A Brief History Of Tarot
There are many theories about the origin of Tarot, some more mysterious, obscure and fascinating than others! However; the most likely origin of Tarot is situated in Europe, particularly Italy during the 15th century, though back then it was known as “trionfi” or “tarocchi” and it was intended as a game.
The first records of a Tarot deck date back to the late 14th century, but the oldest surviving deck is the well known Visconti-Sforza Tarot which has been reproduced countless times from the surviving cards. Tarot Minchiate is also a Tarot deck that has survived the test of time and dates from the same period, though it’s system is slightly different than the traditional it has been quite successful in reproduction.
It wasn’t until the 18th century that Tarot decks began to be commercialized and used for divinatory purposes, starting a tradition that would last into modern days. According to records the first one to produce a deck specifically for divination was the famous French cartomancer Etteilla who also contributed to the world of the occult with other works.
There are three main Tarot currents that have different traditions but a common purpose; Tarot of Marseille, Rider Waite Smith Tarot and the Thoth Tarot.
It is believed that the original Tarot of Marseille came originally from Italy, but became way more popular in the south of France. It possess the traditional structure of a Tarot deck – 78 cards divided in 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana that are subsequently divided into 4 suits – being its distinctive characteristic that the Major Arcana are fully illustrated while the Minor Arcana resemble a deck of playing cards.
The Marseilles tradition is better known amongst cartomancers, for the reading style differs from other traditions and this one is definitely heavily oriented towards prediction and fortune telling.
Rider Waite Smith, also known as RWS Tarot is probably the most widely known Tarot decks of all times and the inspiration for most of the decks that are currently in the market. Illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith following the instructions of Arthur Waite and was published in 1909. This deck is composed of 78 cards and each card is fully illustrated.
Created by Aleister Crowley, Thoth Tarot is a beast of its own and is perceived as its own speciality in the Tarot world. The deck varies its structure slightly, counting on 80 cards due to the reason that this deck includes three version of the first trump, The Magician.
Currently, there is an endless number of Tarot decks available on the market and it has become way more popular and accessible as well as many myths surrounding the practice have been busted, making this tool for discovery widely available.
A Brief History Of Oracles
Defining an oracle is much more imprecise than defining Tarot for the simple reason that by definition, an oracle is an agency considered to provide counsel, insight, prophecy or precognition and is inspired or somehow connected to the divine.
Oracles have been present throughout history in every place and every culture, being particularly popular in Ancient Greece, where it was customary to visit the Oracle women or Pythias to seek the advice and guidance from the Gods.
Nowadays, when we think of an oracle, we are probably thinking about a deck of cards similar to a deck of Tarot cards though probably bigger! Unlike Tarot, Oracle decks do not need to adjust to a traditional system and can be composed of as many cards as the author considers. This is a fantastic way to let creativity flow freely, for the author will not be subjected to the systematic nature of Tarot, and brings the opportunity to create truly inspired and connected pieces.
There are a great number of Oracle decks available from different traditions, backgrounds, purposes and styles, making oracle reading an option that is readily available!