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History of Tarot cards? Associations?


Hi All,

Just on the look out for some accurate information on what tarot cards are actually about - their origins and what they were intended for and why they have a dark reputation around them in some circles.

I don't know where on this site to find this information.

This isn't meant to be a discussion trigger - it's more an enquiry.

Any clues?

All the best,

B
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I may live to regret this, but here goes.

Tarot originally was a trick-taking game deck, similar to Bridge, Whist, or Bezique. Like many other things (tortoise shells, tea leaves, palms, etc.), playing card decks also were used for fortune telling, but this was not their primary purpose.

Tarot decks were particularly appealing to fortune tellers because of the illustrated trumps. However, the fact remains that the divinatory meanings of playing cards (such as Tarot cards) are an "overlay," an addition to the cards in order to adapt them to something other than their intended primary purpose: playing card games.
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Thanks LRichard! This makes sense and it is a relief as there have been so many associations - I'm thinking with Alistair Crowley's name - that are disturbing.

The divination process is no problem - it's the more macabre inferences that I want to get my head around just so I know and understand more about what these are!!

Spent some time looking into the "Tarot History and Development" section on this site yesterday and am finding some info but nothing really clear. There is alot of attitude expressed in the posts but not so far I haven't found much critical theory, which might not ever be available, I concede.

Thank-you very much for taking the time to give me the explanation you knew about the playing cards. That is very helpful!!!

B
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Divination seems to be forbidden in the Bible. For example, from Deuteronomy chapter 18:
9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Since God condemns divination, it became assocociated with God's enemy, the Devil. Since Tarot cards are used in divination, Tarot came to be known as the Devil's picture book.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LRichard View Post
Divination seems to be forbidden in the Bible. For example, from Deuteronomy chapter 18:
9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. 11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Since God condemns divination, it became assocociated with God's enemy, the Devil. Since Tarot cards are used in divination, Tarot came to be known as the Devil's picture book.

Thanks LRichard! I'm a biblical scholar. God doesn't condemn divination. If the hermeneutics used are something approaching fundamentalism then someone can claim that, but it would be a problematic position to take intellectually. There must be something else that has drawn the negativity around them.
Could it be the intuitive/feminine authority they enable? Perhaps this was fiercely opposed by some throughout history, including but not limited to Churches?
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I personally haven't noticed much negativity concerning Tarot. I think that most people don't know or care anything about Tarot. It doesn't seem to be a particularly significant issue.
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That's awesome!!!
Yet you've had the generosity to flag some ideas about what might be related to my question. Thank-you SO much! That's very kind!

The areas that I have worked in for decades and study have infrequently brought issues up about Tarot over the years.
I'd just like to finally clear up any negative associations.

Ten thousand blessings to you
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonny View Post
Hi All,

Just on the look out for some accurate information on what tarot cards are actually about - their origins and what they were intended for and why they have a dark reputation around them in some circles.

I don't know where on this site to find this information.

This isn't meant to be a discussion trigger - it's more an enquiry.

Any clues?

All the best,

B
There are some good books that can fill you in on the history of tarot.

Paul Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot (link to reviews on AT) is very good and an enjoyable read, too.

The Tarot: History, Symbolism & Divination by Robert Place is also very good; it covers much of the same material though from a somewhat different point of view. It's a little dry in parts but I found it very interesting too.

Explaining the Tarot is a slim volume that anyone who's really interested in tarot history should read. It's actually two essays by Italian Renaissance authors discussing the allegories that they saw in the cards and in the game of tarot. You get the original texts and English translation, side-by-side, plus commentary from modern scholars.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonny View Post
That's awesome!!!
Yet you've had the generosity to flag some ideas about what might be related to my question. Thank-you SO much! That's very kind!

The areas that I have worked in for decades and study have infrequently brought issues up about Tarot over the years.
I'd just like to finally clear up any negative associations.

Ten thousand blessings to you
hi Bonny,

the negativity arrived with the playing cards and their identification as a "game of luck" - ... and the use in games played for money. "Games of skill" weren't usually attacked, but occasionally. Some card games had the attribute "games of skill".
The first sure prohibition note is from 1367, Bern (for playing cards). In the late 1370s followed other prohibitions.

At 1440, September 16, the first known note about Trionfi cards, is known ...
http://trionfi.com/giusto-giusti
... which is taken by most researchers as a fore-runner for the later Tarot cards (well, the cards were only in Italy then). These expensive cards were in the first phase limited to persons with enough money, and critique against them was rare. Occasionally they were officially noted as allowed games in city statutes. Prohibitions against other card games were not rare in the same time.

The few negative reactions against Trionfi cards came mostly from the Franciscans, who had specialised to attack gambling and especially also playing cards.

1455 attack by a Franciscan preacher
http://trionfi.com/etx-lecce-padova-1455

c. 1470
prohibition against Trionfi in Assissi (important city for the Franciscans)
found by Andrea Vitali
http://www.letarot.it/page.aspx?id=280&lng=ENG

c. 1500
an older important document with a list of 22 trumps, assumed is a Franciscan author
trionfi.com/0/p/17/

In 1505 appear at two places words in playing card contexts, which are similar to Tarot or Tarocchi, in Ferrara (June 1505) and Avignon (December 1505)
http://trionfi.com/0/p/23/
(article needs to be updated)

A use of Trionfi cards for divination isn't known for 15th century.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonny View Post
Spent some time looking into the "Tarot History and Development" section on this site yesterday and am finding some info but nothing really clear. There is alot of attitude expressed in the posts but not so far I haven't found much critical theory, which might not ever be available, I concede.
The single best book you could read about the history of tarot cards is A Wicked Pack of Cards. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/IS...sim/aeclectic/
It was out of print for quite some time, but it now recently back in print.

The link to the book on Aeclectic's page needs updated as it links to the out of print edition: http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/books...pack-of-cards/

As mentioned above, tarot cards started out as nothing more than playing cards. They've actually existed solely as playing cards for a longer period of time than they have existed as both playing cards and as divination cards.
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