerology and elemental energies. The Minor Arcana are similar to a deck of playing cards:
Air/Swords being spades Fire/Wands being clubs Water/Cups being hearts Earth/Pentacle being diamonds
The Minor Arcana cards describe the details. They represent more diffuse energy than the Major Arcana. The Minors describe the possibilities of how things are or may play out in the real world. They conform to the physical world.
The Minor Arcana card suits are associated with the Elements and the Chakras. Each Ace represents the pure essence of that suit/element/Chakra. The numbered cards two through ten have astrological references that correlate with the esoteric anatomy of Polarity Therapy. In this correlation the astrology associations start with Aries at the forehead and end with Pisces at the feet.
The Court Cards
Associated with the suits are the sixteen Court Cards, which represent specific people or aspects of yourself that influence the matter. The court cards represent psychological states. There are four Courts for each suit.