The Origins of Tarot: Myth or Reality?

3 Cards Tarot Reading

The Tarot, with its enigmatic symbolism and mystical allure, has captivated the hearts and minds of people for centuries. As we delve into the ancient practice of Tarot reading, one question that arises is the origin of the Tarot itself. The origins of Tarot have been shrouded in mystery, with various theories and legends circulating throughout history. In this article, we embark on a journey to explore the origins of Tarot, examining the myth and reality that surround its fascinating history.

The Mythical Beginnings: One popular myth surrounding the origins of Tarot suggests that the cards were initially created by ancient Egyptian priests as a sacred tool for divination and spiritual guidance. According to this theory, the wisdom of the Egyptian civilization was encoded into the Tarot’s symbols and imagery. However, there is little historical evidence to support this claim, and it is widely regarded as a myth.

The Italian Connection: The most widely accepted theory places the origins of Tarot in 14th-century Italy, specifically in the region of Lombardy. Tarot cards were initially used for a game called “Tarocchi,” which was similar to modern-day bridge. The earliest known surviving Tarot decks, such as the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, showcase intricate artwork and elaborate imagery. These decks were primarily owned by noble families, suggesting that Tarot was initially a luxury pastime among the upper classes.

Tarot as a Divination Tool: While Tarot was initially created for gaming, it eventually evolved into a divination tool. The Tarot’s rich symbolism and archetypal imagery lent themselves well to the practice of fortune-telling and spiritual exploration. In the 18th century, Tarot experienced a revival during the rise of occult societies, such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. These societies imbued Tarot with esoteric meaning, incorporating elements of astrology, numerology, and Kabbalah into its interpretation.

The Influence of Occultism: The 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a surge in the popularity of Tarot as a divination tool. Influential figures, such as Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith, published the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, which became one of the most widely recognized and influential Tarot decks in the world. This deck introduced subtle changes to the traditional Tarot structure, further emphasizing the connection between Tarot and esoteric symbolism.

The Mystery Continues: Despite our best efforts to uncover the true origins of Tarot, many aspects of its history remain a mystery. The lack of written records from its early days and the nature of oral traditions and cultural transmission contribute to the ambiguity surrounding its origin story. Nevertheless, the enduring appeal of Tarot lies in its ability to offer profound insights, guidance, and self-reflection to those who engage with its cards.

The origins of Tarot, while still shrouded in myth and mystery, are believed to be rooted in 14th-century Italy, where the cards were initially created for gaming. Over time, Tarot evolved into a divination tool, merging with occult practices and capturing the imaginations of individuals seeking spiritual guidance. While the exact origins of Tarot may remain elusive, its enduring power and symbolism continue to inspire and fascinate generations. Whether we view its history as myth or reality, the Tarot remains a potent tool for self-reflection, spiritual exploration, and the pursuit of personal growth.