The term ‘tarot cards’ today is commonly understood by English-speaking people to mean the specialized deck used for divination purposes. Tarot card study circles around the philosophy that the spread of the cards and the order in which they are viewed can lend insight into the current situations of the subject of the reading. Future paths can be understood by knowing and understanding the present. Different tarot card practitioners believe the power of the cards comes from different sources. Gaia, or other spiritual forces, is the power behind tarot cards, according to some believers, while other followers believe the cards help to tap into the collective subconscious.
Some Typical Tarot Card Deck Styles
As the symbolic and mystic meanings of tarot cards changed over the centuries since the mid 18th century, so have the illustrations and style of the cards. Today, some users of tarot cards depend upon a deck that is heavy with Egyptian symbols. Antoine Court de Gébelin wrote a treatise in 1781 that tied Gypsies, who first used a tarot card deck for divination, to the ancient Egyptian book of Thoth and the power of Isis. Other, more fanciful styles include decks with comic book and Disney characters
Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Cards
This tarot card deck is the most popular in use in the English-speaking world today. The images on the deck were created by Pamela Colman Smith in 1909, according to the instructions of mystic A.E. Waite. They were published by the Rider Company. The images are simple, yet hold a multitude of symbols. This tarot card deck moves away from the Christian symbolism of the Pope and Popess cards to become the Hierophant and High Priestess, respectively. The Smith designs are faulted only in the crudeness of the color printing. Later clones of the Rider tarot cards improved the color quality.
Thoth Deck Tarot Cards
The Thoth divinatory tarot card deck was painted by artist Lady Frieda Harris with coaching by Aleister Crowley, notorious English occultist. Crowley wrote several works about the occult, most notable of which is the Book of Law. The Thoth tarot card deck was intended to accompany Crowley’s Book of Thoth. Crowley’s tarot cards took nearly five years and were not published until after his death. The initial publication was in 1969, with a revised version in 1977. The 1986 version is the one most used today. The deck displays a wealth of symbolism, drawn from many different spiritual and philosophic systems.
Purpose of Tarot Card Decks
Tarot cards have been described in various ways and are used by practitioners for different purposes. Some of the suggested applications for tarot cards include spiritual, emotional and physical healing, assistance in making wise decisions, and guidance in understanding of mystical concepts and principles. Those who use a tarot card deck may be manipulating the cards as a mnemonic device to learn the principles of the Qabalah. Probably most practitioners who provide readings for others are simply looking for a way to focus their understanding of the universe in order to answer specific questions.