The Tarot card deck is one of the most widely used divination tools in the world nowadays.
Tarot decks were invented in Italy in the 1430s by adding a fifth suit of 21 specially illustrated cards called trionfi ("triumphs") and an odd card called il matto ("the fool") to the existing four-suited pack.
The Visconti-Sforza deck, the oldest surviving set, was made for the Duke of Milan's family in 1440. The cards were used to play tarocchi, a bridge-like game common among nobility and other leisure seekers at the period. The whimsical imagery on the cards—from the Fool to Death—were inspired by the costumed figures who participated in carnival parades, according to tarot historian Gertrude Moakley.
Tarocchi eventually spread to other European countries, especially southern France, where it became known as tarot. Until the late 18th century, when the occult became popular, the cards were not thought to be mystical. A popular book by Antoine Court de Gébelin linked the cards to ancient Egyptian mythology, claiming that tarot symbols represented the secret wisdom of a divinity named Thoth. At about the same period, Jean-Baptiste Alliette authored a treatise on employing tarot cards as divination tools under the alias Etteilla.
As occult curiosity in the Tarot grew, it became more associated with Kabbalah and hermetic mysticism. Occultism and spiritualism had become popular hobbies for bored upper-class families by the end of the Victorian era. It wasn't unusual to arrive at a house party and discover a séance in progress or someone reading Tarot cards or tea leaves in the corner.
During the early 1900s, mystic groups such as the Theosophical Society and the Rosicrucians popularised tarot. Many American tarot readers use the Waite-Smith deck, which was created in 1909 by A.E. Waite, a British member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and the artist Pamela Colman Smith. The Book of Thoth, another famous deck, was created by magician-guru Aleister Crowley. Both have become must-have items for modern fortune tellers.
Tarot cards are now available in an almost limitless variety of designs. In general, many of these follow the Rider-Waite format and style, though each adapts the cards to suit their own theme. Tarot is no longer just for the wealthy and upper class; anyone who takes the time to learn it can do so.
Are Tarot cards different from Oracle cards and which one is best to use?
Tarot cards are traditionally structured decks at the highest level. When it comes to Tarot, there are a few more rules than when it comes to Oracle cards. Oracle cards are extremely flexible, and they can include almost any type of content. There are typically 78 cards in a deck of Tarot cards. Some decks like to stand out and be unique. You could end up with 80 or 44 cards, but for the most part, you'll have 78. In the case of Oracle cards, however, there is no set number of cards. A deck can contain 12 cards, 100 cards, or anything in between.
Tarot cards have a classic deck structure and familiar interpretations. The majority of decks are Rider-Waite derivatives, and they all share common themes. The images and illustrations may be entirely different, but the messaging behind the card is frequently very similar. So, in the case of Tarot cards, there is a common theme that runs through most of the cards, whereas Oracle cards do not have a recurring theme.
Oracle cards have a lot of energy in them. They provide an overview of what is going on, but Tarot cards can offer more comprehensive interpretations.
I found a very interesting way of using Tarot and Oracle cards. Here it is:
1. Draw an Oracle card at the start of a reading to understand the overall topic. Be mindful of what kind of energy surrounds you. Then, perform a Tarot reading with multiple cards to get a complete picture. Also, look for the Oracle card's theme in the Tarot reading – the Tarot cards often explain what's going on in greater detail.
2. At the end of a Tarot reading, draw another Oracle card to help you understand the underlying theme or to extract advice and guidance, or a parting message. It will bring an insightful closure to the Tarot reading.
Explore here some of my favourite Tarot and Oracle decks that we brought in our online shop, hope you will like them. Many more to come soon so stay tuned!