Tarot is another oracle of divination that attracts some psychic readers and not others. The real answer comes from the Tarot reader being able to focus their consciousness beyond the physical meaning of a given card and into the life of the person they are reading - interpretations are always more than what's on a flat cart but rather multi-dimensional. This is much like Simulation Theory where we are reality as explained as coming from two dimensional sheets into the physical matrix of events we experience here.

We will never know the origin of the original deck which could have been created by an Oracle centuries ago as a way of defining what was happening in reality at that time. Many believe current decks are allegories, legend depictions, relate to holy texts, lore and other ancient mystical symbolism - empowered by those who use them.

Modern Day

There are many different types of tarot decks some going back hundreds of years others as contemporary as online cards. You can create your own desk based on today's symbolism or you can go back and use a deck from the past often found on eBay. It's not about the cards it's about what the reader sees in them and projects to the client.

Though I can interpret the Tarot I prefer to use a deck of regular playing cards which brings me more relatable information. In the timeline when everyone has a cell phone and can record our session - after I lay out a spread on the table - clients they have the ability to take a picture of what they see combined with what I am saying at the same time - bringing greater definition to the experience. Whatever works for you.

The History of Tarot

The origins of Tarot are somewhat obscure, the most common theories go to ancient Egypt and Thoth along with ancient mystery school teachings.

There is a myth that Tarot was brought to Europe by the Gypsies.

Some believe that a form of Tarot goes back to ancient China.

I believe that all ancient civilizations developed their own systems of divination based on the same symbolism and archetypes just as all stories of create follow a similar algorithm.

Tarot as we know it today is a collection of images and symbols from a wide variety of cultures, from the ancient Greeks and Romans to the prehistoric Norse peoples, from the ancient religions of India and Egypt to the medieval courts of Italy and France.

The first clear reference that we have to Tarot cards is from a sermon that was collected with many others about 1500 in Italy found in the Steele Manuscript. The sermon is thought to date from about 1450 to 1470 and is a diatribe against games of chance. It gives a detailed description of the Tarot trumps, not only numbering them but naming them as well.

As early as 1540, a book entitled The Oracles of Francesco Marcolino da Forli shows a simple method of divining from the coin suit of a regular playing card deck.

Manuscripts from 1735 (The Square of Sevens) and 1750 (Pratesi Cartomancer) show rudimentary divinatory meanings for the cards of the tarot, as well as a system for laying out the cards.

In 1765, Giacomo Casanova wrote in his diary that his Russian mistress frequently used a deck of playing cards for divination.

In 1781 Antoine Court de Gebelin wrote a speculative history and a detailed system for using the tarot to foretell the future. From Gebelin's time forward, various explanations have been given for the origins of tarot, most of them of doubtful veracity. There is no evidence for any tarot cards prior to the hand-painted ones that were used by Italian nobles, but some esoteric schools believe its origins could be in Ancient Egypt, Ancient India or even the lost continent of Atlantis.

Gebelin, a French linguist, cleric, occultist, Mason, member of the Lodge of the Philalethes, and author of the nine-volume work Le Monde Primitif - was convinced of the mystical significance of the Tarot and fond of Egyptian lore. He believed the cards' birth place was ancient Egypt, where they served as tools of initiation into the priesthood. For Gebelin, the Tarot's Major Arcana was the Book of Thoth, a synthesis of all knowledge once held in hieroglyphic form in burned Egyptian temples and libraries. He claimed that it had escaped the destruction of the Library of Alexandria. At the time he was writing this, the skill of reading hieroglyphics had been lost for almost 1200 years and there existed the widely held belief that they were magical symbols concealing the lost knowledge of antiquity. Gebelin saw the Tarot as a contemporarily available pictorial embodiment of this occult wisdom, a tangible link with the past.

A French man, (erroneously believed by some to have been barber, he merely had lodgings above a barbers shop) named Alliette, writing under the pseudonym Etteilla (his name spelled backwards), followed de Gebelin's lead and revised the Tarot to comply with his own idiosyncratic idea of Egyptian mysticism. His Tarot has had less influence upon subsequent designs than have his ideas.

In the mid 1850s a third Frenchman, Alphonse Louis Constant (originally a deacon of the Catholic Church), began to publish occult works. For the purposes of authorship he translated his name into Hebrew and wrote under the name Eliphas Levi (he dropped the final Zahed?. His books contained Tarot references and symbolism and it was he who first established the link between the Tarot and cabala (or Qabalah). He felt that the god Thoth-Hermes made the original deck. His theory contains mathematical ideas similar to those of Pythagoras, whom he admired.

Eliphas Levi (real name: Alphonse Louis Constant, author of 'History of Magic|'), 1810-1875, was a French priest and Rosicruician who thought the Tarot the key to the Bible, the Jewish Qabbalah, and all other ancient spiritual writings. He attempted to link the 22 cards of the Major Arcana to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. He drew parallels between Tarot suits and the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, YHVH ('Yahweh').

Late nineteenth-century Parisian author Paul Christian (Jean Baptiste Pitois) was a follower of Levi's who believed that Major Arcana cards represent hieroglyphic paintings found on columns in ancient Egyptian galleries. He also sought parallels between the Tarot and Qabbalistic astrology.

Papus (Gerard Encausse, 1865-1916), a French doctor, philosopher, and Theosophist, was another believer in the Tarot's Egyptian sources. Known for the book 'The Tarot of the Bohemians', he believed the Tarot a bearer of ancient designs inscribed in secret chambers below the Pyramids. The designs represented initiation tests. When the temples were at risk, the priests transferred the mystical designs to materials which later became a pack of cards. Papus, too, described a link between Tarot and the Tetragrammaton. He also dealt with numerology and the Tree of Life.

MacGregor (Samuel Liddell) Mathers lead the English Order of the Golden Dawn, which was founded in 1886. He studied Jewish, Egyptian, Christian, and alchemical mysticism and wrote about the Tarot.

A. E. Waite (1857-1942), the English Christian occult philosopher, broke from the Order of the Golden Dawn and founded his own school of mystical thought. Working with the artist Pamela Coleman Smith - who was also a member of The Order of the Golden Dawn - Waite created a "rectified" deck featuring images and scenery on all the cards, Minor as well as Major Arcana. They produced the 78 card deck that we use today.

The tarot has been studied by many adepts and has been shown to be directly relating to the Qabalah. The Order of the Golden Dawn in 1890 made a deck for its members, utilizing the knowledge of the Qabalah in its symbolism. This was not the first deck, but the research done by the golden dawn and its members helped shape the views of the Tarot and the western philosophies of the mysteries. Together, they produced the 78 card deck that we use today. The tarot has been studied by many adepts and has been shown to be directly relating to the Qabalah.

Aleister Crowley, too, founded his own occult school, the Ordo Templi Orientis, which had to do, among other things, sex magic. Working with Freida Harris, he created the colorful Book of Thoth Tarot. He considered identifying with each card more important than trying to guess about origins.

Paul Foster Case, who formed the Builders Adytum, thought the Tarot from Morocco. According to him, 11th century philosophers designed it to both to preserve knowledge after the Alexandrian libraries were burned down and to furnish a universal language. He, too, designed a deck, a black and white one. It strongly resembles Waite's.

Tarot Decks

The oldest group of surviving Tarot cards, called Tarocchi in Italian, appears to date from 1420 to 1450.

Although the oldest cards that we have are hand-painted ones, many scholars believe that printed or wood block cards predate the hand-painted ones. However, as most early printed cards were much-used and of poor quality, the earliest printed cards date from later than the hand-painted ones by twenty to fifty years so that there is no physical evidence to show which type of cards were the first to be created.

The typical 78-card tarot deck is structured into two distinct parts. The first, called the Trump cards, consists of 21 cards without suits, plus a 22nd card, The Fool, which is sometimes given the value of zero (0).

The second consists of 56 cards divided into four suits of 14 cards each. The traditional Italian suits are Swords, Batons, Coins and Cups. In modern tarot decks, the Batons suit is commonly called Wands, Rods or Staves, while the Coins suit is often called Pentacles or Disks.

Among those who use Tarot cards for divination purposes, the trumps are usually called Major Arcana, while the other cards are known as the Minor Arcana. (Arcana is the plural form of the Latin word arcanum, meaning "closed" or "secret".)

The four court cards (or face cards) of the tarot deck traditionally consist of the King, the Queen, the Knight and the Page (or Knave). In bridge or poker decks, the court cards typically consist of the King, the Queen and the Jack. The Jack corresponds to the tarot deck's Page.

In the present-day Anglo-American world, the Tarot is usually seen either as a means of divination, the practice of ascertaining information from supernatural or other sources, or, in a more modern view, as a psychological tool for accessing the unconscious. However, early references such as a sermon refer only to the use of the cards for game-playing and gambling; and in some European countries such as France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, as Michael Dummett points out in Twelve Tarot Games (1980), Tarot games are still widely played.

Early Tarot Decks

The relationship between Tarot cards and playing cards is well documented. Playing cards appeared quite suddenly in Christian Europe during the period 1375-1380, following several decades of use in Islamic Spain: see playing card history for discussion of its origins. Early European sources describe a deck with typically 52 cards, like a modern deck with no jokers. The 78-card Tarot resulted from adding 21 Trumps and the Fool to an early 56-card variant (14 cards per suit). A greater distribution of playing cards in Europe can with some certainty be given for the year 1377 and the following years. Tarot cards only developed some 40 years later, and they are mentioned, possibly for the first time, in the surviving text of Martiano da Tortona (it can be found in translation on the Web). Initially, tarot cards were only known as "trionfi" (triumphs). Only later did the name "tarocchi" appear.

The likely date for da Tortona's text is between 1418 and 1425, since in 1418 the confirmed painter Michelino da Besozzo returned to Milan, and Martiano da Tortona died in 1425. It cannot be proven, of course, that Tarot cards did not exist earlier, but it seems improbable, because the date of the Martiano da Tortona text is at least 15 years earlier than other clear confirming documents. Da Tortona describes a deck similar to Tarot cards in specific points, but in other ways quite different. What he describes is more a predevelopment to Tarot than what we might think of as "real" Tarot cards. For instance, it has only 16 trumps; its motifs are not comparable to common Tarot cards (they are Greek gods); and the suits are not the common Italian suits, but four kinds of birds.

What makes da Tortona's deck similar to Tarot cards is that these 16 cards are obviously regarded as trump cards in a card game, and that, about 25 years later, a nearly contemporary speaker, Jacopo Antonio Marcello, called them a "ludus triumphorum" - a term that is regarded as a relatively certain indicator of Tarot-similar objects when it appears in relation to playing cards.

The next documents that seem to confirm the existence of objects similar to Tarot cards are two playing card decks from Milan (Brera-Brambrilla and Cary-Yale-Tarocchi) - extant, but fragmentary - and three documents, all from the court of Ferrara, Italy. The playing cards are naturally not precisely datable, but it is estimated that they were made circa 1440.

The three documents are from 1 January 1441 to July 1442, with the term "trionfi" first documented in February 1442. The provenance of the document from January 1441, which used the term "Trionfi" not, might be regarded as insecure, however, certain circumstances make it plausible, that it already was a deck of this developing type (same painter: Sagramoro, same commissioner: Leonello d'Este as in the document of February 1442); this is discussed on the site. After 1442, a longer pause (seven years) occurred without any confirming material, which doesn't give any reason to assume a greater distribution of the game in these years.

Till this time all relevant early documents point to an origin of the Trionfi cards (later Tarocchi cards) in the upper class of the society in Italy, and specifically to the courts of Milan and Ferrara. At the time, these were the most exclusive courts of their time in Europe. The number of existing decks might have been quite small. The game seems to gain in importance in the year 1450 - a Jubilee year in Italy, which saw many festivities and traffic of pilgrims.

The following frequent documentary evidence of the decks in the period from 1450 to 1463 is documented on the Web at the same place.

In the given context, it's obvious that the special motifs on the trumps, which were added to normal playing cards with a usual 4x14-structure, were ideologically determined. They have been thought to show a specific system that could transport messages of different content; known early examples show philosophical, social, poetical, astronomical and heraldic ideas, for instance, as well as a group of old Roman/Greek/Babylonian heroes that could serve as content as in the case of the Sola-Busca-Tarocchi and the Boiardo Tarocchi poem.

For example, the above-mentioned earliest-known deck, extant only in its description in Martiano's short book, was produced to show a Greek gods system (an ideological idea at a time when Greek content was taken in Italy with some enthusiasm). Very likely its production accompanied a triumphal festivity of the commissioner Filippo Maria Visconti, which means the deck had the concrete function of expressing and consolidating the political power in Milan (as common for the time also in other productions of art). The 4 suits showed birds, which appeared regularly in common Visconti-heraldic, and the used specific order of the gods gives reason to assume, that the deck partly should focus, that the Visconti identified themselves as descendants from Jupiter and Venus (which were - as in this time usual - seen not as gods, but as heroes, which were deified once).

This first known deck seems to have had the usual 10 number cards, but kings only and only 16 trumps - the later standard (4x14 + 22) wasn't settled and still in 1457 a document is known, which speaks of Trionfi decks with 70 cards only . Till the Boiardo Tarocchi poem (produced at an unknown date between 1461 and 1494) and the Sola Busca Tarocchi (1491) any confirming evidence for the final standard form with all 78 cards is missing.

Individual researchers' opinions formulate cause these facts in the current moment, that the Trionfi decks of the early time had mostly 5x14 cards only and that the row of trumps and fool were simply considered as a 5th suit with predefined trump-function.

The oldest surviving Tarot cards are three early to mid-15th century sets, all made for members of the Visconti family, rulers of Milan. The oldest of these existing Tarot decks was perhaps painted to celebrate a mid-15th century wedding joining the ruling Visconti and Sforza families of Milan, probably painted by Bonifacio Bembo and other miniaturists of the Ferrara school. Of the original cards, 35 are in the Pierpont Morgan Library, 26 cards are at the Accademia Carrara, 13 are at the Casa Colleoni, 4 cards (the Devil, the Tower, the Three of Swords, and the Knight of Coins) being lost or possibly never made. This "Visconti-Sforza" deck, which has been widely reproduced in varying quality, combines the suits of Swords, Staves, Coins and Cups, and face cards King, Queen, Knight and Page with trumps that reflect conventional iconography of the time to a significant degree.

For a long time Tarot cards remained privileged to the upper class of society. The Roman Catholic Church and most civil governments did not routinely condemn tarot cards during tarot's early history. In fact, in some jurisdictions, tarot cards were specifically exempted from laws otherwise prohibiting regular playing cards. However, some sermons inveighing against the evil inherent in cards can be traced to the 14th century.

As the earliest Tarot cards were hand-painted, the number of the produced decks is considered to have been rather small. Only after the invention of the printing press mass production of cards became possible. Decks from this era survive from various cities in France at various times (the best known in this context being the city of Marseille, in southern France) perhaps from the early 16th century, though actual surviving examples are no earlier than the 17th century. At around the same time, the name "Tarocchi" appeared.

A general farspread, now traditional, hypothesis stated that the final form of the Tarot with a (4x14)+22 structure was settled ca. 1450. This opinion is based on the suggestion, that the surviving 68 Bembo cards had in the "6 added trumps" only replacements for earlier "lost cards". An alternative view states that early Tarot decks would usually have 70 cards, and that the deck by Bonifacio Bembo only has two cards missing. Of worth for the situation of the development is the Tarot History Fact Sheet, which was composed on the base of the common ground of various researchers.

Esoteric Views on the History of Tarot

Since 1781, when Antoine Court de Gebelin published his "Le Monde Primatif", in which he claimed Tarot cards held the "secrets of the Egyptians", without producing any evidence to sustain his claims, Tarot cards have been written about by many esoterians who have advanced speculative views on the history of Tarot cards. From this mystical vantage-point, the origin and history of the Tarot is unclear and often idealized.

Many Hermetic traditions, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which have made claims that the Tarot system was derived from ancient mystery religions as a visually encoded framework of the archetypal concepts seminal to the journey of enlightenment, have blossomed after the freemasonic writer (Court de Gebelin)- with link to the online text in French) published his text about the Tarot, in which he incorporated some writing of the Comte de Mellet, in the year 1781.

Naturally the playing card research conditions of the year 1781 were not remotely comparable to the much better research situation of today, Gebelin's errors and partly wild speculations, which proved nonetheless of some importance for the development of Western Esotericism, were natural in his time because of missing information. A good and informative timeline of the development short before and after Gebelin is given by the book author Mary Greer.

The Hermetics were quick to point out that in a qabalistic analysis, Tarot is equivalent to Rota (Wheel) or Tora (Law) indicating they were a representation of the 'Wheel of the Law'. (Note that this theory, which tries to explain the name "Tarot", loses its value when one considers that "Tarot" is only the French variant on the original Italian name "tarocchi".)

In less obtuse terms, the Tarot would then be a series of metaphysical 'facts' after the manner of the Zen Ox Paintings. From the first to the last of the Major Arcana ("Big Secrets") they are arranged as a series of lessons, or a parable of the passage of the soul. From the "Fool" 0, the tabula rasa, naive and artless child-mind, a quest is laid out which is meant for the spiritual edification of the student.

A number of scholars of the western Hermetic or Magical traditions have made such claims of the Tarot having ancient roots and lessons. Look to the works of Robert Fludd or Albertus Magnus for deeper inspections. Another school of thought believes that the Roma people, travelling through many cultures, picked up this pictorial wisdom, and being inventive by nature, created a form of divination (and perhaps of card games) from it. The idea is that they understood and kept the knowledge of the mystery-lessons of the picture-cards in private, while in public they used the cards for profit through divination and card games.

Use of Tarot Cards in Divination

Since the Egyptianizing ruminations in Le Monde primitif by Antoine Court de Gebelin (1781) which soon inspired the occultism of "Etteilla" (Jean-Babtiste Alliette), it has been believed by many that the Tarot is far older than this. Based on purported similarities of imagery and reinforced by the added numbering, some claim that Tarot originated in ancient Egypt, Hebrew mystic tradition of the Kabbalah, or a wide variety of other exotic places and times. Such ideas, however, are speculative.

In fact, although much of Tarot imagery looks mysterious or exotic to modern users, nearly all of it reflects conventional symbolism popular in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Nearly all of it may easily be interpreted as a reflection of the dominant Christian values of the times. Thus, the earliest Tarots may have been depictions of the carnival parades that ushered in the Christian season of Lent or the related motif of hierarchical powers found in Petrarch's poem I Trionfi. These trionfi or triumphs were elaborate productions which layered then-fashionable Graeco-Roman symbolism over a Christian allegory of sin, grace, and redemption. Notably, the earliest versions of the World card show a conventional image known from period religious art to represent St. Augustine's "Heavenly City", and it is not coincidence that it often closely follows the Judgement card.

Several other early Tarot-like sequences of portable art survive to place the Visconti deck in context. Later confusion about the symbolism stems, in part, from the occult decks, which began a process of steadily paganizing and universalizing the symbolism to the point where the underlying Christian allegory has been somewhat obscured (as, for example, when the Rider-Waite deck of the early Twentieth Century changed "The Pope" to "The Hierophant" and "The Popess" to "The High Priestess"). It is notable that between 1450 and 1500 the Tarot was actually recommended for the instruction of the young by Church moralists. Not until fifty years after the Visconti deck did it become associated with gambling, and not until the 18th century and Gebelin and Etteilla with occultism.

The Tarot cards eventually came to be associated with mysticism and magic. This was actually a late rather than early development, as we can tell from period sources on card divination and magic. The Tarot was not widely adopted by mystics, occultists and secret societies until the 18th and 19th century. The tradition began in 1781, when Antoine Court de Gebelin, a Swiss clergyman and Freemason, published Le Monde Primitif, a speculative study which included religious symbolism and its survivals in the modern world.

De Gebelin first asserted that symbolism of the Tarot de Marseille asserted represented the mysteries of Isis and Thoth.

Gebelin further claimed that the name "tarot" came from the Egyptian words tar, meaning "royal", and ro, meaning "road", and that the Tarot therefore represented a "royal road" to wisdom. Gebelin asserted these and similar views dogmatically; he presented no clear factual evidence to substantiate his claims.

In addition, Gebelin wrote before Champollion had deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. Later Egyptologists found nothing in the Egyptian language that supports de Gebelin's fanciful etymologies, but these findings came too late; by the time authentic Egyptian texts were available, the identification of the Tarot cards with the Egyptian "Book of Thoth" was already firmly established in occult practice.

Although tarot cards were used for fortune-telling in Bologna, Italy in the 1700s, they were first widely publicized as a divination method by Alliette, also called "Etteilla", a French occultist who reversed the letters of his name and worked as a seer and card diviner shortly before the French Revolution.

Etteilla designed the first esoteric Tarot deck, adding astrological attributions and "Egyptian" motifs to various cards, altering many of them from the Marseille designs, and adding divinatory meanings in text on the cards. Etteilla decks, although now eclipsed by Smith and Waite's fully-illustrated deck and Aleister Crowley's "Thoth" deck, remain available.

Later Marie-Anne Le Normand popularized divination and prophecy during the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte. This was due, in part, to the influence she wielded over Josephine de Beauharnais, Napoleon's first wife. However, she did not typically use Tarot.

Interest in Tarot by other occultists came later, during the Hermetic Revival of the 1840s in which (among others) Victor Hugo was involved. The idea of the cards as a mystical key was further developed by Eliphas Levi and passed to the English-speaking world by The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Levi, not Etteilla, is considered by some to be the true founder of most contemporary schools of Tarot; his 1854 Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (English title: Transcendental Magic) introduced an interpretation of the cards which related them to Kabbalah.

While Levi accepted Court de Gebelin's claims about an Egyptian origin of the deck symbols, he rejected Etteilla's innovations and his altered deck, and devised instead a system which related the Tarot, especially the Tarot de Marseille, to the Kabbalah and the four elements of alchemy. On the other hand, to this day some of Etteilla's divinatory meanings for Tarot are still used by some Tarot practitioners.

Tarot became increasingly popular beginning in 1910, with the publication of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, which took the step of including symbolic images related to divinatory meanings on the numeric cards. (Arthur Edward Waite had been an early member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn). In the 20th century, a huge number of different decks were created, some traditional, some vastly different. Thanks, in part, to marketing by the publisher U.S. Games Systems, the Rider-Waite-Smith deck has been extremely popular in the English-speaking world beginning in the 1970s.

The Major Arcana

The fool is an interesting card, it is a key of 0 and yet a key of 22 as well. There are 22 cards to the Major Arcana, starting with number 1-21..the number 22 would seem to be missing if we just called it 0. The 0 key, represents the god force, the force before entering into manifestation, but in the same right, this card completes the cycle as number 22. Life continues on and on in a cycle and the number 22 is an ancient symbol for a circle representing god and infinity, because a circle has no starting point or end. The Fool represents the Super conscious in which he has yet one more step ahead of him, symbolic of the fact that we never come to our limit in potential.

The bright sun over head represents the life energy that is forever rising. The mountains in the distance, even though bleak and cold rising high in the sky bring forth water when the sun melts the peaks, bringing life and nourishment to the ones below. His bag represents the memories of the past, with the eagle on it representing an awaked view towards aspirations. The white rose in his hand represents the pure desire and untainted goals, while the dog at his feet is symbolic of the lower incarnations that are elevated by evolution.

The magician represents the conscious mind. With focus on an idea or goal, the conscious mind sets into action these ideas and brings them forth to the material world. The magicians hands are stretched forth, one to the sky holding a wand, and the other pointing to the ground below. This is suggestive that as is "as above, so below". The table in front of him has all the tools to make this possible. The wand, cup, sword, and pentacle, which are representative of all the suits to the tarot cards. The mage has an undergarment of pure white, showing his pure wisdom and is held shut by the serpent around his waist. The outer garment is red, symbolic of desire and passion, which has no belt holding it shut so it can be removed if necessary. The flowers in the garden represent things as well. The red roses are symbolic of desires, and the white lilies represent pure thought, untainted by desire. This card is under the vibration of the number 1.

This card represents the subconscious mind. It is the balancing force between pairs. The pillars to her sides represent the opposites, light and dark, and she sits in the middle of them, impartial to one or the other. The curtain behind her connects the pairs. The letters on the pillars are B and J. The B is symbolic of the number 2 falling as the second letter in the alphabet. The letter J is the 10th letter in the alphabet, in numerology, this is reduced to 1. So on the pillars we have the numbers 1 and 2. This is symbolic of male and female, the two opposites. The Priestess is holding a scroll of universal and personal knowledge, but only part of it is showing, because god has more yet to reveal. The High Priestess is the link, the conscious mind formulates ideas and the subconscious sets them into action in a fashion of order, represented by the block on which she sits. This card falls under the vibration of the number 2.

The Empress card is another aspect of the subconscious, but unlike The High Priestess being memory. The Empress or number 3 responds to this memory which evolves in creativity and imagination. It is within this energy that conscious and the subconscious bring forth manifestation. The plant life in the card represents the cultivation within the subconscious. The stream in the background falling into the pool is symbolic of the joining of the conscious and the subconscious. The stars on her crown represent the 12 signs of the zodiac, indicating that time...brings desires into manifestation. This card falls under the vibration of the number 3.

The Emperor card rules over the conscious elements set into the material world. The Emperor is an older, wiser version of the Magician, his knowledge at handling affairs in a systematic way has given him the seat on the thrown. He is holding the world in his left hand and a T square in his right. The world is represented in numerology by the number 4 which is also this cards vibration. The T square is used in building and design, for mathematics and planning. This card represent the fashion in which things are done, a system to bringing things forth and manifest. Starting with one, two, three, then finally four, which is the building number, putting all things together.

The Hierophant represents our inner being, the teacher, and intuition. Intuition is a collection of all of the facts from the conscious mind, sent to the subconscious which in turn looks at the information and acts upon it sending it back to the conscious. True intuition is based upon reason and a collection of the facts. The crown at the top of the head has 5 points representing the 5 senses. Likewise it has 3 levels representing the 3 levels of mind, conscious, subconscious and super conscious. The grey background is symbolic of wisdom, for grey is a mixture of black and white and is the balance of the 2 forces. The keys at the feet are representing the key to super conscious, for in the union of the conscious and subconscious, enlightenment is achieved. This card fall under the vibration of the number 5.

The Lovers card is symbolic of relationships and partners. This is the union of opposites but compatible things. The man and woman standing across from each other are naked, showing their differences. The man is standing looking to the woman, while she in turn is looking up at the angel above. The angel here is symbolic of the super-conscious. The man representing the conscious mind and the female representing the subconscious mind, and in this order... conscious, subconscious, superconscious..we must follow to reach the source of our power and draw on it to gain insight and inspiration. The tree behind the man represents the zodiac signs being twelve in number and the tree behind the woman represents the tree of wisdom, with the serpent representing the kundalini force risen to the highest point. It is only here that we can draw off the wisdom attainable to us, for if it remains coiled and low, our senses are bound to just the material. This card falls under the vibration of the number 6.

The Chariot card is 7th in the series of the Major Arcana. The chariot driver controls the chariot with no reins or other harnesses, he expresses his will to control the functions and direction of the positive and negative forces representing the white and black sphinxes. This card is symbolic of the soul and the physical shell. The cart is enclosed and represents speech, for in speech we enclose ideas an set them into motion. Vocabulary can also serve as a protective unit by the power of words that strike home to the souls of others. The square on his breast plate is symbolic of order and control over the material world. This card falls under the vibration of the number 7.

The Strength cards represents the control over material forces. The lion is a symbol of the fire within or the kundalini force that sits coiled within us at the base of the spine. The woman is symbolic of the subconscious, which controls vital functions without the need of conscious thought. She controls the lion with a gentle spiritual touch rather than from brute force. This card falls under the vibration of the number 8.

One who has mastered all elements of the past key numbers and stands on top of the mountain of attainment. The snowy peaks is symbolic of his isolation because his wisdom sets him apart from the rest. In this position, he holds his lantern to light the way for the rest to follow his path to enlightenment, for knowledge is meaningless unless we turn and show others what we have learned. The lantern light is 2 triangles, one face up and the other face down. As is above, so below. A triangle only holds 180 degrees, but the combination of 2 triangles equals 360 degrees. A circle has 360 degrees and is the symbol of the creator, endless. 360 degrees and 180 degrees both vibrate at a number 9, the vibration of this cards.

This card represents the grasp on the personna by understanding who you really are. When this happens you will never be without material possessions. The number 10 represents a new cycle meaning that the number 10=1 in numerology. The humanoid figure with the jackal head represents the evolution of man with its ears just over the center of the wheel. This represents that intuition and that inner voice allow man to rise to higher levels. The sphinx at the top of the wheel represents the ideal that we all try to strive for, the completed cycle balancing both male and female characteristics in perfect control. The figures in the corner represent the fixed signs of the zodiac.

Balancing the wrongs of the past and setting them correct. Just as in the laws of karma there is a cause and effect to each and every action that we do. The sword is held high in the right hand to symbolize the action of correcting wrongs and holding the balance of justice, also symbolizes the cutting out of negative thoughts.

The Hanged Man represents reversal of view. The significance of this card is that everything isn't as it appears to be on the surface. The man appears to be hanging but in fact he is in perfect control and balanced and centered within himself. He sees all of the others with there problems and the err in there ways and yet they look at him as though he is upside down, when in fact, he has perfect vision.

This card represents transformation and rebirth of consciousness. The death skeleton comes to all as shown in the picture, child father, mother, king and priest. Death has no care for station in this material plane and all suffer the same fate in the end. The white horse that is well tamed, symbolic of pure desires and the submissiveness to the cycles of life.

The angel in the picture above is perfectly balancing and combining the two qualities of male and female, or positive and negative. The angel stands with one foot on the earth and one within the water at foot. This is also a perfect balance of the conscious and the subconscious mind. The red wings are symbolic of the fiery desires of the spirit to learn on a higher level of consciousness and the mountains in the background represent wisdom. The triangle is the higher knowledge that is acquired through introspection as the will to learn and understand can cause within us great doubt, but by following truth, we can select a path that leads us to the wisdom we so desire.

The devil card represents blindness and misconception. The black background is the lack of light or understanding. The 2 humans, male and female are loosely bound to the stone pillar. They could easily remove their bindings, but stay there by will. The pillar that they are chained to is half of a square, representing the half truths that they bind themselves to. The torch that the devil is holding is pointing down, and the flame is eating at the torch in a wasteful way, not giving off any light.

This card is symbolic of the jolt of actual understanding. Lightning, feared by the primitive is the opposite to an enlightened one, using its power for his own uses. So with this, we can look at the card and understand that the man and woman, conscious and subconscious are knocked from the top of the tower by the light of true knowledge or understanding. The crown is symbolic of the mind or the place of power and thought.

The woman in this card represents the subconscious mind gathering knowledge from the universal subconscious and pouring it over humanity. The right leg that supports her weight is bent in a 90degree angle suggesting that all will be learned if you search in the right places, with her foot resting in the pool of knowledge. The left hand pours the waters over the land and it disburses into 5 separate streams representing the 5 natural senses of man.

The moon card represents the evolution of spirit. The shell fish is symbolic of life emerging from the water of creation and starting on the path of return to the creator. The path is narrow and long representing the trials and the length of time that evolution takes. The path has its ups and downs and is not completed right away, but a slow process of learning and focus. The 32 tongues of fire falling from the moon are symbolic of the 32 paths to the tree of life. The dogs are symbolic of mans nature, one is trained, and the other is wild, the positive and negative forces that we must control to complete our time here.

The Sun is the giver of life, nothing can live without the suns warmth and beams of light. Trees and plants convert the suns energy into oxygen for us to breath, and warm the oceans to bring rain to feed the land. It remains fixed and unchanging, and it shines its light for all, good and bad. It is truly neutral, and this is a lesson for us to understand. The four flowers are symbolic of the manifestation of earth and that love for all things must be achieved without bias.

This card represents the understanding of spiritual things, when we have achieved this, our conscious is ready to bond with the universal consciousness. We are one with the creator and understand the relationship between god and all of humanity. The coffins are dark and void of light and truth when they are closed. But here they are shown open and light of the angel above trumpeting the truth of the universal consciousness.

This card represents the continuance and never-ending cycle of life. The four figures in the corners of the card represent the 4 fixed zodiac signs that represent that the laws of the universe remain unchanged and orderly. The wreath surrounding the woman is symbolic of a zero which is the symbol of god and from which all things emerge.

The Lesser Arcana

The Lesser Arcana cards consist of 56 cards broken down into 4 different suits. The wands, the cups, the swords and the pentacles. Each of these suits consist of cards numbered from Ace (number 1) to 10, followed by four court cards. These cards hold lesser vibrations than those of the Major Arcana.

Each of the numbered suit cards follow vibrations similar to its number in relation to numerology. Understanding that these numbers convey the special meaning to these cards, so does the suit of the card portray different aspects of life. To understand the we have to look at the number 4. There are 4 suits to the cards and these represent the 4 esoteric formulas for manifestation on the material plane.

Below are each of the 4 suits - how they correspond to our 'playing cards' - their element - what they symbolize.

The Suit of Wands - Clubs - Fire - Creative

The realm of spirit - represents ideas, they are the primary seed or original idea and the primary element of growth. When we see wands in a reading, they point to ideas, ambition and growth. So when this is understood, we apply the number of the card to this understanding in a reading.

The Suit of Cups - Hearts - Water - Emotions

The realm of mental - this is the next step towards manifesting the idea. It is the link to the next step in the order of things. When we see the Cups in a reading, they point to desires and feelings, that inner experience that only we are aware of and may not show as outward manifestation.

The Suit of Swords - Spades - Air - Intellect

The realm of astral - represents the action. The focused intent to bring forth manifestation. Often times the swords indicate struggles as it is difficult to bring an idea into reality. When we see the suit of swords in a reading, they point to action and struggle before the final outcome.

The Suit of Pentacles - Diamonds - Earth

Realm of the physical or material, element of earth) represents the actual outcome of the matter. It is true manifestation into the material plane, the product of ones labors. When we see the suit of pentacles in a reading, they point to realization, and manifestation.

Tarot and the Hebrew Alphabet



High Priestess









Wheel of Fortune

Hanged Man










Tarot and the Tree of Life

Tree of Life gif - image map - reload page if image does not come up

    4 Aces

    4 Kings, 4 twos

    4 Queens, 4 threes

    4 fours

    4 fives

    4 Knights, 4 sixes

    4 sevens

    4 eights

    4 nines

    4 pages, 4 tens



    High Priestess










    Hanged Man










Differences in Decks

Shapes: Square, rectangular, round

Size: Regular card size, tiny, large

Number if cards: 78 standard - More - Less

Based on a particular mythic cycle - psychological theory - channeled information

Cards are laid out in a variety of standard spreads or created by the person using them.

Tarot cards serve many purposes, and this leads to a variety of Tarot deck styles. Traditionally, a variety of styles of Tarot decks and designs have existed. A number of typical regional patterns emerged. Historically, one of the most important design is now usually known as the Tarot of Marseille (French: Tarot de Marseille). This standard pattern was the one studied by Court de Gebelin, and cards based on this style illustrate his Le Monde primitif.

The Tarot of Marseille was also popularized in the 20th century by Paul Marteau. Some current editions of cards based on the Marseille design go back to a deck of a particular Marseille design that was printed by Nicolas Conver in 1760. Other regional styles include the "Swiss" Tarot; this one substitutes Juno and Jupiter for the Papess and the Pope. In Florence an expanded deck called Minchiate was used; this deck of 96 cards includes astrological symbols and the four elements, as well as traditional Tarot cards.

Interestingly, some people view the older decks such as the Visconti-Sforza and Marseille as crude and limited when compared to some modern ones. This may reflect their belief that Tarot symbolism has evolved, especially since the early 20th century, so that it has become increasingly universal. A Marseille-type deck is usually distinguished by having repetitive motifs on the pip cards as opposed to full scenes found on "Rider-Waite" style decks.

Some decks exist primarily as artwork; and such "art decks" sometimes contain only the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. Esoteric decks are often used in conjunction with the study of the Hermetic Qabala; in these decks the Major Arcana are illustrated in accordance with Qabalistic principles while the numbered suit cards (2 through 10) sometimes bear only stylized renderings of the suit symbol. However, under the influence of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, decks used in the English-speaking world for divination often bear illustrated scenes on the numeric cards to facilitate divination. The more simply illustrated "Marseille" style decks are nevertheless used esoterically, for divination, and previously for game play. (Note that the French card game of tarot is now generally played using a relatively modern 19th-century design of German origin. Such Tarot decks generally have 21 trumps with genre scenes from 19th-century life, a Fool, and have court and pip cards that closely resemble today's French playing cards.)

An influential deck in English-speaking countries is the Rider-Waite deck (sometimes called simply the Rider deck)

The images were drawn by artist Pamela Colman Smith, to the instructions of Christian mystic and occultist Arthur Waite, and originally published by the Rider Company in 1910. While the deck is sometimes known as a simple, user-friendly one, its imagery, especially in the Trumps, is complex and replete with occult symbolism. The subjects of the trumps are based on those of the earliest decks, but have been significantly modified to reflect Waite and Smith's view of Tarot. An important difference from 'Marseille'-style decks is that Smith drew scenes on the numeric cards to depict divinatory meanings; those divinatory meanings derive, in great part, from traditional cartomantic divinatory meanings (e.g., Etteilla and others) and from divinatory meanings first espoused by The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, of which both Waite and Smith were members. However, it isn't the first deck to include completely illustrated numeric cards. The first to do so was the 15th-century Sola-Busca deck; however, in this case, the illustrations apparently were not made to facilitate divination.

Some individuals object to the Rider-Waite deck due to its relatively small selection of colors and "flat" appearance. However, several decks, such as the Universal Waite, copy the Smith's line drawings, but add more subtle coloring and three dimensional modeling. The limited number of colors and "flat" appearance in the original Rider-Waite-Smith decks were virtually unavoidable due to the limits of printing technology in the early 20th century.

In Internet tarot discussion groups, the Rider-Waite deck and very similar decks, e.g., the Universal Waite, are sometimes referred to by the collective term "Rider-Waite-Smith", "RWS" or "Waite-Colman-Smith" (or similar expressions). Numerous other decks that are loosely based on Rider-Waite (as noted below) have been published from the mid-20th century through today. They are sometimes called Rider-Waite-Smith clones; however, the term is misleading. They are not exact copies as the term clone would imply. Instead, they are variations.


The Tarot has a complex and rich symbolism with a long history. Such history is not impenetrable. Contrary to what many popular authors claim, its origins are not lost in the mists of time. In fact, much of the fog around the symbolism can be dispelled if one studies sources other than occultists with a vested interest in the occult interpretation of Tarot. We will do some dispelling further on; in the meantime, the most important thing to note is that modern, occult readings of the cards often have little to do with their meaning in their original context.

Some people find that modern Tarot decks are more interesting, expressive, and psychologically resonant than their ancestors. Interpretations have evolved together with the cards over the centuries: later decks have "clarified" the pictures in accordance with meanings assigned to the cards by their creators. In turn, the meanings come to be modified by the new pictures. Images and interpretations have been continually reshaped, in part, to help the Tarot live up to its mythic role as a powerful occult instrument and to respond to modern needs.

We can know more about the symbolic intentions of the designer here, since he conveniently wrote many books on the subject on occultism and symbolism and a handbook specifically for this deck titled The Pictorial Key to the Tarot (1910). As with its Marseille-deck ancestor, the Strength trump shows a woman holding the jaws of a lion, but this picture is far more elaborate. The woman's hat of the Marseille card has frequently been interpreted as a lemniscate: the sideways-figure-eight representing infinity, or, according to Waite, the Spirit of Life. In the newer card, this symbol appears explicitly. Other symbols are included: a chain of roses symbolizing desire or passion, against a white robe symbolizing purity. The mountains in the background demonstrate another kind of strength. Even here there is room for interpretation: the card is sometimes considered as showing intellect triumphing over desire, sometimes as the equal union of intellect and passion, sometimes just as a symbol of mental strength or endurance.

The twenty-two cards in the major arcana are: Fool, Magician, High Priestess [or La Papessa/Popess], Empress, Emperor, Hierophant [or Pope], Lovers, Chariot, Strength, Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, Tower, Star, Moon, Sun, Judgement, World. Each card has its own large, complicated and disputed set of meanings. Altogether the major arcana are frequently said to represent the Fool's journey: a symbolic journey through life in which the Fool overcomes obstacles and gains wisdom. This idea was apparently first suggested by tarot author Eden Gray in the mid-20th century.

There is a vast body of writing on the significance of the Tarot. In many systems of interpretation based on that of the Golden Dawn, the four suits are associated with the four elements: Swords with air, Wands with fire, Cups with water and Pentacles with earth. The numerology is usually thought to be significant. The Tarot is often considered to correspond to various systems such as astrology, Pythagorean numerology, the Kabalah, the I Ching and others.


Carl Jung was the first psychologist to attach importance to Tarot symbolism. He may have regarded the Tarot cards as representing archetypes: fundamental types of person or situation embedded in the subconscious of all human beings. The Emperor, for instance, represents the ultimate patriarch or father figure.

The theory of archetypes gives rise to several psychological uses. Some psychologists use Tarot cards to identify how a client views himself or herself, by asking the patient to select a card that he or she identifies with. Some try to get the client to clarify his ideas by imagining his situation or relationship in terms of Tarot images: Is someone rushing in heedlessly like the Knight of Swords perhaps, or blindly keeping the world at bay as in the Rider-Waite-Smith Two of Swords? The Tarot can be seen as a kind of algebra of the subconscious, allowing it to be analysed at the conscious level. Like most "New Age" therapies, however, Tarot cards are not widely used by mainstream psychologists.

Although Jung and Freud are still seen as important innovators, the majority of psychologists today are quite critical of many aspects of their theories. Moreover, there are no known university programs that teach this practice and there is no empirical evidence of therapeutic benefit. There are also no scientific papers published on their use in any professional journals. More likely, individuals who practice these "techniques" can be seen as being on the fringes of the field.


Because of the association of Tarot cards with fortune telling, some religious groups oppose the use of Tarot cards. In some societies and religious belief systems, divination is forbidden based on religious or traditional teachings. As with many similar debates regarding lifestyles or religious practices, plenty of people can be found on both sides of the debate, supporting or condemning the reading of Tarot cards.

Skeptics of the paranormal also express objections to "Tarot card readings" along with objections to psychics, astrology, and other claims of the supernatural, or claim tarot readers commit fraud by cold reading.

Many enthusiasts of Tarot card games have objected to the widespread promotion of tarot cards primarily for divination or fortune-telling. They maintain that the more genuine purpose of the Tarot is for the playing of card games. To this, the card readers would stress that the benefits they claim to derive from divination are what is genuine regardless of the Tarot's origins or original purpose.