What is the Tarot?

The Tarot, or simply Tarot, is a method of divination in which the tarot-deck is used to provide insight into hidden or unknown knowledge. Like other forms of divination, the Tarot is limited to the confines of the question(s) asked. Each card, acts in relation to and conjunction with the layout or “spread” it is placed in. Within the deck, the cards are broken into the Major Arcana, and Minor Arcana, and from there, four suits (the Wands, Cups, Swords and Pinnacles) make up the Minor Arcana.

The Major Arcana is made up of 22 cards and act as divine oracles. Often acting as major points of wisdom or insight to the inquirer / reader.

The Minor Arcana is made of four suits consisting of 56 cards in total. Each suit holds a theme or general line of guidance; each card focuses into more specifics of the insight/wisdom. Each deck, outside of the traditional decks, will vary in suits and meanings; however, the general understanding is that the Minor Arcana pinpoints on and dial in as much as possible on the insight and wisdom of the reading.

The Origins of the Tarot

The origin of the tarot is unknown. With the tarot’s archetypal roots that go back 2,000 years ore more, tarot has become a repository of ancient wisdom.

Some authorities seek to put it back as far as the ancient Egyptian Mysteries; others try to bring it forward as late as the fifteenth or even the sixteenth century. While there are many theories on which ancient or arcane society invented the roots of the Tarot, most historians agree that it can be traced to Italy in the early 1430s. It sprung up as a game for the noble, which over time came to be used in cartomancy (divination via cards, often playing cards) to where it is now, one of the most famous methods and tools for divination.

The opinion of most occultists is that the Tarot can be linked back to Ancient Egypt, or even further back. Helena Blavatsky mentioned Tarot in The Secret Doctrine and The Unveiling of Isis connecting the origins of Tarot with Ancient Egypt.

Aleister Crowley, who created the Thoth deck, said, “The origin of this pack of cards is very obscure.”