Despite the popularity of Tarot cards in divination and fortune telling, it seems the only evidence there is to the origins of the Tarot can be found in the cards that were made in Italy, around 1420. The symbolism of the trumps can be found in the European art of the time, with some drawings being exactly the likeness of those found on Tarot cards. History tells us that a scholar named Marziano da Torona, who was secretary to the Duke of Milan, may have invented the Tarot deck. Marziano was a scholar and an expert astrologer. The young duke, Filippo Maria Visconti instructed Marziano to create a game, using a deck that would replace the common suits of swords, coins, staves and cups.
The duke wanted the new deck to have cards that represented virtues, riches, pleasures and purities. Marziano went on to create the card deck that Visconti wanted. He wrote a companion book to go with the deck of cards. It is on display in the Paris National library. In the book, there are no divine meanings to the cards, but no real rules for a card game, either. The book focuses on the symbolic meaning of the pictures and the different ranks of the depicted characters. Michelino da Besozzo is the Italian artist credited with painting the cards.
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.