The Ancient Roots of Tarot: the Origins of a Mystical Tradition

3 Cards Tarot Reading

Tarot, with its enigmatic symbols and profound insights, has captivated seekers of knowledge and divination for centuries. But where did this mystical tradition originate? In this article, we will embark on a journey to unravel the ancient roots of tarot, exploring its early beginnings and the cultures that shaped its foundation. By delving into the historical tapestry of tarot, we can gain a deeper appreciation for its rich heritage and enduring allure.

  1. Tarot’s Mysterious Origins: The exact origins of tarot remain shrouded in mystery, with various theories and speculations surrounding its early development. One popular belief suggests that tarot cards evolved from playing cards in 14th-century Europe. However, others propose alternative theories that trace the roots of tarot back to ancient civilizations.
  2. Egyptian Connection: The Book of Thoth: Some scholars propose an intriguing connection between tarot and ancient Egypt, specifically the Egyptian god Thoth, known as the god of wisdom, writing, and magic. The Book of Thoth, an alleged ancient Egyptian text of mystical knowledge, is believed by some to have inspired the symbolism and imagery found in tarot cards.
  3. The Influence of Islamic Mysticism: During the Middle Ages, Islamic mysticism, particularly the teachings of Sufism, had a significant impact on the development of esoteric knowledge in Europe. It is believed that Sufi mystics traveling through the Mediterranean region brought with them esoteric wisdom and symbolic systems that influenced the early tarot.
  4. The Playing Card Connection: While tarot may have been influenced by various mystical and cultural traditions, its connection to playing cards is undeniable. The earliest surviving tarot decks, such as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, were luxurious playing card decks commissioned by noble families in Italy. These decks featured additional symbolic trump cards, which eventually evolved into the Major Arcana of modern tarot.
  5. Tarot and the Renaissance: The Renaissance period marked a pivotal moment in the history of tarot. The artistic and intellectual flourishing during this time saw an increased interest in symbolism, mysticism, and divination. Tarot decks began to be associated with esoteric knowledge, with figures such as the Italian courtiers and scholars exploring the cards’ hidden meanings.
  6. Occult Revival and Tarot’s Rebirth: The late 18th and early 19th centuries witnessed a resurgence of interest in the occult and esoteric practices. This era saw the birth of secret societies, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which played a significant role in the reinterpretation and popularization of tarot as a tool for spiritual exploration and divination.
  7. Tarot Today: A Living Tradition: Today, tarot continues to evolve and adapt as a living tradition. The rich heritage of tarot has spawned countless variations and artistic expressions, while its symbolism and archetypes continue to inspire seekers of spiritual wisdom and personal guidance worldwide.

Unraveling the ancient roots of tarot reveals a captivating journey through time and across cultures. While the exact origins of tarot remain elusive, its historical tapestry reflects a blend of diverse influences from ancient Egypt, Islamic mysticism, playing cards, and the intellectual awakening of the Renaissance. The evolution of tarot continues to this day, with its enduring appeal rooted in its ability to unlock the mysteries of the human psyche and offer profound insights into our lives.