By Helen Farley
The enigmatic and richly illustrative tarot deck finds a bunch of odd and iconic mages, reminiscent of The Tower, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged guy and The idiot: over which loom the terrifying figures of dying and The satan. The 21 numbered cards of tarot have continuously exerted robust fascination, method past their unique function, and the a number of resonances of the deck are ubiquitous. From T. S. Eliot and his "wicked pack of playing cards" in "The Waste Land" to the psychic divination of Solitaire in Ian Fleming's "Live and allow Die"; and from the satanic novels of Dennis Wheatley to the deck's adoption by way of New Age practitioners, the playing cards have nowa days develop into inseparably hooked up to the occult. they're now considered as arguably the most important medium of prophesying and foretelling. but, because the writer indicates, initially the tarot have been used as leisure cards by way of the Italian the Aristocracy within the Renaissance. It used to be merely a lot later, within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, that the deck grew to become linked to esotericism sooner than evolving ultimately right into a diagnostic instrument for brain, physique and spirit. this is often the 1st e-book to discover the remarkably assorted ways that tarot has encouraged tradition. Tracing the altering styles of the deck's use, from online game to mysterious oracular gadget, Helen Farley examines tarot's emergence in fifteenth century Milan and discusses its later institutions with astrology, kabbalah and the Age of Aquarius.
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Extra resources for A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism
118 Court de Gébelin was well-versed in all of the esoteric currents that permeated French culture at that time including Rosicrucianism, Hermeticism, kabbalism, the works of Emmanuel Swedenborg and esoteric Freemasonry. 120 Here Court de Gébelin reported that some time in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, he had come across some ladies playing the game of tarot. In Paris these cards were unusual, and he had not seen them since he was a boy. 121 The trump cards he regarded as a disguised assemblage of ancient Egyptian religious doctrines.
Unless the trump cards that characterise tarot were specifically mentioned, it is unclear which type of deck was being referred to. In most European languages, the term for ‘card’ was derived from the Latin ‘charta’ which means ‘paper’,192 but this is frustratingly non-specific. 193 To further add to the confusion, the term ‘naïbes’ or ‘naïpes’ was scattered through documentary and literary sources and it is difficult to determine whether this term referred to the ordinary card deck or to another kind of playing card altogether.
The Devil and the Tower were missing from the trumps and six cards were obviously later additions. 62 Interestingly, it was the Visconti-Sforza deck that has been the model for most subsequent decks. 63 It is unimportant that the identity of tarot’s creator cannot be confirmed. The deck, if not invented by Duke Visconti, was certainly crafted for him and the symbolism displayed on the trump cards undoubtedly was devised to be of particular relevance to him. 64 The progenitor of the standard tarot deck was that painted by Michelino da Besozzo depicting gods and birds, described by Marcello in his letter and detailed in Marziano da Tortona’s explanatory treatise.