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Can You Tell Me if Tarot Cards are Dangerous

James Can You Tell Me if Tarot Cards are Dangerous

James asks…

Are Tarot cards dangerous? Are they disrespectful to Christianity?

IG2 cropped Can You Tell Me if Tarot Cards are Dangerous

Isaac Grant answers:

Well, let’s look at what tarot cards are and where they came from first. Playing cards arrived in Europe via the Islamic world in the mid 14th century. These early cards, known as the Malmuk cards had the same structure as our regular playing cards today, that is, four regular suits, each with 10 pip cards and three court cards. The original suit signs were cups, coins, swords, and polo sticks. Polo was an unknown game in Europe at the time, so these became batons. These suits are now known as the Latin suits and all Europe used them – though they are now only used by Latin countries. The court cards were a King, a Rider, and a Footman. All male court cards are still used in Latin suits, as well as the German and Swiss packs.

The Queen makes her first appearance in a Milanese pack that features six courts in each suit, a male and a female of each rank. Two of the extra courts were dropped and for a time the 56 card pack was standard in the region. It was to this pack that an extra suit of picture cards was added in the mid 15th century. They were commissioned by Duke Filipo Visconti as part of the celebrations for his daughter, Bianca Visconti’s marraige into the Sforza family. They took as their theme a traditional Christian triumph procession. Hence they were called trionfi, meaning triumphs, and from which we get our word trump – it was the invention of tarot that marked the invention of trumps in card games!

The game of tarot quickly spread and diversified and was at one time the most popular form of card game throughout continental Europe!

In the early 18th century, German playing card makers began to produce French suited packs with new trumps featuring arbitrary trump designs. The French suits were much cheaper to produce, requiring only stencils rather than carved wood block and the new trumps allowed card makers to show off their skills in a time of great competition. These cards are now used for most of the games, with France being the last to adopt them in the early 20th century.

Toward the end of the 18th century, occultist and resident of Paris, Antoine Court de Gabelin wrote an article on tarot cards for his Encyclopaedia, The Primitive World. He declared that the cards were the codified wisdom of ancient Egyptian priests, essentially a series of hieroglyphs that were much in vogue at the time. He offered no evidence for his theory but it became a popular myth. For about a century, the occult tarot and divination with the cards was only known in France, it was not until members of the Golden Dawn, who based much of their occult beliefs on the cards, began to import them, publish translations of the French texts, and redesign them specifically for occult practice, that the myth reached the English speaking world.

Today, English speakers continue to know the cards for their occult myths and, of course, the fortune telling. However, Europe continues to play an impressive range of card games with them. France, Austria, and Hungary maintain particularly strong tarot game tradition as does Bologna in Italy, where they play a particular good form of the game called Ottocento.

The games are largely what we call point-trick games. That means that like whist, bridge, and spades, players win cards in tricks. Unlike those games, different cards carry different point values, so that it is not the number of tricks you take that wins the game but the number of card points you win in them.

Tarot has no occult origin, the church never took offence at the cards because they were recognised as Christian. Looked at with modern eyes some of the old designs look mysterious, even heretical – but examined in context of when they were created we get a different picture. For example, the Female Pope raises a lot of questions and yet in the 15th century she was a common figure in Christian art, symbolising things like the New Covenent and the virtue of Faith. The Hanged Man also has received attention, suspended by one foot! Yet it Italy, this card was called The Traitor – and that’s how they killed traitors, hung by one foot and left to die slowly and publically. No mystery at all – just a very good family of card games!

John Can You Tell Me if Tarot Cards are Dangerous

John asks…

Are Tarot readings a game or for real?

IG2 cropped Can You Tell Me if Tarot Cards are Dangerous

Isaac Grant answers:

Well, let’s look at what tarot cards are and where they came from first. Playing cards arrived in Europe via the Islamic world in the mid 14th century. These early cards, known as the Malmuk cards had the same structure as our regular playing cards today, that is, four regular suits, each with 10 pip cards and three court cards. The original suit signs were cups, coins, swords, and polo sticks. Polo was an unknown game in Europe at the time, so these became batons. These suits are now known as the Latin suits and all Europe used them – though they are now only used by Latin countries. The court cards were a King, a Rider, and a Footman. All male court cards are still used in Latin suits, as well as the German and Swiss packs.

The Queen makes her first appearance in a Milanese pack that features six courts in each suit, a male and a female of each rank. Two of the extra courts were dropped and for a time the 56 card pack was standard in the region. It was to this pack that an extra suit of picture cards was added in the mid 15th century. They were commissioned by Duke Filipo Visconti as part of the celebrations for his daughter, Bianca Visconti’s marraige into the Sforza family. They took as their theme a traditional Christian triumph procession. Hence they were called trionfi, meaning triumphs, and from which we get our word trump – it was the invention of tarot that marked the invention of trumps in card games! The game later took the name Tarocchi, from the old Italian Tarocus, meaning to play the fool. This name became Tarock in other countries with only France dropping the gutteral at the end to make Tarot.

The game of tarot quickly spread and diversified and was at one time the most popular form of card game throughout continental Europe!

In the early 18th century, German playing card makers began to produce French suited packs with new trumps featuring arbitrary trump designs. The French suits were much cheaper to produce, requiring only stencils rather than carved wood block and the new trumps allowed card makers to show off their skills in a time of great competition. These cards are now used for most of the games, with France being the last to adopt them in the early 20th century.

Toward the end of the 18th century, occultist and resident of Paris, Antoine Court de Gabelin wrote an article on tarot cards for his Encyclopaedia, The Primitive World. He declared that the cards were the codified wisdom of ancient Egyptian priests, essentially a series of hieroglyphs that were much in vogue at the time. He offered no evidence for his theory but it became a popular myth. For about a century, the occult tarot and divination with the cards was only known in France, it was not until members of the Golden Dawn, who based much of their occult beliefs on the cards, began to import them, publish translations of the French texts, and redesign them specifically for occult practice, that the myth reached the English speaking world.

Today, English speakers continue to know the cards for their occult myths and, of course, the fortune telling. However, Europe continues to play an impressive range of card games with them. France, Austria, and Hungary maintain particularly strong tarot game tradition as does Bologna in Italy, where they play a particular good form of the game called Ottocento.

The games are largely what we call point-trick games. That means that like whist, bridge, and spades, players win cards in tricks. Unlike those games, different cards carry different point values, so that it is not the number of tricks you take that wins the game but the number of card points you win in them.

Tarot has no occult origin, the church never took offence at the cards because they were recognised as Christian. Looked at with modern eyes some of the old designs look mysterious, even heretical – but examined in context of when they were created we get a different picture. For example, the Female Pope raises a lot of questions and yet in the 15th century she was a common figure in Christian art, symbolising things like the New Covenent and the virtue of Faith. The Hanged Man also has received attention, suspended by one foot! Yet it Italy, this card was called The Traitor – and that’s how they killed traitors, hung by one foot and left to die slowly and publically. No mystery at all.

It is just a pack of playing cards and no more knows your destiny than a tea leaf knows the history of the East India Company. To be able to know the future, not only would there have to be reverse causation – the future causing the past – something logicians are constantly saying is impossible (many of the same objections to time travel apply to future knowledge) but there would have to be some reverse causal chain going back to a pack of playing cards. It doesn’t look good when you think about it.

However, I do believe that tarot is the best family of card games in the world.

 

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