Everyone wonders what the future holds for them, and many people are fascinated with the occult. For those who wonder where these beliefs come from, here is a brief background to one of the most popular psychic beliefs that are currently held: Tarot readings.
“The Tarot” refers to a deck of cards with a very old and varied history. It is believed they first made their appearance more than 500 years ago. But that is not really the beginning. The symbols on these cards have an even older history.
Games have been historically traced back to the earliest times. Dating back to 3000BC complete sets of games were found in Ur, and parts of games have been found in the Sahara and in Egypt.
From 2000BC right up to the middle ages, all kind of “board” games were known in Europe, Asia, and Africa. It seems, though, that cards were only played from the middle ages onwards, but then they very quickly became extremely popular.
The earliest Tarot packs were made for games played in Italy, spreading throughout Europe. The game was known diversely as trionfi, tarocchi, tarock, triumphs, and trumps. Some elements of both the deck and the names spread to other games, such as “trumps” in today’s bridge, and the suites and the picture cards in most of today’s modern playing card decks.
As Tarot cards began to become part of mysticism and foretelling of the future, the elements of ancient mythology began to emerge more prominently.
Many students of the occult trace the ethos of the tarot beliefs, if not the cards themselves, back to the mysteries of the Hermetic Kabbalah and to the ancient Egyptians.
It is believed that tarot mysticism is based on the ancient Book of Thoth. There are also elements of Greek mythology, particularly Hermes.
Thoth had the body of a man and the head of a bird. He was considered to represent the heart (mind, intelligence) of and spokesperson-god for, Ra, the chief of the ancient Egyptian gods.
Hermes was the messenger of the gods in Olympus and the guide to the underworld. He is symbolised in mythology as a limbless pillar with the head of a man.
However, another Hermes, Hermes Trismegistus who was considered to be a wise pagan prophet was believed to be a combination or representative of both gods – the Greek Hermes and the Egyptian Thoth. It was many of his beliefs that were carried down into the early mystical tarot readings.
This combination-god was worshipped by the ancient Greeks in Hermopolis, and by the ancient Egyptians at the Temple of Thoth in Khemnu.
Their beliefs, together with tarot readings were adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the late 19th century. This spiritual development organisation was the inspiration to much of modern Wicca and Thelema beliefs.
It is understood that the founders of this order were trying to start a more open organisation that would allow the membership of women. It was based on the initiation and hierarchy of the Free Masons.
Traditionally a tarot deck consists of 78 cards, 22 of which are called “major arcana” and the other 56 “minor arcana”. They are full of esoteric symbolism.
The cards are shuffled and mixed so that half are face downwards. When a card is drawn face downward it usually means that the opposite of its normal meaning may be implied.
In some of the most modern variations of tarot cards, modern TV heroes, sporting symbols, Disney characters and superheroes sometimes appear. However, they thinly disguise the much older and more traditional figures in whose places they stand. Generally the old meanings remain the same.