The Interesting History Behind Tarot Card Reading

Every funfair has a mandatory tarot card reading lady, just like in the movies, a little creepy looking, acting mysteriously. It might be all fun and jokes but tarot reading actually has an interesting history behind it.

via – 3.bp.blogspot.com


The word tarot originated from the Italian word tarocchi, the origin of which is unknown. Tarocco, its singular form means ‘blood orange’ in modern Italian. There are two theories regarding the origin. Some believe it has its roots in Milan or Bologna where the Taro River flows. Others believe, it has Arabic roots, ‘turuq’ which means ‘ways’ or ‘taraka’ which means ‘to leave or abandon’.

The History of Tarot Reading

Starting with the name, it was actually called as Trionfi earlier. Tarot cards were initially used as a deck of cards for entertainment purposes during mid 15th century Europe, starting Egypt. Soon after they were used for divination purposes. The first record of which was as early as in 1540.

Court de Gebelin, a French clergyman, observed a group of Egyptian women playing cards, which led him to believe that it was not merely a deck of cards but possibly, of divine significance. He also realized that its origin could be from Egypt.

Jean-Baptiste Alliette (known as Etteilla) and Maire Ann Lenormand were the first to assign divinatory meaning to tarot cards.

Interpretation of the Cards

Different people have given different interpretations.


Tarot de Marseille[22] Court de Gébelin[23][24] Etteilla’s Egyptian Tarot[25] Paul Christian’s Egyptian Tarot
(divinatory meaning in bold)
1 – the Bateleur (Mountebank) Bateleur Ideal/Wisdom the Magus / Will
2 – the Popess High Priestess Enlightenment/Passion Gate of the (occult) Sanctuary / Knowledge
3 – the Empress Empress Discussion/Instability Isis – Urania / Action
4 – the Emperor Emperor Revelation/Behaviour Cubic Stone / Realisation
5 – the Pope Chief Hierophant Travel/Country Property Master of the Mysteries/Arcana / Occult Inspiration
6 – Love or the Lovers Marriage Secrets/Truths Two Roads / Ordeal
7 – the Chariot Osiris Triumphant Support/Protection Chariot of Osiris / Victory
8 – Justice Justice Tenacity/Progress Themis (Scales and Blade) / Equilibrium
9 – the Hermit Wise Man Justice/Law-Maker the Veiled Lamp / Wisdom
10 – Wheel of Fortune Wheel of Fortune Temperance/Convictions the Sphinx / Fortune
11 – Fortitude Fortitude Strength/Power the Muzzled(tamed) Lion / Strength
12 – the Hanged Man Prudence Prudence/Popularity The Sacrifice / Sacrifice
13 – Death Death Marriage/Love Affair The Skeleton Reaper / Transformation
14 – Temperance Temperance Violence/Weakness the Two Urns (the genius of the sun) / Initiative
15 – the Devil Typhon Chagrins/Illness Typhon / Fate
16 – the Tower the Castle or Plutus Opinion/Arbitration the Beheaded Tower (Lightning Struck) / Ruin
17 – the Star Sirius or the Dog Star Death/Incapacity Star of the Magi / Hope
18 – the Moon Moon Betrayal/Falsehood the Twilight / Deception
19 – the Sun Sun Poverty/Prison the Blazing Light / (earthly) Happiness
20 – Judgment the Creation Fortune/Augmentation the Awakening of the Dead / Renewal
21 – the World Time Law Suit/Legal Dispute the Crown of the Magi / Reward
Le Mat (Fool) Fool Madness/Bewilderment 0 the Crocodile (between 20 and 21) / Expiation
via https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e4/Rider-Waite-Smith_deck.png

The cards are to be arranged in a specific way-

via https://www.wikihow.com/Read-Tarot-Cards#/Image:Read-Tarot-Cards-Step-11.jpg

Lots of variations have been found in the cards. The French, the German and the Italians have their own unique versions.

It is believed that the result is guided by a spiritual force, which looks into a person’s subconscious. Tarotology has no scientific evidence. It is considered as a pseudoscience. Hence it should be used only as a source of entertainment and not to take important decisions based on it.

Read also – Shani Shingnapur where the houses don’t have doors



Richa Kasbekar

22 years old, almost a doctor. Foodie at heart. Love to read novels. I spend most of my days lying on the couch but equally eager to go out and have a good time :)

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