Saturday, April 18, 2009
There are many different theories as to the true origin of the Tarot deck, but the first documented deck was painted in fifteenth century Italy.
Several other early tarot-like sequences of portable art survive to place the Visconti deck in context. Later confusion about the symbolism stems, in part, from the occult decks, which began a process of steadily attributing paganism to it and universalizing the symbolism to the point where the underlying Christian allegory has been somewhat obscured (as, for example, when the Rider-Waite deck of the early Twentieth Century changed "The Pope" to "The Hierophant" and "The Popess" to "The High Priestess").
Tarot cards eventually came to be associated with mysticism and magic. Tarot was not widely adopted by mystics, occultists and secret societies until the 18th and 19th centuries. The relationship between tarot cards and playing cards is well documented. Playing cards first appeared in Christian Europe some time before 1367, the date of the first documented evidence of their existence, a ban on their use, in Bern, Switzerland. Before this, cards had been used for several decades in Islamic Al Andalus. Early European sources describe a deck with typically 52 cards, like a modern deck with no jokers.The 78-card tarot resulted from adding the Fool and 21 trumps to an early 56-card variant (14 cards per suit).