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Tarot School - Lesson 1
The History of Tarot

This was shown to us when what has become known as the ‘Rider-Waite’ Tarot deck was first printed. It was designed by A.E. Waite and painted by Pamela Coleman-Smith. This was the first pack to have pictures on all of the Tarot cards. Until then cards 1 to 10 of each suit of the Minor Arcana had only that number of each symbol on it. In other words the Tarot card Four of Cups just had four cups on it and so on.

The Rider-Waite pack took the meaning of each Tarot card and gave us a picture we could relate to for each card. For instance the Four of Cups card showed a man sitting, looking bored and uninspired against a tree, with four cups around him. This meant that it was much easier for anyone to ‘read’ the cards as they could see for themselves what the cards were trying to show from the picture.

This made the Tarot accessible and even more popular. Since this Tarot deck was published, almost all packs are now designed the same way, with each person putting their own ideas forward on their decks. Though this has led to some confusion at times, every pack has something to offer and we can always learn more from them and from new ideas.

In the 1960’s book and card publishing really took off and hundreds of different Tarot decks were made. Now there are thousands of Tarot decks available, many with a specific theme. There are Tarot decks for garden gnomes, a James Bond Tarot was produced for the film ‘Live and Let Die’, a Lord of the Rings Tarot - you name it, there’s a Tarot deck for it! The two biggest producers of Tarot packs now are ‘US Games Systems’ and ‘Llewellyn’, both based in America.

With the different pictures on Tarot cards now it is possible to see different meanings in them and this is why you really must make your own mind up about what the Tarot cards mean for you.

In the next lesson we will explore some of these interpretations and the different approaches to the Tarot and its cards. We will also explore the structure of the Tarot in more detail giving you the knowledge you need before we go on to use the cards.

Lesson 2: Choosing a Tarot Deck

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