What Are Tarot Cards? What is the Tarot?
Tarot cards are a collection of 78 archetypes, pictures and symbols, illustrations, presented as a deck of playing cards. Tarot cards seem to have originated in Italy, around 500 years ago, and were initially used to play a game called Triumphs. Over time, however, it became clear that in some way the Tarot cards were a ‘picture compilation of universal imagery and symbology’, according to Jana Riley in “TAROT Dictionary and Compendium”. The Tarot is a collection of symbols that defy time and space. The imagery is ageless, but very specific to where we are in our daily lives. We don’t know how old the Tarot actually is although some attribute it to ancient Egypt since the Gypsies (who migrated from Egypt into Europe) in the covered wagons used the Tarot as divination tools to those who would secretly come to them for the guidance a tarot reading could provide. The Tarot cards were not originally intended as a divination tool but as it began to be used for tarot readings people quickly learned the predictive accuracy of the tarot cards.
There are many who believe tarot cards originated as a meditation medium. As you look and focus on the cards individually, you are able to see and understand the symbolism on the card and how that symbolism can be applied to you, your life, or for a tarot reading client, if you are a professional tarot reader. The symbols contained within the tarot cards can be applied to everyone regardless of race, religion, doctrine or personal belief. They are universal, they are ancient, they are the archetypes who define who we are on our journey through life.
Tarot cards are broken down into three sections: the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana and the Court Cards. Arcana simply means hidden or secret knowledge (the Occult). The Major Arcana are a collection of 22 tarot cards illustrating the major archetypes of ‘Man’ on his travel through his lifetime beginning as the Fool on his journey. These Major Archetypes represent the steps the initiate must take on his spiritual journey as he works through his trials and challenges to enlightenment. When giving or receiving a tarot card reading, when these cards appear they hold a deeper significance. The Minor Arcana are a total of 40 tarot cards (1 to 10) consisting of four suits: cups, wands, swords and pentacles (or disks). The Court Tarot Cards are 16 cards who are the King, Queen, Knight and Page (Prince/Princess) who belong to each of the four suits.
Each of the 78 cards has numerous individual meanings. Tarot Cards are also read in combinations of 2,3,4 or more cards which also can have literally hundreds of interpretations. The Tarot is infinite in its wisdom and knowledge and anyone can receive answers to any question they have with a tarot cards for a tarot card reading or tarot reading.