What is the Tarot?

Very simply, the tarot is a deck of 78 cards that seemingly originated sometime during the 13th century in Europe. It has historically been used for playing particular games of chance but sometime in the 15th century it became widely known as a popular tool of divination.

Perhaps the most widely used in Europe at the time were the Italian decks that were seemingly the first on the scene. Soon though, the tarot would spread across the continent and give rise to a slew of other editions, from the French Tarot de Marseilles and the “Egyptian” tarot of Jeane Baptiste Alliette; to the famous tarot sets of today, like Pamela Smith’s and A.E. Waite’s Rider Waite and Crowleys Thoth Tarot.

The structure of a classical tarot deck includes 56 minor arcana divided into 4 suits, wands, swords, cups and disks; as well as 22 major arcana, often called trump cards.

Today, largely as a result of the analysis of Eliphas Levi and the intrigue propagated by Alliette, the tarot is widely used for divination and psychological analysis.

But what the tarot really is, at it’s core, is a combination of symbols, that when applied to the human experience, can yield different ways of looking at one’s present situation. In the hands of a skilled reader, the tarot can offer a host of tools that allow a multitude of ways to approach any situation life can throw at us.

As Philippe St. Genoux said, “Tarot doesn`t predict the future. Tarot facilitates it.”

By taking an in depth look at the images of the tarot, we are better able to look at our lives through a wide variety of lenses in order to choose the most beneficial path forward, giving us more control over how we choose to live our lives.


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