Macabre Grimoire Chapter 24 Tarot
Hosts Ari Show, Robert Mehling, and Travis Nye
Produced by Robert Mehling
Voice Over by Dave Holly
Opening Theme Enhance Your Starry Night by Mouthful of Bees
Traditional playing cards were first seen in Europe around 1375, having been brought over from the Islamic societies where they had been used for centuries before that. The concept of playing cards have been around for much longer, but it’s important to mention that the origin of the Tarot isn’t exactly known. What we do know is that once playing cards came to Europe in 1375, it wasn’t until 1440 that Tarot cards were first mentioned.
In a letter from the Duke of Milan, there was a request for several decks of “triumph” cards to be used at a special event. The letter details the different cards that this deck contains and that they differed from regular “playing” cards. What’s interesting is that the origins of Tarot was first conceived as a game and not for divination purposes.
There were four suits with cards numbered one through 10 and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight, and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. The decks were used to play a game called Triumph that was similar to bridge. In triumph, 21 of the 22 special picture cards were permanent trump cards. The game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. People began referring to as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot, around 1530.
In 1781, in France and England, followers of the occult discovered Tarot cards. They saw the symbolic pictures of the cards as having more meaning than the simple trump cards they were used for at the time. They used the cards as a divination tool, and occult writers wrote about “the Tarot”. After this, the Tarot became a part of occult philosophy.
As a side note: One of the first decks I started learning how to do readings on was an actual deck of playing cards.
(While the Tarot deck itself isn’t mystical based on its origin as a game, it does show that it is a useful tool to help people tap into their natural intuition. We as humans see signs and symbols in everyday life and can discern deep meaning from everyday objects. It stands to reason that people in the 17th century would want to search for answers from a deck of playing cards especially when the artwork on those cards can give so much meaning to so many different situations).
Other people believe that Tarot cards originated in Egypt. In some circles, they are thought to be the sole surviving “book” from the great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt. In this theory, the cards are considered to be the hieroglyphical keys to life.
Beyond playing a game, which is still played to this day in parts of Europe, what we really want to talk about is Tarot cards and their association with the occult. (Insert spooky sounds). The earliest evidence of a tarot deck used for cartomancy comes from an anonymous manuscript from around 1750 which documents rudimentary divinatory meanings for the cards of the Tarocco Bolognese. The popularization of esoteric tarot started with Antoine Court and Jean-Baptiste Alliette in Paris during the 1780’s, using the Tarot of Marseilles. After French tarot players abandoned the Marseilles tarot in favor of the Tarot Nouveau around 1900, the Marseilles pattern is now used mostly by cartomancers.
Jean-Baptiste Alliette (Etteilla) was the first to issue a tarot deck specifically designed for occult purposes around 1789. In keeping with the misplaced belief that such cards were derived from the Book of Thoth, Etteilla’s tarot contained themes related to ancient Egypt.
The Tarot deck contains 78 cards and has two distinct parts:
- Major Arcana (Greater Secrets) consists of cards without suits. The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hirophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World, and The fool. Cards in this section of the deck are numbered in Roman numerals, while the Fool is the only unnumbered card sometimes indicating the beginning of the deck with the number zero.
- Minor Arcana (Lesser Secrets) consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits. Ten numbered cards and four court cards (King, Queen, Knight, Page/Jack).
o Batons/Wands (Rods or Staves)
o Coins (Pentacles or Discs)
- The most popular published deck of Tarot cards is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck which was illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith in 1910 from the instructions of academic mystic A.E. Waite, and published by the Rider Company. (Super mystical, am I right?)
We can at this point discuss Tarot more, or I can pull cards for each of you and see what the cards hold.
Thoth tarot deck a divinatory tarot deck painted by Lady Frieda Harris according to instructions from Aleister Crowley.