Tarot is a deck of cards consisting of four suits. Each suit has cards numbering from ace to ten and then four face cards which make up 14 cards. The deck also includes 21 extra cards plus the Fool. These cards have been used since prehistoric times for divination, although they surfaced in Europe beginning in the 1700s when they were used in ordinary card games.
The cards combine to form the arcana which are pictures explaining ancient wisdom. The first 22 cards are the major arcana with the last 56 describing the minor arcana. The cards are split into the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. The colors of the cards correspond to the qualities the elements are said to represent. The pictures on the cards date from prehistory and describe not only the ages of Man, but every aspect of life itself.
What Tarot Is Not
Tarot has been identified with the five major religions in various guises and symbolizes their tenets of wisdom. Some have declared them “evil”, or “magic”. Some believe the cards will enslave or brainwash people. What tarot is is pictures on paper shaped like cards. Any inference is in the spirituality of the beholder.
Another thing tarot is not is a set of rules and regulations. Persons seeking answers to questions outside themselves, that is to say, not spiritual in nature, will be disappointed. Representations on tarot cards and their interpretations are spiritual in nature and lead the seeker to study himself for the answers to his questions.
Egypt. The earliest mention of tarot comes from ancient Egypt, wherein all the knowledge of the ancient world was recorded in the first written records. Pictures and written wisdom were recorded on sheets of gold leaf. Ancient priests were the only persons qualified or, indeed, educated enough to read them.
Sumeria. Mesopotamian culture included pictographs which were interpreted by their priests. Astrology, numerology and ancient wisdom were recorded into the pictures which some believe are the basis of modern tarot cards.
Ancient Celts. Ancient Celts used tarot as a method of teaching the ancient wisdom brought by the original Druids from Atlantis. Many women were educated by the Druids in a time when the men were taught the same but concentrated on warfare, mostly. Thus were Druid priestesses teachers and wisewomen.
What Is Tarot? How Do Tarot Cards Work?
There are 22 major arcana. This corresponds to the number of branches on the Tree of Life and also the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The describe every facet of daily life and when seen together describe the universe as a whole. They are: The Fool, Magus, Priestess, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers, Chariot, Adjustment, Hermit,
Fortune, Strength, the Hanged Man, Death, Art, the Devil, Tower, Star, the Moon, the Sun, Aeon and Universe.
The minor arcana are: Wands (fire), Ace through Ten, Princess, Prince, Queen and Knight; Cups (water) containing the same range of cards; Swords (air) and Disks (earth). Manmade representations of the wisdom of God.