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Tarot History 2

Subject: Tarot History 2

[from ]

     Tarot, or Tarocchi as it was originally called, is one of the
   oldest card games still played. The deck with which it is played
    was invented around 1440, probably in the city state of Ferrara
     in northern Italy. Contrary to popular beliefs it was not the
    predecessor of the deck of cards that we usually use nowadays,
    quite the opposite. Another popular widespread myth is that the
        deck was originally used for divination. That field of
    application did not originate until late 18th century. In spite
   of a large number of references during more than three centuries
   to Tarot in literature and art, there is not a single indication
    that it was used for cartomancy before 1781, or that it was in
         any way connected to the occult or the supernatural.
    The man who is to the largest extent to blame for the senseless
   invention of divination, using Tarot cards, is the Swiss Antoine
      Court de Gébelin (1719 -1784). He had in an inspired moment
    "realized" that the symbols on the Tarot cards originated from
   the old Egyptian religion, and that the deck had been invented by
     egyptian priests in consultation with the god Thot and was a
      symbolic representation of his wisdom. The word "Tarot" was
   supposed to mean "the royal road", from "tar", 'road', and "ro",
    'royal'. Neither of those words can be found in Wallis Budge's
     extensive Egyptian dictionary. Inspired by Gébelin, a man who
      called himself Etteilla (his real name was Alliette) wrote
    several books and pamphlets on the subject, further developping
        his "theories", and so the whole thing was set rolling.
   Today, sadly enough, the Tarot deck is to the largest extent seen
      as a tool for divination, instead of as the thing it really
   represents: a rich and fascinating tradition of card playing. It
      couldn't be considered less than a scandal that sybils and
            occultists have stolen this cultural heritage.
   In spite of all this, I still think the symbols and images of the
    Tarot deck are fascinating, firing the imagination and through
   the years many an artist has been inspired by the Tarot deck, and
     the trump cards in particular. This has made these decks very
   interesting collector's items. Hundreds and hundreds of different
     designs can be found in an ever growing number. Below I will
    present the same card in fifteen different Tarot decks, to show
   how differently the cards can be designed. The card shown is "The
                 Magician" i.e. the lowest trump card.


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