An Attempt to Trace Tarot Card History
There are innumerable myths surrounding the history of the Tarot cards. Some of them include beliefs that these are mystical cards that are capable of transporting Egyptians to another world, while some others vouch that they were invented by gypsies, even going on to the extent that the tarot was handed over top us by alien cultures.
To put such false beliefs behind and to trace tarot history was undertaken by many and results yielded state that the first Tarot deck was found in Italy under the name of Torocco in the 14th century. These were said to be the creation of Bembo, and Gertrude Moakley and in her book she mentions that the Torocco signifies triomfi- a parade that marked major celebrations in the country. Few decks remain from this era, perhaps due to the issue of paper preservation.
A gap of over 300 years remains in tarot history where no trace of these decks is to be found and then they surfaced in the 17th century in the possession of Court De Gebelen who attached a different meaning to them rather than a simple game of cards. This could be due to the fact that he belonged to a society that practiced occult beliefs."Le Monde Primitif" penned by him explaining the various symbolisms contained in the cards, which he associated with Egyptian culture is said to be the first of written works about the Tarot.
The acceptance of Tarot as a divination tool maybe attributed to Etteilla who was a popular occultist and he gave his own meaning to these cards. Again in the 19th century the tarot was correlated with the Tree of Life and the Kabalah, a major tool for man to develop himself. This was an idea coined by Eliphas Levi, who at first embraced priesthood but later on turned to magic and occult.
The twentieth century Tarot is based on the beliefs and principles of S. Liddel Mathers who wrote a treatise on them. The cards in use at present were invented by Rider Waite wherein each card has a story to tell. Some of the characters and stories are identifiable with those from the Bible and even fairy tales.