a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.


alt.magick TAROt REFerence file

Newsgroups: alt.magick,alt.magick.tyagi,alt.tarot,alt.divination,alt.answers,news.answers
Subject: alt.magick TAROt REFerence file
Followup-To: alt.magick
Summary: This is a REFerence file for the alt.magick newsgroup.  As such
	 it constitutes an attendant file to the alt.magick FAQ, which is
         intended as an introductory file and its content may be discussed
         within the alt.magick.* contellation.  The FAQ is available at:
Keywords: tarot cards divination fortune-telling trumps history
Supercedes: 9510
From: (tyaginator)
Reply-to: (tyaginator)

Archive-name: magick/taroref
Version: 9511
Posting-Frequency: every few months or per inquiry 

From: (Mark Danburg)
To: alt.magick
Subject: tarot.faq version 1.1
Date: 16 Sep 1994 17:26:06 -0500

		Frequently Asked Questions about the Tarot
		Version 1.1 -- August 1994

		Written by Mark Danburg-Wyld
		First release: 22 October 1993
		Posted irregularly to alt.divination,alt.magick,

		Send comments, suggestions, additions, etc. to:

		All rites reversed.  This entire document, or properly
		attributed portions thereof, may be freely distributed
		by any medium whatsoever.  Peace to all who read this.

1. What is a tarot deck?
2. Where can I get one?
3. How do current decks differ?
4. How do I use a Tarot deck to 'tell the future'?
5. How do I use a Tarot deck for meditation?
6. How do I use a Tarot deck to play a game?
7. What is the history of the Tarot?
8. Is the Tarot related to Kabalah?
9. How is the Tarot related to other forms of divination?
10. What books might I read if I wanted to learn more about Tarot?

1.  What is a tarot deck?

	The Tarot was originally a deck of 78 cards, divided into 4 suits
of 14 cards (the standard ace-10, then page, knight, queen, and king) and
22 un-numbered 'triumphs' or 'trumps'.  Over the years, the trumps got 
numbered 1 to 21, with one card (the fool) remaining un-numbered or sometimes 
being 0.  The 4 suits are commonly called the 'Minor Arcana' and the trump 
cards are called the 'Major Arcana'.  More loosely, any deck of cards designed
for 'fotune-telling', divination, meditation, contemplation, or other non-game
uses is popularly called a Tarot deck.

	The most commonly found suits for Tarot decks are cups, swords,
wands or staffs (probably originally polo-sticks), and pentacles (originally
coins).  The names of the Major Arcana cards frequently change from deck to
deck, but historically they've been The Fool (un-numbered or 0), The Magician
(I), The High Priestess (originally the Popess) (II), The Empress (III), The
Emperor (IV), The Heirophant (originally the Pope) (V), The Lovers (VI), The
Chariot (VII), Strength (VIII, originally XI), The Hermit (IX), The Wheel of
Fortune (X), Justice (XI, originally VIII), The Hanged Man (XII), Death (XIII),
Temperance (XIV), The Devil (XV), The Tower (XVI), The Star (XVII), The Moon
(XVIII), The Sun (XIX), Judgement (XX), and The World (XXI).  The Major Arcana
cards are usually illustrated, frequently the Minor Arcana cards are, as well.

2.  Where can I get one?

	Most 'new age' or occult bookstores carry a variety of Tarot decks.  
So do many 'mainstream' bookstores.  So do many 'new age' catalogs.  So does
U.S. Games Systems and a few other card dealers.  For a secret source of wisdom
from the distant past, it's pretty widely available.

3. How do current decks differ?

	Mostly in artistic style.  Tarot decks come in a bewildering variety 
these days.  You can find oversized, undersized, or round decks.  Some have 
more than 78 cards, some less.  Some are based on a particular mythic cycle.
Some are based on a particular psychological theory.  Some are based on
channeled information.  Some are just hard to describe.  

	A 'historical' deck has simply one, two, or however many wands, cups, 
or whatever for the number cards.  

	A.E. Waite first popularized a deck which has illustrations on all 
78 cards (painted by Pamela Colman Smith), which has become the model for 
the greatest number of other currently available decks.

	A. Crowley popularized a deck which had arcane symbols, but not real
'illustrations' on the number cards (painter by Lady Frieda Harris).  Decks 
which follow those basic setups are decendants from these earlier ones.

	For the beginner, it is probably best to choose a deck which is
stylistically appealing over any other consideration.  But it is also
probably best to pick a 'standard' deck (78 cards, etc.), if only so that
if you later choose to study of other people's writings won't seem hopelessly 

4. How do I use a Tarot deck to 'tell the future'?

	Study the cards and learn their meanings.  Practice a lot, on
yourself, friends, or total strangers as suits your personal leanings.
Eventually, you should get pretty good.

	Some people prefer to learn the cards intuitively, by studying
the illustrations, meditating on them, and carefully recording their reactions 
to them.  Most people just read the little booklet that inevitably comes with 
the deck.  For people who prefer a more detailed learning process, I recommend 
starting with Butler's _Dictionary of the Tarot_, which contains a summary of 
the interpretation each card has gotten from some of the major historical
figures associated with the Tarot.

	The most common 'spread' for Tarot readings is called the 'Celtic
Cross'.  It's probably described in the booklet that came with your deck,
but just for completeness, it looks like:

		4.		10.
	5.	1&2.	6.	 9.
		3.		 8.

1. Represents where the querent is at the time of the reading.
2. Lies across 1. and represents what holds the querent where they are.
3. Represents the 'base of the question' - why it is being asked.
4. Represents how the querent has been thinking about the question.
5. Represents the 'recent past' (usually considered as 1-3 months)
6. Represents the 'near future' (ditto)
7. Represents what the querent has to bring to the situation.
8. Represents what the situation has to offer the querent.
9. Represents the querent's innermost hopes and/or fears.
10. Represents the final outcome of the situation, unless deliberately changed.

	And again, practice, practice, practice.

5. How do I use a Tarot deck for meditation?

	One simple technique is to select a card and use it as a miniature
mandala.  Or put out an array of cards and do the same.  Some people pick
a card in the morning and use it as a 'focus point' for the day - looking
for aspects of that cards meaning in the events that occur to them.  Some
people have created 'guided meditations' that take you through the entire 
Major Arcana.

6.  How do I use a Tarot deck to play a game?

	There are actually many different games involving Tarot cards.  Here
is a simple one.  Taking a standard deck and four players, deal everyone 18 
cards.  Starting with the person to the dealers right, cards are played in 
tricks.  The winner of each trick begins the next round.  You must follow suit
if possible, high card takes the trick, trumps beat suit cards, high trump wins
if more than one gets played.  You can start with a trump.  The number cards 
and most of the Trumps are worth 1/2 point, the pages 1 1/2, the knights 2 1/2,
the queens 3 1/2, and the Kings and the Fool and the Magician and the World 
4 1/2.  Numerous variations exist, including games that involve bidding, etc. 
See Micheal Dummett's book _The Game of Tarot_.

7. What is the history of the Tarot?

	No-one knows the 'true' origin of the Tarot.  The most common myth
is that it was brought to Europe by the Gypsies - but this myth come from
the fact that very early occultists who used the Tarot fancied that it came
from Egypt.  They were as wrong about that as they were about the homeland
of the Gypsies.
	In fact, the Tarot came to Europe about the same time as any other
form of playing card, in the early/mid 1300's.  It is most closely related
to the 'Mamluk' deck of the Islamic world, which had suits cups, coins, swords,
and polo-sticks.  
	The Tarot was originally used for a game called 'tarocchi' in Italy,
which is sort of a distant cousin to Bridge.  Tarocchi is still played in some
parts of the world, not usually with the same decks the 'fortune tellers' use.
The game was quite popular for a time among the royalty in Italy, and sometimes
a duke would commision an artist to create a really nice deck.  Some of the
earliest surviving Tarot decks come from this source.  Plainer decks 
existed, but were not well made enough, or well thought-of enough,
to survive the intervening 600 years.
	The Joker of 'standard' card decks is _not_ related to the Fool of
Tarot.  The Joker was invented as a wild card for Euchre in the 1800's, in
a part of the world where the Tarot was virtually or totally unknown.
	The Tarot was first associated with the occult by Antoine Court de
Gebelin, a relatively obscure Parisian mason who wrote about the deck in 
1781.  He invented a lot of the standard myths about the Tarot which were
later popularized by others (it comes from ancient Egypt, the Major Arcana is
related to the Kabalah, etc.).  The first big popularizer of the deck was
a contemporary of de Gebelin, called Etteilla, who published the first
'revised and corrected' Tarot deck for divination.  The fad was caught up
by Eliphas Levi, Oswald Wirth, and Papus, among others.  From Papus, the Tarot
caught on with some English mystics, such as S.L. Mathers (whose mistranslation
of Levi brought us the suit of pentacles), A.E. Waite, and A. Crowley.  The 
Tarot received a lot of attention from these folks, and they created a fairly
large body of writing on the use of Tarot.  For the most part they thought that
divination was a 'lower' use of the cards, that ideally it should be used to
put you in touch with eternal verities, usually in conjunction with whatever
magickal order they happened to be involoved with.  But of course, divination
was the most popular use for the cards.
	Most of the Tarot decks on the market were created this century, most 
of those in the last 20 years.

8. Is the Tarot related to Kabalah?

	de Gebelin fancied that, since there were 22 Major Arcana cards and
22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, the two must be related.  Most of the people
who followed him went with this assumption.  There's been considerable 
disagreement as to how exactly this should work (which letter with which card),
and if you're interested in using this connection, you should probably just
go with whatever correspondance the creator of your deck settled on.

9. How is the Tarot related to other forms of divination?

	Basically, it ain't.  Historically, at least.  But many people who 
have some skill in one of these other arts have sometimes tried to find 
correspondences between them and the Tarot.  Of the people I've talked to who 
are skilled in runes/astrology/i ching/etc., most of them wish the people who 
made such decks wouldn't bother.  But, some people like them.  If you're 
already familiar with one of these other systems of divination and wish to
study the Tarot as well, it may be a worthwhile 'shortcut' to pick one of 
these decks.  For a novice, it is probably more confusing than illuminating.

10. What books might I read if I wanted to learn more about Tarot?

	Below is a subjective, and massively incomplete, list of some of the
books about Tarot currently on the market.

	_Common_Sense_Tarot_ by Camden Benares - includes a nice section on
how to go into business reading cards.

	_Dictionary_of_the_Tarot_ by Bill Butler - lists the meanings of each
card given by a number of other authors and includes his own.

	_Tarot:_A_Handbook_for_the_* by Eileen Connolly - rather popular.

	_Book_of_Thoth_ by Aleister Crowley - learn about Tarot from the 
Beast himself.

	_Complete_Guide_to_the_Tarot_ by Eden Gray - basically follows earlier

	_Tarot_for_Your_Self_,_Tarot_Constellations_,_Tarot_Mirrors_ by Mary
Greer - another popular series.

	_Encyclopedia_of_Tarot_ by Stuart Kaplan - a three volume series which
has the drawback of being somewhat expensive but the advantage of being very
nearly complete.

	_The Game of Tarot_ by Michael Dummett - a thoroughly anti-occultist 
book, but very good history section.

	_Pictorial Key to the Tarot_ by A.E. Waite - get back to the roots
of the Tarot with this one.  Not really a 'fun' read.


This document is Copyright (c) 1995, authors cited.

All rights reserved.  Permission to distribute the collection is
hereby granted providing that distribution is electronic, no money
is involved, reasonable attempts are made to use the latest version
and all credits and this copyright notice are maintained.

Other requests for distribution should be directed to the individual
authors of the particular articles.

nagasiva, tyagi
tyagI@houseofkaos.Abyss.coM (I@AM)

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy and sacred geometry
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century occultist
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races