Origin of tarot is a mystery. What is known that tarot cards were popular card game in fifteen century Italy. Wealthy nobles commissioned beautifully painted decks from artists. Earliest and most complete one, that survived the time, was made by Visconti-Sforza around 1450.
In eighteenth century, number or occult scholars discovered the tarot cards. They recognized the cards were more powerful than the simple card game would reveal. So they set about to find the origins and history of cards they were so fascinated with. They find traces and connections with Egypt, Hermetic philosophy, Kabbalah and Alchemy.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, tarot was incorporated into practices of some secret societies, most famously; Order of the Golden Dawn.
Most commonly used as a tool for divination, tarot reading includes two sides. A seeker, person searching for answers to his/hers question and a reader, person skilled in interpreting the tarot.
After the deck is shuffled and cut by the seeker, the reader lays the cards down in the pattern. Each position in the pattern and each card have a meaning. Reader combines meanings of cards, their position and order to shed light on seekers question.
Let’s set aside shadowy images from movies, in which tarot is read in a back room of a seedy parlor, by an old woman hidden in shadows. If we consider the tarot simply as a deck of picture cards – how can people read anything from them?
The answer is hiding in the unconscious. We ignore our unconscious thoughts and reactions most of the time. This plain of memory, emotions and awareness is set deeply in each of us, but just outside our everyday experience.
Maybe no one will ever grasp the full power of the unconscious mind. But there are many techniques developed to help us explore its landscape – psychotherapy, meditation, visualization, dream interpretation. Tarot is one of the tools, designed to help explore unconscious mind.