BelowThe Journey to God from a reproduction of the earliest nearly complete tarot deck, the hand painted Italian Visconti-Sforza Tarot (about 1450 CE). The journey begins at the bottom left, then goes right and up. This scan does not do justice to the beauty of the cards which have a reflective gold background which the scan shows as black (from Lo Scarabeo company who hold the copyright to these images)
History and Background of Tarot
(July 7, 2022) Ah the tarot! This is the most popular divination method in spiritual circles for good reason. Tarot forces whatever thought is at the back of our minds to come forward and be recognized. This thought may have been generated completely by our own brain or influenced by our emotional/spiritual network. We cannot separate the two effects due to the Spiritual Uncertainty Principle.
It works because it applies the Barnum effect to an imagined journey. At any given time everyone is on several life journeys involving work, family, relationships, religion, hobbies, etc. Consequently, the cards drawn will usually speak to one or more of these life journey's.
The Barnum effect is our tendency to interpret general statements and images and apply them to our own unique circumstances. This is a very effective method to draw out hidden or suppressed concerns either from one's inner being or from one's emotional/spiritual network.
The First Tarot Deck
Playing cards with suits came into medieval Europe during the early middle ages. They are mentioned in an Italian record dating to 1370 CE as Saracen cards. The Moslem cards did not have any images. The Italian innovation was to add images. The first nearly complete deck which survives is the hand painted Visconti-Sforza Tarot (figure 5). It was made about 1450 CE and it is only missing the Devil, the Tower, and the Three of Swords.
By the 1500s, the Italian aristocracy was enjoying a game known as “ tarocchi appropriati” meaning "appropriate tarot." In this game players were dealt random cards and used thematic associations with these cards to write poetic verses about one another. These predictive cards were referred to as “sortes,” meaning destinies or lots. The underlying meaning of the word "tarot" is unknown.
Despite their early divination usage these decks were actually designed for playing a game similar to modern-day bridge. Wealthy families in Italy commissioned expensive, artist-made decks known as “carte da trionfi” or “cards of triumph.” These cards were divided into four suits which were chalices, swords, coins, and scepters. These suits represented kingdoms with the individual cards representing the people of the kingdom. Since every kingdom had a royal court each suit had a king, queen, knight, and knave.
Every kingdom existed within three realms: The realm of empire, the realm of God, and the realm of Satan. A person could journey within each of these realms. These cards were later called the major arcana. Added to this set was the card of the fool. A complete deck usually totaled 78 cards. The three journey's are listed below with each section's journey's beginning at the bottom:
The Journey to Power
The Herald (later Chariot)
The Emperor's Agent (later Magician)
The Courts (Justice)
Church (Pope was married to the church, later the High Priestess)
Pope (later the Hierophant)
The Journey to God
Waters of the Atmosphere
Sun (it was thought to be lower than the moon in ancient mythology)
Planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, & Jupiter, in their orbital wheels, later the Wheel of Fortune)
God (later the Judgment card)
Journey to Satan
Mortality (shows a hourglass)
Sex (later the Lovers)
Anger (later the Strength card)
Hanged Upside Down Man (the Italian traitor's execution)
Tower of Babel (the fall of mankind, later just the Tower)
ReferencesAndy's Playing Cards at http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards3.htm
Collector's Weekly at http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/the-surprising-origins-of-tarot-most-misunderstood-cards/
The Visconti Tarot instruction booklet (2013) by Lo Scarbea company