Tarot started out as a card game.
The ornate hand-painted tarot cards were expensive, so the deck was more than likely played by the aristocracy . Finding their way to Europe in the late 14th century, playing cards seem to be a Chinese invention. Legends that Tarot came from Egypt or that the Gypsies brought them seem to be just that, legends.
Cards of all kinds are used for divination, and Tarot cards lend themselves nicely to that endeavor. How the pictures on the deck developed is another mystery. They’ve been tied to Hebrew mysticism, the Egyptian god Thoth, Masons, and, of course, Satan.
None of the pictures, with the possible exceptions of the Death and Devil cards, are particularly spooky. It’s possible that church sermons about the satanic quality of the cards actually contributed to the occult use.
The deck consists of 22 trump cards called the Major Arcana and 56 suit cards called the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana have always sported colorful images, but the Minor Arcana were simply playing cards with suits and numbers up until the early 1900s when the Rider-Waite deck included pictures on those, too. The Major Arcana are the trump cards, usually concerning life, the universe, and everything. The Minor Arcana, the suit cards, concern the more mundane, everyday issues like job, love, money.
Tarot for Divination
Using the cards for divination seems to have started in the 1500s, dwindled for a time, and was rediscovered late in the 18th century. As with any kind of divination, the accuracy depends on the reader. In my opinion, the cards are simply a tool a talented individual can use as guides. They don’t hold any magic in themselves, but are endowed by the user and the greater Universe. You can use anything for divination from entrails to shooting stars. Cards are neater than entrails and easier to come by than shooting stars; thus, more popular than either.
Want a Tarot Reading?
A reading can cost anywhere from 10 to hundreds of dollars. The exceptionally talented ladies I’ve gone to charged $20-$25 the last time I had a reading. It’s a good idea to go to a session with a question in mind. It can be a general one—“How is the next year going to shape up?” or a more specific one—“How can I get rich soon?” Better to ask a How or Why question than a straight Yes-or-No question since you want a story with lots of suggestions.
BTW–Madam Sorchia does a little card reading–strictly for fun.
In Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, Zoraida learns to read tarot cards under the tutelage of her crazy old granny–but even the cards can’t tell her what to expect when she steps inside fabulous Castle Logan. ZG and the Family Stones is the first book in the series. Start the Adventure! Book 2–Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen, coming soon.