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Who Invented Tarot Cards & Why? Unraveling The Mystery

If you’re reading this, then it’s safe to say you’re interested in the mystical, mesmerizing world of Tarot. And who wouldn’t be? It’s packed with history, intrigue, and more than a smidgen of mystery.

Let’s dive into this incredible world together, shall we?

Where Did Tarot Come From?

Tarot cards, as we know them today, originated in the mid-15th century in Europe, with Italy being the major hotspot.

The earliest creators of Tarot-like cards include:

  • Jacquemin Gringonneur – Late 1300s
  • Bonafacio Bembo – Circa 1450

Jacquemin Gringonneur was the painter who created perhaps the earliest Tarot-like cards we know of. And they were supposedly made for the entertainment of Charles VI of France.

Bonafacio Bembo came a little later around 1450, and created arguably the most famous Tarot deck, the Visconti-Sforza deck comprising of 74 cards, which remain today.

According to many, these early decks, like the famous Visconti-Sforza deck, weren’t used for fortune-telling or spiritual pursuits but for a simple, entertaining card game known as “Tarocchi”.

So perhaps the earliest Tarot cards were merely an entertaining game without much mystery behind them.

But it didn’t take long for that start changing…

Who Invented Tarot Cards as We Know Them Today?

Now, while Tarot cards were being dealt out in jovial games across Italian parlors, something interesting was happening in the East.

In places like Egypt and Persia, a tradition of mystical card reading had developed. Though these were not Tarot cards, they paved the way for the divination use of Tarot.

Fast forward to the late 18th century, and we find a Frenchman named Antoine Court de Gébelin. He was a free thinker, fascinated by all things mysterious and spiritual.

When he stumbled across Tarot cards, he was certain that they held ancient Egyptian wisdom. And just like that, Tarot cards were seen in a new, mystical light.

So, you could argue that it was Antoine Court de Gébelin was the person who invented Tarot cards as we know them now.

The Arrival of the Occult

The 19th century was a period of spiritual exploration and curiosity.

Many people, especially in Europe, were digging into the mysteries of the world, looking at ancient civilizations, mysticism, and spirituality. Tarot was a perfect fit for this trend.

Eliphas Lévi, a French occultist, was the first to connect Tarot with Kabbalah, the mystical tradition of Judaism. This was a significant shift, as it linked Tarot with established spiritual traditions.

And with that, the modern Tarot was born – not as a simple card game, but as a tool for divination and spiritual insight.

A. E. Waite and the Rider-Waite Deck

Fast forward to the early 20th century, and we meet Arthur Edward Waite, a scholar of the occult.

Together with the artist Pamela Colman Smith, they created the Rider-Waite Tarot deck.

This deck is one of the most popular and widely used Tarot decks today. If you’ve ever seen a Tarot card, odds are it was from the Rider-Wait deck.

Waite and Smith did something revolutionary with their deck: they filled every card, not just the major arcana, with rich, symbolic imagery.

This made the cards much more accessible and easier to interpret, sparking a surge of interest in Tarot reading.

Tarot in the Modern World

Today, Tarot is more popular than ever. It’s used by millions of people around the world for self-reflection, meditation, personal growth, and, of course, divination.

We owe this fascinating journey to the creators of those early Italian card games, and to the countless seekers and scholars who have since explored the depths of Tarot’s symbolic wisdom.

There you have it, a brief but fascinating journey through the history of Tarot. It’s a world steeped in history, rich with symbolism, and filled with possibilities for personal insight and growth.

Whether you’re just starting your Tarot journey or are an experienced reader, there’s always something new to learn, some hidden wisdom to uncover, some secret to reveal.

From Classic Decks to Modern Adaptations: The Evolution of Tarot

If there’s one thing that’s as fascinating as the history of Tarot itself, it’s the evolution of the Tarot decks.

So, let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the most influential decks that have shaped our understanding of Tarot over the centuries.

We’ve already talked about the Rider-Waite deck, the brainchild of A. E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, but there’s so much more! There’s the Thoth Tarot deck, designed by none other than the infamous British occultist Aleister Crowley and artist Frieda Harris. Crowley’s knowledge of symbolism and mythology was vast, and he imbued the Thoth deck with this wisdom. It’s a deck that many find challenging but equally rewarding.

And let’s not forget the Marseilles Tarot, one of the oldest decks still in use. It’s a traditional French deck, brimming with bold colors and distinctive imagery. It has a certain rustic charm that many modern decks try to capture.

In recent years, we’ve seen a creative explosion of Tarot decks. From feminist decks like The Modern Witch Tarot to culturally diverse decks like The Hoodoo Tarot, there’s a Tarot deck for everyone today. Each of these decks adds a new layer of understanding and perspective to the rich tapestry of Tarot.

The Magic of Interpretation: Tarot Today

The world of Tarot is not just about the past.

It’s a living, breathing tradition that continues to evolve and inspire. And the key to unlocking its magic lies in the art of interpretation.

Today, Tarot is used as a mirror to the soul, a tool to tap into our subconscious. When we pull a card, we’re not predicting the future. Instead, we’re exploring possibilities, digging into our emotions, and seeking guidance for personal growth. Tarot is a way to dialogue with our inner selves, to bring clarity and insight.

Tarot has also found a place in modern therapeutic practices. Some counselors and therapists use Tarot as a tool to facilitate discussion, encourage introspection, and explore emotional landscapes with their clients. It’s a powerful reminder of how the age-old tradition of Tarot continues to find relevance and purpose in our modern lives.

Reading Tarot is like learning a new language, the language of symbols. Each card tells a story, and your interpretation weaves these stories into a unique tapestry that reflects your personal journey. It’s an exciting and rewarding journey, one that offers endless opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

Wrapping It Up

The rich and diverse history of Tarot is just the tip of the iceberg. As you dive deeper, you’ll find a world filled with symbolism, wisdom, and the potential for personal transformation.

From its humble beginnings as a card game in Italy to its place in modern therapeutic practices, Tarot has journeyed through time, evolving and adapting to each era.

With every shuffle and draw of the cards, you’re not just participating in a divinatory practice; you’re joining a centuries-old tradition that spans cultures and continents.

That’s a kind of magic you can hold in your hands.

So, here’s to your Tarot journey, filled with revelations, insights, and the thrill of the unexpected. Enjoy the ride!