Tarot Guide: History, Decks and Most Popular Tarot Readers

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Not many people know arothat Tarot reading can be learned. This skill helps in developing a spiritual life covering not only the physical but also the emotional, mental, spiritual and karmic levels. By learning the Tarot cards, one is then able to be aware of the areas in his life that he or she can change and improve. It’s all about discovering and knowing one’s self on a deeper level through the cards being used. Every Tarot card covers the many aspects of life from relationships to money and other material concerns without any judgment.

How to Read Tarot Cards

The process of learning Tarot card reading may not be easy. It takes patience and a lot of research to be able to learn the basics and eventually develop one’s skills. It is very important to know the tarot card meanings. There’s a psychic aspect here that’s involved as well.

Firstly, one needs to be familiar with the symbols but take note that there’s no standard formula in the way one should read Tarot cards. Whatever technique that becomes comfortable is usually what a reader should practice.

Choosing the decks you will use is also very important. With the many decks available these days each with their own unique systems and symbols, one should find a deck with images that you can relate to. The most common is the Rider-Waite deck.

For people using the cards in fortune-telling, they are able to easily recognize the associations of the person being read to and the actual images on the cards. In short, the cards with the best illustrations can provide clear visions of their subjects.

Types of Tarot Cards

Despite the existence of various designs, the Tarot de Marseille is considered one of the most important design. There are also tarot card decks that were made for the sake of art and come in only 22 trump cards. The most common are the French, German, Italo-Portuguese, Occult and the Non-occult Italian-suited decks.

French. The French suited tarot decks were first seen in Germany during the 18th century. They featured scenes of animals on trumps which card maker Gobl of Munich is well known for. The modern French decks now showcase specific patterns such as the Industry and Luck (54 cards), Cego (54 cards) and Tarot Nouveau (78) and are usually used for card games.

German. The German suited decks come in different types. Those for Württemberg, Brixental, and Bavarian have 36 cards and are used to play the Schafkopf card game.

Italo-Portuguese. This tarot deck specifically called Tarocco Siciliano is known as such because it uses the Portuguese suit system that is a mix of the Spanish and Italian pips. It also has 64 cards which, unlike the others, are smaller and not reversible.

Non-occult Italian. First created in the 15th century in northern Italy, this non-occult tarot deck was considered the oldest form and the cards are still used to play games. It also involves three kinds of deck such as the Tarocco Piemontese, Swiss 1JJ Tarot and Tarocco Bolognese.

Occult. The Occult tarot decks are based on the non-occult decks and Etteilla is credited for issuing the first deck designed for occult purposes with themes covering ancient Egypt. This deck has 78 cards and has two parts – the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards without suitst while the Minor Arcana has 56 cards consisting of 14 cards.

History of Tarot Cards

The early beginnings of the Tarot cards can be traced back to the 14th century when they were first used as game cards. Originally, they were meant for playing a game similar to the bridge of modern times. It was in Europe that these cards were first played through the Italian tarocchini and French tarot games.

In Italy, wealthy families there were said to have commissioned expensive decks called “carte da trionfi” which means cards of triumph. They featured swords, coins, polo sticks, suits and courts with a king and two male underlings.

Similar to the usual playing cards, the tarot also has four suits but these vary by region in Europe. The French suits are used in Northern Europe, Latin suits in the southern part and the German suits in the central part of the region. Each suit has 14 cards but also has a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card called the Fool.

By the 18th century, these cards were already used in tarotology for purposes of divination. It was used for such purpose in English-speaking countries where the cards were not used in playing games. By then, the mystical applications for the cards had spread from Italy to other parts of Europe. One writer in France Antoine Court de Gebelin even wrote that the tarot was based on a holy book authored by Egyptian priests and brought by gypsies from Africa to Europe.

Back then, the imagery featured in the cards were a reflection of the important aspects of the real world where the players lived in. The Christian symbolism used, for example, reflected the Christian world. Eventually, the illustrations showcased the intention of specific designers although they still maintained the traditional tarot structure of four suits. Through the years, various versions of the tarot cards have been developed including those for purposes of fortune-telling. The images of the modern ones are simpler, more specific and less universal and enthusiasts can easily distinguish the evolution of certain illustrations by just comparing the different decks of cards.

Popular Tarot Card Readers

Tarot card readers today are growing in number but here are some of them who have a mark since the 19th century. And while mostly women are known to be skilled in reading tarot cards, there were men in the past skilled in this as well. It should also be noted that other than fortune telling, card reading is also used to make people feel better.


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Tara Green

Among the living tarot card readers, Tara Green is one of the most well-known. Claiming to be a metaphysical teacher, she is well trained not only in daily tarot card reading but also in astrology, dream work and symbols. She admits, though, that not everyone can read tarot cards adding that one needs to have an open mind and be able to fully trust their abilities.

Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942)

Arthur Edward Waite was one of those credited for designing tarot cards along with Pamela Coleman Smith and his cards became famous in the 19th century. He also incorporated new knowledge into the cards being a member of a secret society of occultists. Apart from using the cards to discover a person’s inner characteristics, Waite realized that they, too, can be used to foretell the future.

Mlle. Lenormand. (1772-1843)

Mlle learned how to read tarot cards at a young age with the help of the gypsies. She received her first deck when she was 14 years old and is known to have made predictions for Napoleon and his wife, Josephine. It was her association with Napoleon that made her popular as a tarot card reader.

Ma Prem Usha (1937-2008)

Ma Prem Usha’s involvement in tarot reading was foretold by one of the Hungarian gypsies she interviewed in the past. She brushed aside that prediction and did not even give it a second thought. It was only a few years later when she came across a tarot reading book that she got interested. Eventually, she was hooked to it to the point of quitting her job and starting on tarot card reading. She is well known in Delphi.

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