There are many different tales about the origins of Tarot cards ranging from: Gypsies bringing the cards from Egypt in the early middle ages; the Knights Templar, in the times of the Crusades; to a group of sages coming from Fez, Morocco who are said to have created Tarot to replicate the mystical wisdom destroyed at the great Library at Alexandria. Most authorities agree that Tarot cards first started being used for divination purposes in the late 18th Century and since then they have had a fascinating history of use. Here are some interesting Tarot trivia facts.
The first public show of divination using Tarot cards, now thought to have been done with the influence of ‘magic’, was by Jean-Baptiste Alliette in 1785 in France. He wrote a pamphlet which still closely resembles the interpretations we use today.
In 1781, although Alliette had started the public trend of using Tarot, Antoine Court deGebelin, a Swiss clergyman had published a book called Le Monde Primitif stating that Tarot cards were related to occult history and magic, and concluded (probably incorrectly) that they were related to the mythology of ancient Egypt.
In 1842 Napoleon used Tarot consultations with Mademoiselle Lenormand to make important decisions.
Tarot cards were never actually the ‘cards of the devil’ - normal playing cards were given that name by the church because they were used by congregations for gambling.
Until the early 1900’s only the major arcana and court cards were illustrated. The numbered cards just showed the number of pips for each suit. Arthur Waite, a Christian mystic and scholar of the occult, who belonged to The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, designed (along with artist Pamela Coleman-Smith) and published the first Tarot deck in which every card in the pack was illustrated. This deck is known as the Rider-Waite pack (Rider were the publishers) and is the most widely known today.
Tarot cards were used in many wars throughout the ages to send private coded messages.
Jane Seymour plays Tarot reader, Solitaire, in James Bond’s Live and Let Die. The cards used in the film were designed by Fergus Hall. He did not have time to finish the whole pack before the film was finished but they were released for sale with a 007 logo on the back of each card in a special James Bond box.