The origins of the Tarot are surrounded with myth and lore. It is hard to know for sure what the facts are. The Tarot has been thought to come from places like India, Egypt, China and Morocco. Others say the Tarot was brought to us from the Sufis or the Jewish Cabbalists. Still others contend that the origin of the tarot was from Moses. In the library of Alexandria, in Egypt, there were scrolls that were based on the Book of Thoth, an ancient book that came from Egypt’s mystery schools. One theory is that the illustrations on the Tarot cards are secret teachings of the Book of Thoth hidden in the innocent pictures.
It seems that wherever there was a secret ‘word of mouth’ tradition handed down from teacher to pupil, it was hailed as the origin or beginning of Tarot. A large group believed it was the Gypsies who brought the tarot to Europe, the word gypsy being a corrupted version of Egyptian. That is highly unlikely, since evidence points to gypsies not using Tarot until the 20th century. Before that, palmistry was their preferred method of fortune telling.
Made up of no less than seventy-eight cards, most decks of Tarot cards have similar meanings. Tarot cards come in all sizes with all types of artwork on both the front and back – some even make their own Tarot cards. The meaning and the message of each one of those seventy-eight cards, however, always remains the same.
Many believe that Tarot cards serve only to tell the future through psychic readings, but this is not true. When used traditionally, Tarot cards speak of the past and present, and are supposed to give clues and ideas about the future that you are potentially heading into. Tarot cards are made up of four suits – much like any regular deck of cards. In fact, Tarot cards have all the same values as traditional playing cards: ace through king for each suit. Only one extra card is added to the royal family in Tarot cards – The page, his position is just under that of the knight (also known as the jack).
The suits are as follows: wands, which in general speak of esoteric issues such as spirituality or creativity; swords, which speak of conflicts and tensions; cups (or pentacles), which are always about money; and cups, which deal in relationship matters and love. The other twenty-two cards of the standard Tarot deck are called the Major Arcana cards, and are all very specific. Cards such as the Devil, the Tower, and Death are in the Major Arcana.