Tarot cards first appeared in northern Italy around 1375 around the time the first playing cards were used in Europe.

There is some dispute as to the original use of the cards as many historians believe the Tarot were originally used only as playing cards until the 18Th Century, and in fact, the 56 cards known as the minor arcana, were just like a set of playing cards until 1909.

The minor arcana had some minor differences in that instead of the jack, there was a knight and a page in each suit. The suits are the traditional Italian suits of staves, cups, swords, and coins, rather than the suits we are familiar with, which are the French equivalents of clubs, hearts, spades, and diamonds.

The tarot deck also differs from a regular playing deck in that there are an additional 22 picture cards called the major arcane (or trumps).

These picture cards are a collection of images, some of which were common figures in the medieval world: The Fool and The Magician represent human figures; some are figures of power, The Emperor and The Pope; some cards depicted virtues, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude; and others show the very forces of life in the Wheel of Fortune, the Death card, and The Devil card. There are images that represent the Spiritual forces, such as The Sun, The Moon, and the final Judgment.

The big mystery is why were these tarot trump cards created? Was it merely as a new card game, or was it a deliberate conceived system to portray religious or philosophical beliefs.


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