Author Topic: Tarot Decks and Playing Card Decks?  (Read 9 times)


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Tarot Decks and Playing Card Decks?
« on: October 30, 2021, 04:01:43 pm »
What is the relationship between the two?

One of the issues is which came first, tarot cards or playing cards.  They clearly are related.  Remember the first time you ever saw playing cards, there is clearly some history and tradition to them.  And then they usually give you two jokers, and these seem like the tarot fool.

18th and 19th century occultists took the view that tarot cards came first, and then the tarot deck was cut down to make playing cards.  And along with this was the idea that it was all coming from ancient Egypt.

So I guess this Antoine Court de Gébelin, 18th century, decided to associate the 22 trumps with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.  And then either he or Eliphas Levi decided that these 22 trumps should be put on the pathways of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.

And they were saying that the Tarot was the Book of Thoth.

And then with the minor arcana, they were interpreting the 4 suits as representing the 4 worlds on the tree of life.  And then the ten numbered cards corresponded to the 10 sephiroth.

One of the most enigmatic differences between playing cards and tarot cards is that while playing cards have 3 court cards per suit, tarot cards have 4.  Why?  Is this also related to the 4 worlds on the tree of life?

They say Kabbalah comes from the Book of Ezekiel.  There everything revolves around the number 4.  That is everything except for the very end mention of the number of fish species.

But Kabbalah seems to primarily require the number 10, so it must be coming from Exodus, and really the entire Bible revolves around Exodus.

One of the most adamant defenders of the idea that playing cards were made by cutting down tarot decks, was Paul Foster Case.

Decades ago I talked at a little shop to one professional fortune teller.  She used playing cards, and she charged extra if you wanted her to use tarot cards.

Today many are challenging this idea that it all came from ancient Egypt, and that playing cards were derived by cutting down a tarot deck.

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The very idea of having a deck of cards, as opposed to a book of pictures, is that you can handle the cards face down without revealing their identity.  So the cards have to be made by a printer, so that the back sides will be identical.

White hunted down the oldest printing companies in Europe and they insist that playing cards came first, and they came from the Near East.

And these cards were used for divination and fortune telling.  The fact that they are also sometimes used to gamble for money, makes them all the more compelling when used for divination and fortune telling.

So it was later that playing card decks were expanded to make tarot decks.

I look in the Spanish language newspaper and they have picture ads for these fortune tellers.  They use tarot cards, and they use them for real basic gut level stuff, like sickness and health, love, and money.

So why did they add the forth court card, and were they really thinking that all of this would be interpreted through the kabbalistic tree of life diagram?

The Ace of Spades is commonly known as the Death Card.  I don't think this comes from interpreting the minor arcana on the Kabalistic Tree of Life.

Well, we don't really know where any of this comes from really, kabbalah either.  We don't know how any of it relates to Hermeticism, or to Kabbalah, or how any of these relate to ancient Egypt.

I have never seen anything in print to support this, but I feel that the tarot major trumps could have come from the Egyption Book of the Dead.  I was moved by a particularly inspired translation of the Papyrus of Ani, made by Normandi Ellis.  She calls one section "21 Women".

There the petitioner must move through the Great Hall of Osiris.  And this is rather like the Tibetan Bardo.  He must get past 21 pylons, and each is guarded by a fearsome female.  I feel that these, along with the petitioner, could be the source for the 22 major arcana.

But who really knows.

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