The History of the Tarot
The origins of Tarot are not known. There have been various theories put forward as to its origins but none can been accurately confirmed. The questions surrounding the origins of the Tarot add to its appeal as a divination system. Even the origin of the name cannot be explained: Les Tarots is a French card game (still played today in southern France and French speaking north Africa), the ancestor of Bridge, which is known in Italy as Tarocchi. All that can be said of the Tarot with some certainty is that it first appeared in the courts of Europe in the fourteenth century. In the middle of the fifteenth century, a painted set of Tarot cards by an artist Bonifacio Bembo, was a gift at the wedding between the Sforza and Visconti families. One hundred and fifty years (in 1300) before this wedding gift of cards, Catholic Church officials burnt Maria Visconti to death as a heretic, for being the first woman pope. Classic Tarot decks had a card called the Female Pope, which would indicate its origins to about 1300AD.
When the Romanies (‘Gypsies’) came to Europe from Africa, they used the cards as a means of fortune telling. The Gypsies were incorrectly thought to have come from Egypt (hence the name) and with statements made by Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1781, Tarot was thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt. Court de Gebelin claimed he had discovered the book of Thoth, in the game of Tarot. Thoth was the ancient Egyptian god of magic and writing and the ‘book of Thoth’ was not lost in the mists of time, but rather, as Court de Gebelin claimed, in plain view of all in the form of the Tarot. Inspired by this, an occultist who called himself Etteila, created a Tarot deck devoted to divination rather than game playing.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Eliphas Levi, expanded Court de Gebelin’s suggestions but also linked the Tarot primarily to the Jewish system of mysticism, the Qabalah. The correspondences between the Qabalah and the Tarot are strong: the Tarot has 22 trump cards The Major Arcana), the Hebrew alphabet 22 letters; the Tarot has four suits, the Qabalah teaches that God created the Cosmos in four steps or ‘worlds’. The Qabalah focuses on the four letter name of God and the Tree of Life with its ten ‘Sefirot’, each of the four suits of the Tarot have four court cards and ten numbered cards. But despite all of the correspondences, there is no mention of the Tarot in the many Qabalah writings.
At the turn of this century, Levi’s ideas were expanded to include magical rituals and astrology, by an esoteric group called the Order of the Golden Dawn. While this order only lasted a few years, its influence continues even today. From this group’s members, two of the most popular Tarot decks of the twentieth century were designed. Arthur Edward Waite and the artist Pamela Coelman Smith designed the Rider Waite deck, which has been used as the basis of many contemporay decks, while Aleister Crowley designed ‘The Book of Thoth’ deck, painted by Lady Frieda Harris.
The Rider Waite deck was considered revolutionary in terms of its design, as up until then, only the cards of the Major Arcana were illustrated with figures, scenes and symbols. Waite and Colman Smith were the first to illustrate the Minor Arcana and thus allow better interpretations of the Minor Arcana.
Divination Lore: The Question
The Oracle can be consulted for almost anything, from money matters to emotional needs, to spiritual aspirations. The Question, and how well it is phrased determines the answers the Oracle will give The Client. Therefore, The Client must know their reason for requesting the divination. If The Client is not clear as to his/her objective, how then can The Client expect clear answers and guidance?
Prior to a divination (or consulting of the Oracle), The Client should write out what we will call The Question. In occult tradition there is power, and magic, in the written word. But on a more mundane level, this gives you a focus, and consequently, the ability to think for yourself and to be more discerning.
If The Client writes out The Question. This should be written neatly on a clean piece of paper. Don’t use an old scrappy piece of paper! This is insulting, both to you and to the Oracle. Treat yourself and the Oracle with respect! White paper is used unless one is using coloured paper that corresponds to The Question of Desire. The Question can also be written in the applicable colour, but if it is not, then it is written in BLACK or lead pencil.
Rules for the Question
There are certain ‘rules’ for the wording of The Question, be it written, or held in your mind.
The Question must be precise and to the point. No negative words should be used e.g. not, don’t want, fear etc.
A time limit must be given. Example: if you are asking about owning a house the answer may be YES but this could be in twenty years time!
Unless the Divination layout is for a YES/NO answer, don’t word your Question for a YES/NO answer. Example: if you want to know if you will marry someone, rather ask:
“What will be the outcome of my relationship with ‘x’ in the next 6 months.” or “What are the prospects for marrying ‘x’ in 6 months time”.
This way you’ll receive some guidance as to the action you can take to ensure success, or the obstacles in your way that are preventing you from getting what you want. Remember that nothing in the future is cut and dried! You are the master of your own destiny, and by your actions, and with forewarning, you can change what appears to be pre-destiny or fate.
If you want to know what actions you should be taking to gain something state
“What actions can I take to ensure that my (name situation) is successful”.
If you want to know about winning a competition, making a business successful etc. you must describe/name it in precise and unambiguous terms. You might ask about your business, but a hobby of yours could turn into a ‘business’, but only bring in ‘pin money’!
If you are asking for a general reading on your life, then you must select a specific aspect of your life, as well as stating a time, e.g.
“Within the next 6 months, what will my financial status be.”
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