HISTORY OF TAROT
There is a lot of mystery as to where Tarot cards originated and when using them for divination, came from. Many say Egypt, as some form of cards were reputedly used to communicate with those who spoke other languages in Memphis, after the Library of Alexandre was burned. But this claim has never been proved.
We do know that cards were used for games in China as well as in Persia, before they were used in Europe. So many believe that they made their way through the trade routs into Europe. The earliest mention of cards being used in Europe is during the 14Th century with suites similar to the present Tarot deck we use.
As the cards contain symbolism from many different cultures, including Egyptian, Mithras religion, Pagan and Celtic belief we can assume that they were the result of a mixture of the symbolism of many different cultures at that time.
However, these cards were initially used for playing games.
It is interesting to note that at the time, different cards were created to teach certain things such as Mythology, Religion and geography. Much as we used to use old fashioned flash cards.
The first known documented use of Tarot cards for divination was in Northern Italy between 1430 and 1450 in the cities of Milan, Bologna and Ferrara.
With the oldest surviving Tarot cards belonged to the Visconti-Sforza family who ruled Milan.
In 1540 a book was published which shows how to use the cards for divination. It was called The Oracles of Francesco Marcolino da Forli.
The Italian word "Tarocchi" Comes from the valley of the Taro river in northern Italy so we can attribute much of the way we see and use modern Tarot cards to that region.
Manuscripts from 1735 ( The Square of Sevens) and 1750 ( Pratesi Cartomancer) Give instructions on how to lay out the cards as well as meanings of the individual cards for divination.
In 1781 Antoine Court de Gebelin, Frecnh linguist, occultist, Mason and member of the Lodge of the Philaltes wrote a history of the Tarot. He believed the cards originated in Egypt. That that the major Arcana was from the Book of Thoth, holding the knowledge that was once written in hieroglyphic and burned burned in the destruction of the Library of Alexandra. His theory was that the cards hid information on the structure the world that had been hidden in the cards by Egyptian priest so as not to loose their knowledge.
These theories were later expounded upon by Eiphas Levi , who had been a Deacon of the Catholic Church, and author of occult works, He believed that there were links between Tarot and and the Jewish Quabbalah. As well as the Tarot having origins in Ancient Egypt.
Te Hermetic order of the Golden Dawn in England then used some of these ideas and created the systems of divination, laying out the cards as well as their meanings, that we know and use today. A.E Wiate (1857-1942) who was a member of the Golden Dawn and who started his own school of mysticism, worked with artist Pamela Coleman Smith to create the basis of most of the decks we have available today.