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Basic Tarot Knowledge

Brief History of the Tarot


The Ancestors of the Tarot cards might have their origin in the fourteenth century. At this time playing cards were created by European artists. They featured four different suits, similar to the suits of the tarot cards of today. Back then the cards were used for games.

In the mid-fourteenth century additional cards, depicting allegorical scenes, were added. They are known as the trump cards and are called the Major Arcana in a tarot deck.  The word arcana means secret.


The oldest surviving tarot cards have its origin in Italy and were created for the  Visconti-Sforza family, the rulers of Milan. 

Seemingly in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century the practice of divination with cards became popular.


The Anatomy of a Tarot Deck


A classic Tarot deck consists of 78 cards and is divided into The Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. But there are also modern variations with cards that are added to the deck.

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The Major Arcana


consists of 22 cards depicting archetypal figures or events. They are considered to deal with the more meaningful, life-changing and spiritual events of life. In a reading the cards of the Major Arcana are of a higher significance than the Minor Arcana cards.

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The Minor Arcana


consits of the 56 Suit cards and represents the more mundane aspects of life.

When they appear in a reading the influence on our life is rather fleeting.

Within the Minor Arcana there are 4 different Suits, which are each connected to a certain element and the attributes of the element. They are listed as follows:

Each of the four Suits consists of 14 cards. There are 10 Suit cards numbered from 1 to 10, which are followed by the Court Cards:

Page, Knight, Queen and King

The Court Cards can represent people in our life, characteristis of ourselves or the characteristics of a matter.

© Illustrations from the Radiant Rider-Waite 2015 reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems Inc., Stanford, CT 06902. c. 2015 by U.S. Games Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

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