Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What IS the Tarot? . . . Part 2

Yet it wasn't until the late 1700s that Tarot cards became strongly connected to fortune telling, psychic powers, or the occult. The writings of Antoine Court de Gebelin in 1781 were hugely influential on the public image of the Tarot deck. An amateur scholar, Gebelin suggested that the pictures on the Tarot deck were related to occult Egyptian hieroglyphics. As mentioned before though, this was pure romantic history being written.

                Tarot divination really gained popularity during the 19th century, spurred on by a growing interest in psychic spiritualism. Everyone was holding séances, Houdini was busy debunking the Mediums, and ghosts and fairies were everywhere. People became very interested in the Tarot, Runes, Pendulums, Ouija Boards, and everything related to metaphysics.

This is about the time that the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck was produced (created in 1909 to be exact). If you are vaguely aware of this deck, you will notice that I called it “Rider-Waite=Smith” instead of simply “Rider-Waite” as it is commonly known. The reason for this is that Pamela Smith is the lady who produced the artwork for this deck, but because of the culture of the times, only the man involved in the project, A.E. Waite, and the publisher, the Rider Card Company, were credited in the name of the deck. This is now often considered the "standard" deck in the English world. It is certainly the one that most people are familiar with, and can be purchased at any major book store or metaphysical shop, or even on Amazon!