Tarot and a small bit of the history of Tarot
(Thanks to my cousin for sending an interesting link to get me started in researching and writing this out)
It was believed that in Ancient Egypt was the first to utilize cards as a form of divination. Tarot as I discussed briefly in my flash card event began in the 14th century in various parts of Europe. Utilizing what we use today as normal deck of playing cards. Each suit was made out of out of 10 pip cards (Ace to 10) and 4 face cards (Jack/Page, Knight, Queen and King)
The additional trump cards weren’t added into the tarot deck between 1440-50 in Milan, France and Florence. “The oldest deck surviving tarot cards are the 15 or so Visconti-Sforza tarot decks painted in the mid-15th century for the rulers of the Duchy of Milan.” (Wikipedia) Tarot began to expand and eventually grew into a 60 card deck featuring roman Gods. Another deck in Florence was made where it had 97 cards featuring astrological symbols.
Tarot at this time and for a long time was known just as a card game and nothing really further although I have a sense it was still used amongst some for cartomancy. The act of divination through cards or very simply card readings.
The first actual signs of documented cartomancy is found in 1750 which had divination meanings of what the cards represented. Tarot divination become more popular because of Antoine Court and Jean-Baptiste Alliette in Paris around 1780 utilizing the Tarot of Marseilles.
Etteilla (who was actually Jean-Baptiste) was the first to design and purpose the tarot deck for what its current use is for in and around 1789. His tarot contained themes related to ancient Egypt as it was belief that such cards came from the book of Thoth.
Thus the major and minor arcana were born. Major arcana were the trump cards and consisted of 22 cards. This is where you find cards like “The Fool”, “The Empress”, “The Hermit”. “Death”…you get the picture.
The minor arcana consists of 55 cards which is what we know from the beginning segment of this note that they were the creation of playing cards. From 1 to 10 and face cards. However, the imagery changed to batons, wands, swords and cups.
Three most common decks of used from older tarot is the Thoth deck, Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot (Yes the name changed and I will get to that in a minute!) and also Tarot of Marseilles.
So after all that why did the Rider-Waite Tarot change its name to Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot?
It all had to do with recgonizing a co-creator Miss Coleman Smith. She had a hand in the imagery of the of the Tarot deck that is so well known.
Pamela Coleman Smith was introduced to the Order by W.B Yeats. A.E. Waite caught sight of Pamela and commissioned her to do the tarot deck in 1909. She did numerous theatrical artworks for plays and advertisements during the World War as well. You’d think that she would have made a bunch off the tarot deck? However she didn’t receive the credit for the imagery and therefore didn’t see any money.
So why the name change? After the copyright expired 70 years after Waite had became deceased. After the copyright was able to be released to the America’s it became known as the Rider- Waite Tarot. It wasn’t until recently it was decided to include all of the working hands on this tarot making it the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot. This tarot deck alone has sold over 100 million copies and have been sold in 20 different countries.
There is also a myth that your first tarot deck should be “gifted”. This is not a true statement. This idea of gifting would’ve been back in the day when tarot decks were far and few between. They would’ve been passed down from family members or seer to seer. Now-a-days there are over thousands of different tarot decks, so its up to you to find one that resonates with you! Your spirit/soul will pick a tarot deck that is appropriate for you to have and practice with at this given time.
I wasn't gifted my first deck. I went and purchased my own deck, which I still have today. I have worked with this particular deck since I was thirteen so over 21 years. It is still my favorite tarot deck and I have a special bond with it.
How to bond with your deck?
Take time to look at your cards and feel your cards through your fingers. Look at the imagery and feel the imagery. Shuffle your cards thoroughly and do a simple spread. Work with your deck once, twice, thrice a week if you wish just to build a energy bond with it. Always thank the energy, your deck, the spirits that assist you while you work with your deck.
Remember to clean your deck after you use it. You can knock it against a surface three times. Smudge it with incense or cedar of your choosing.
You can even meditate with your deck and focus on the intent of bonding with it. This helps facilitate the energy connection between you and the deck.
Just like any tool in your tool belt, it needs to be practiced and with time there it becomes easier to understand your cards and to have a stronger bond with your deck. There is a lot of courses out there online and offline that you can go to learn about the meaning of the different tarot cards and different spreads out there. There are also very good book resources out there as well to assist with understanding the tarot and tarot cards themselves. Remember you don't have to start with Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot and if you choose a different deck, be sure to refer to its guide book as sometimes the deck book may have different interpretations then that of the actual tarot.
I hope you have found this informative and just as interesting as I have. <3