The History of Tarot Card Reading

posted by Chris Valentine
The History of Tarot Card Reading goes back centuries

Photo by CC user voyancecam on Pixabay.

First arriving in Europe in the fifteenth century, Tarot cards remain popular today. Millions of people pay good money to have their cards (and fortunes) read, and for those who do, they would not dream of starting any new projects, relationships or careers without consulting their favorite trusted Tarot cards reader. In this post, we will relay a brief history of tarot card reading, from the distant part to the present day.

Tarot Cards Were Originally Used for Fun

Believe it or not, the original Tarot cards were actually used just to have fun and pass the time, not for divination about the future. Europeans (specifically Italians in Milan, Bologna and Ferrara) were introduced the game of playing cards in the fourteenth century, with the game itself probably originating from Egypt. These original Tarot cards had four different suits like modern trump cards, with the illustrations differing depending on the region they were made in. Indeed, the modern name of “trump” cards comes from the term “carte da trionfi” or “triumph cards” in Italian. Later on, the cards became known as “trionfi” cards, which gave rise to the term “trump cards”. Each suit had cards numbering from one to ten, as well as cards featuring the Jack, Knight, Queen and King.

Elaborate Hand-painted Cards Became the Rage Among Wealthy Europeans

By the fifteenth century, wealthy Europeans were playing Tarot cards games, but the cards they were using were nothing like those we are using today. These cards were beautiful, exquisitely hand-painted cards featuring Greek gods or different birds. Later on, some of these cards also featured philosophical, astronomical and social ideas. Naturally, the majority of the population had no access to these beautiful, rare and expensive cards. Some of the most famous artists of the time, like Bonifacio Bembo and Francesco Zavattari lent their skills to paint these Tarot cards. Only the wealthiest families, like the Visconti family could afford such luxurious playthings. Additionally, the fact that these cards were elaborately hand-painted means that they could not be produced en masse, making them even more precious. Surprisingly, there was not so much opposition against playing cards in Europe at this time, thus the pastime gained popularity.

Today’s Tarot Cards Tell the Future

Using Tarot cards to take a peek into the future began in the sixteenth century, and remains very popular today. The activity usually starts with the deck of cards being shuffled, and then the person who wants to have his fortune told or is looking for specific answers would choose several cards randomly. Then the Tarot cards reader would interpret the cards that are picked. Since each card has a pictogram and a title that symbolizes a specific idea, every card that is picked would be seen as revelatory about this person’s present and future situation. The Tarot deck has two parts: the Major Arcana (Greater Secrets) which contains The Magician, The Hermit, The Moon, The Fool, etc., while the Minor Arcana (Lesser Secrets) contains the King, Queen, Knight and Jack. Depending on which card is drawn, and in which order, believers get advice about different aspects of their life.

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