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A Brief History of Tarot Cards, and Crazy Facts You Didn’t Know


First off: what exactly are tarot cards? Many people think of some mysterious woman draped in dramatic fabrics, warning you of your impending death or a man you might meet in the near future. Tarot cards, or “Taromancy” loosely translates to “looking for premonitions.” Many believe that tarot cards are a way of predicting your future, but in reality, they’re a way for you to help manifest and self-actualize your destiny and the path you were meant to be on. It can give insight into both the past and the future. Still, there are many things about tarot reading that you didn’t know, including its surprising history.

While they sometimes have a bad rap for being black magic or a work of the devil, Tarot actually originates not as a way to fortune-tell, but instead as a card game in the 15th century, called Tarocchi. Only in the 18th century did it start to be used in the context of divination. Tarot was the first deck of cards ever invented, and all other playing cards were inspired by it.

A man called Jean Baptise Alliette, from France, published the first real guide to tarot card reading. He gave the deck of cards their meaning, drawing influence and inspiration from the natural elements and facts about astronomy. He assigned a specific order to the cards which is still used today. Then, in 2909, tarot got another update. This one, by tarot reader A.E. Waite and William Rider, explored the scenes that tell a story when cards are placed together.

Here are some other intriguing facts about the art of tarot that you might not know.

1. There are 78 cards in a deck of tarot cards, which are divided into two Arcanas. The major Arcana, with 22 cards, help determine the journey towards self-enlightenment, while the Minor Arcana, with 56 cards has four suits which each represent a different elemental signs.

2. There are four suits in the Minor Arcana, which are Wands (Fire), Pentacles (Earth), Cups (Water), and Swords (Air). While Wands represent ambition and career, Pentacles represent home and money while Cups is a reference to our emotional self. Swords represents over-thinking and conflicts.

3. You don’t need to be spiritual to read tarot. Instead, to maximize your skills reading the cards, dig deep in the realms of knowledge and intuition, which can help you interpret better.

4. Every person has a tarot birth card which is aligned with the Major Arcana. To see what you birthday card is, add up your birthday numbers. As an example: 11/22/1990 would break down to 1 + 1 + 2 + 2+ 1 +9 +0. The result is 25 — now add those digits together (2 +5) and you have your card number which would be 7 in this case. You can look up the meaning of your tarot birth card to help guide your journey.


5. Tarot can be used for meditation. Choose a card you feel naturally drawn to, close your eyes, and imagine this card expanding in size before you. Now, step into the card and further explore its energy and imagery.

6. No cards in tarot are “good” or “bad”. It’s all in the interpretation. And it’s important to remember that you have free will. Something may be representing the end of a phase, or a new beginning in your life. A devil card doesn’t mean you’re cursed -it might just be an indicator of greed, an underlying problem, or power.

7. There’s a rumor going around that someone else should buy your first deck of tarot cards for you, but that’s nonsense! It’s a myth, and you can definitely buy your cards for yourself. You can go right ahead and ignore this superstition.

8. They can be used for spells and rituals, and are known to add a little extra “oomph” to spell-casting, if you’re into that kind of thing.

9. Playing cards can actually be used to read tarot. Just transfer the knowledge of the minor cards in a Tarot deck to the 52 regular playing cards, merging Knights and Pages into Jacks.

10. While they might not help you learn more about objective truths, tarot cards can help shed light on an inner truth that can help many o us come to term with personal struggles.

11. The meaning of divination cards can change over time. They will depend on every era’s unique culture, along with the needs of the individual user.