Guest Author - Karen Artino
Forgive me as I forgot to put on my last article of the history of the tarot was part one. Here is part 2 of that article. Since there is so much information on the origin and history I am breaking it up into parts to not overwhelm you and to get all the information in.
As I started this topic, I realized that there is so many contradictions as to the original origin and also found out that no-one really knows the original origin, it is all theories. So; I have put it all together.
Before 1370 The oldest French reference
1337 Abbaye of St. Victor of Marseilles These cards were painted and
the cards were trimmed in gold.
1340 Oldest cards in Bohemia
1367 Banned in Berne, Switzerland
1370 to 1420 1375 Cards were introduced to Europe by Islamic invaders from North
Africa, Spain, and Sicily by Islamic forces during the Mamluk
Sultanate of Egypt which did not end until 1517.
1377 Oldest cards in Germany
1377 Florence, Italy cards were to be treated just as strictly as
1377 Paris, France prohibiting card playing directed at the working
Class for gambling.
1392 Jacquemin Gringonneur was commissioned to paint a deck of
cards for Charles VI of France.
1421 to 1440 Tarot first appears in Northern Italy
1422 Italian artist (Bonifacio Bembo) painted the deck
Visconti-Sforza Tarocchi deck after the family, the Duke of Milan
1480 to 1487 1480 The French introduced playing cards with the symbols
Hearts, Spades, Clubs and Diamonds. Not known if they were
used yet for Divination but at this point these cards are not
a descent of the Tarot.
1487 This is the first mentioning of these cards being used
1500s During this time, the invention of the Gutenberg press was the
first mass printing of the Tarot cards standardizing the names
and the numbers of the cards and making them substantially
lowered prices so that every social class could afford them.
This printing enabled the Tarot to spread from
Italy to all of Europe. Because of the prior centralization of
the Tarot to Italy, the names were written in Italian.
1530s The words have changed for the names of the Tarot. From
Tarocchi to Tarocco to Triumphs to Trumps then to the French
name of Tarot. The very first Tarot deck was called Carte da
1589 Records from a trial in Venice suggest that the Tarot cards
were used in Witchcraft. No other suggestions were made after
this linking Tarot to Witchcraft or divination until the 18th
16th century The main deck for this time was the Marseilles Tarot deck,
this deck was widely used and bought everywhere.
1781 The first article to refer Tarot to the Occult and divination.
In this article, it is stated that the Tarot has Jewish
Kaballah and Hebrew lettering with Egyptian secret occult
origins. This article was titled “Le Monde Primitif”
(The Primitive World) by Courte de Gebelin and the Comte
de Mellet. Published in France.
1788 The Etteilla Tarot Deck was the first deck published for divination
purposes. The designs were radically different and further reinforced
the idea of the Egyptian origin. The meanings for each card were
printed right on the cards themselves.
1850s French occultist Eliphas Levi further popularized the link to the Tarot
to the Kaballah. Even though others before him had made these same
suggestions, it was Levi that made it stick. The Kaballah – Tarot
system now became the main title for the Tarot. It is also at this time
Paul Christian first labels the terms "Major Arcana" and "Minor
So you see, along with part one of this article, all the history that has been written on the Tarot. Part three will continue on from the 1900s to present.
The world has many wonderful messages; all you have to do is listen.
Karen Artino - Tarot Editor