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Latin Tarot History and Reading | Isaac Grant Tarot

Latin Tarot History and Reading

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History of Latin Tarot

The  history of  reading this Tarot and the story of it’s Latin roots  and reading spreads begins with the first Tarot decks being first conceived between the 1430’s and 1450’s in Italy, namely within the cities of Bologna, Ferrara and Milan. It was primarily a four suit pack which had later cards added to it named trumps. Although it is said that these Tarot decks first entered Europe around the 14th century through the Egyptian city of Mamluk during the 1400’s, evidence of Tarot decks first existence was only found in the 1500’s through pieces of fragmented decks that belonged to the rulers of Milan at the time, the Visconti-Sforza family.

Tarot decks were first painted by professional painters in early times. Names start to surface like that of Michelino da Besozzo, a famous professional painter of that time in history. He is known to have drawn a famous Latin Tarot Card - DeathTarot deck which included a 16 picture deck card with portraits of Greek gods. It was a very famous in Latin Tarot reading at the time, belonging to very powerful families.
It is widely known ever since Tarot cards have been made that they were only available to privileged individuals that belonged to the upper classes of the Italian (Latin) civilization. The Visconti’s family decks are among the most famous of the latins and prove that historical fact, as fragments were recovered from their once precious family Tarot decks. They all have traces of amazing Latin Tarot artwork which depicts scenes of contemporary life, including people, places and popular beliefs of the period.

Artwork of Latin Tarot

Tarot decks for readings were crafted with historical traits of each time. These were knowingly particular in their variety of cultural aspects, following suit with the most renowned styles of the time. The Tarot of Marseille is such renowned standard, being a Tarot with Latin Tarot artwork that was mainly studied by the Court of Gbelin. There are even many Tarot decks whose sole purpose was to be an artwork and with the focus to imprint important cultural aspects.

French suited Tarots also emerged around the 18th hundreds in Germany. These had animal scenes on various trumps called the “Tierarock”. A closer look and one can notice traces of Latin Tarot artwork. But what is Latin Tarot?, one may ask. We may define it as a singular form of painting small cards which depict popular aspects of a culture in any given time. However, unlike many do not know. Their primary purpose was separate from that of the spiritual and the fortune telling. But with time this trend gained rhythm, and Tarot became associated with fortune telling and other related spiritual aspects. Maybe as one started to paint Greek gods and others various gods on such Tarot cards, these started to be divinized.
From the moment that Tarot cards gained a more spiritualistic aspect, occult Tarot decks started to emerge mainly in the 1900’s, being composed of two primary decks, the Major Arcana (which contained greater occult secrets) and the Minor Arcana (which had lesser secrets). Then each country started to have their own primary standard and their own specific mark of Tarot card creation, but never letting go of the foundation Tarot cards.

There are Unique Aspects to Latin Tarot

The main features of  a Latin Tarot reading are its Latin names, various Latin trumps with assorted Greek symbolism and various other symbolic correspondences which depict major beliefs of secret codes, secret societies, secret readings and secret meanings. These are all used in various Latin Tarot spreads which incorporate various Latin Tarot artworks.
In terms of Latin names we have around 22 names overall. These are Apis – fool, Bacatus-Typhon – magician, Caeles-Isis – high priestess, Diana – empress, Eon – emperor, Flamen – high priest, Gaudium – lovers, Hamaxa – chariot, Justitia – justice, Kronos – hermit, Libera – wheel of fortune, Magnitudo – strength, Noxa – hanged man, Orcus – death, Pluvia – temperance, Quirinus – devil, Ruina – tower, Stellae – star, Trina – moon, Victor-Unus – sun, Xiphias – judgement and the zodiacs – universe.

Latin tarot artworkThe above represents the complete Tarot reading deck that was found in history from the Latin Visconti-Sforza family around 1450’s, both unnamed and unnumbered, although it is widely believed that the original reading sets were numbered, since the English word “trump” means to succeed, and therefore relates to a succession of numbers from 1 to 22. So it would be possible to have a deck that was numbered in its original form.

The symbolism in the Tarot deck derives from the language of Mysteries which encompasses Philosophy and Mysticism in its various aspects. It is believed in this current of thought that the invisible powers of the spiritual world are perceived by limited human senses through the forms of symbolism. In this case, Tarot symbolism. This, it is said, is related in the various Latin Tarot spreads in which their alignment could only be the result of intervention from the divine.

Spreads to Use with Latin Tarot Readings

The various Latin Tarot spreads aim to do one thing, and that is, bring the psychic revelation from the divine to enable a reading. These Tarot spreads are organized with meaning, and Tarot readers start off from a simple three card basic spread, from which they unfold their next Tarot readings.

Tarot spreads are dedicated to various purposes in order to provide psychic information regarding anyone’s particular situation in life. It is  these layouts that are the basis of a Latin Tarot reading These are related to specific areas, and the more a specific Tarot spread is used in any given area, that allows Tarot readers to “perceive” that they are learning much more from any given person’s specific life area.

As mentioned, Tarot spreads start off from a basic three card spread and unfold to more complex spreads such as the Celt’s cross. There are as many as 56 possible Latin spreads that can be used by readers. These include career and work, finance, general, spiritual, family, love and relationships, love, and many others. These vary in form and nature, but the overall purpose is to determine through the psychic powers the fortune telling aspect of either seeing the future or the occult mystery about someone. Tarot readers are said to be able to read using just one particular spread, or be more generic according to their main various purposes. A Latin reading will always be a revelation if you are prepared to open your mind to the history and reading interpretation of the  cards. Seek and you will find…Enjoy your latin tarot reading.

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Latin Tarot History and Reading


Isaac Grant is a a highly respected European Tarot Master and Teacher of some 20+ years standing. Isaac currently travels around the EU working as an independent Tarot interpretive consultant with many local, often well known personalities among his clients. Isaac is a profound believer in nurturing young talent and promoting the world of tarot as a whole. This site is the start of a free contribution to help further develop interest in tarot reading more globally.