No one knows where exactly the Tarot deck came but many people trace it back to card games in the 1600s. To say what came first, the card game or the divination, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. We take these past 10-15 years for granted with the age of the internet and the sudden popularization of the occult. Back even when I was young no one talked about tarot. You found many a few decks in Barns and Noble: mostly Rider Waite Tarot for Idiots. Before then it wasn’t even sold in stores. It was passed along from person to person and never talked about. I implore you to start asking the older generation about tarot. There will be a shocking number of people who will reply “Oh yea, I own a deck. I never read it but…” and then they will proceed to tell you how they acquired such a deck. This how Tarot spread, through word of mouth. Then eventually books were written and now there is a full display of tarot cards at Urban Outfitters for anyone occult curious.
So what is Tarot?
It’s in short a card deck made up of 4 minor suits and 1 set of major trump cards. This is referred to as the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana, the 22 trump cards, relate to big picture items in a person’s life whereas the minor suits relate to the day to day. Reading them is a dance between big picture and small picture, just as our lives are a dance between the little things and the important overarching lessons.
There are 3 schools of thought for Tarot: The Rider-Waite, The Thoth Deck, and the Marseille deck. Each deck has its own set of meaning and rules but many overlap. The key to picking a deck is pick the one that speaks to you then go from there.