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Introduction to the Tarot

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1 Introduction to the Tarot on Mon Jun 20, 2011 8:51 am

Introduction to the Tarot
In a reading, the Major Arcana represents states of being—your mental, emotional, and/or spiritual condition at the time of the reading, or in terms of the situation being described. In the reading, that Major Arcana describes events or situations, and each suit focuses on a different area of your life. In general, Swords describe your mental or intellectual state, and Cups your emotional life. Coins correspond to your physical or material status, and Wands to career, abilities or potentials. Divination techniques can bring clarifications to questions, situations and anything else that may need to be answered or some guidance in the right direction. No matter the card, the readers interpretations can turn a good card into a bad card and vise versa, This is known as reversal of the cards. Now this is not true for all cards, but it is for the majority of them. Sometimes the reversed meanings can be the same of a lesser degree of the original meaning. Again, it's all how the reader interprets the cards.

History of the Tarot
There are many theories about the origin of the Tarot, but no one knows for certain where the cards were first developed. Some authorities claim the Tarot evolved from the yarrow sticks used with the Chinese divination system called I Ching; others say that it was adopted from the legendary Book of Thoth. Still others place origin as recently as fourteenth or fifteenth century Europe, since the earliest known complete deck dates from that time. The most popular theory is that the Tarot was invented in ancient Egypt, and brought to Europe around the fourteenth century by wandering tribes of Gypsies. According to these scholars, the allegorical illustrations shown on the cards or the Major Arcana were derived from the teachings of the Secret Schools of Egypt. Papus, in Key of the Occult Science, explains that the kingdom was in danger of being overthrown, so the priests of ancient Egypt designed the Tarot as one way of preserving their secrets for initiates of future ages. The Major Arcana portrayed the stages of personal development required of initiates as they progressed toward the status of adept. By recording their teachings in a symbolic manner, it would be available to serious students of the occult arts, yet the Tarot deck itself would appear to be only an amusing game to the uninitiated. Other schools of thought also theorize that the Major Arcana is a record of the secret teachings of various underground religious groups. One such group to whom the origin of the Tarot is attributed is the Gnostics: early Christian sects often considered heretical for their spiritual beliefs, who were indeed forced to take their faith underground to escape persecution. Another theory suggests that the Tarot philosophy was derived from that of the Cabala. The order of the Major Arcana is connected to the Hebrew system of letters and numbers. The Cabala is a mystical Jewish tradition which teaches it is possible, through symbolic interpretation of ancient texts, to raise your consciousness above the level of mundane knowledge and lead you to an understanding of a union with the Divine. In this teaching, letters and numbers are not merely a way of writing down thoughts and events, but rather reservoirs of divine power which contain volumes of information and enlightenment accessible to the adept. (It is interesting to note that the Greek Neo-Pythagorean school also taught that letters and numbers were divine beings which possessed their own supernatural powers.) Many of the teachings of the Cabalists were never written down ; they were passed from teacher to student from outsiders. The kind of symbolism used in the Major Arcana is a way of preserving those secrets without making them readily available to the uninitiated. In this theory, then, the Tarot is an allegorical representation of the path to enlightenment, which again would be understandable only to those who were trained in this symbolic method of study. The origin of the Major Arcana is also in question. Some researchers believe they were part of the original Egyptian deck, others say they were added around the fourteenth century from an Italian card game known as Tarocchi. In fact, even the origin of the name “Tarot” is in doubt. One simple explanation is that the name was derived from the crossed lines which appear on the back of the cards , a design called Tarotee. Others say the name comes from the Tarocchi, which supplied the cards of the Minor Arcana. Etteilla, a great exponent of the Tarot, explains that the name derives from tar, “a path,” and ro or ros, “royal,” meaning together “ the “royal path of life.” J.F. Vaillent, states that “the great divinity Ashtaroth, As-taroth, is other than the Indo-Tarter Tan-Tara, the Tarot, the Zodiac.” And still, other authorities teach that both the Tarot and the Book of Thoth derive their names from the Egyptian word taru, meaning “to require and answer” or “to consult.” whatever the origin of the Tarot, it is clear that the symbolism on the cards is universal, speaking to many different cultures and philosophies. People of all religious, ethnic or national backgrounds have used the Tarot, and developed their own versions of the deck. And the one point on which all authorities agree is that the Tarot , especially the Major Arcana, contains a complete book of occult knowledge which can lead dedicated students to an understanding of both themselves and the mysteries of creation—if only you can learn to decipher their true meaning.

From the Tarot Came Playing Cards
It is said that playing cards of today came from the Tarot cards of yesteryear. The suit cards correspond closely to the 52 cards in a playing card deck. Wands are Clubs. Cups are representations of the Hearts. The Swords are said to resemble the Spades. Coins are Diamonds. In Tarot we have not only Queen and King face cards, we have Page and Knight cards for each suit, which were combined into the single Jack card as playing cards developed over time. The Joker of the today's playing card decks is said to represent the Fool of the Major Arcana. The same is said for the Ace as well. There is fifty-six Minor Arcana cards and fifty-two playing cards, including the Joker.


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