Glossary entry for
Tarot cards

Tarot cards first appeared in Italy in 1445.Their origins are shrouded in mystery, with some people tracing them back to ancient Egypt. For a long time tarot cards were associated with Gypsies because they used them for fortune telling. The tarot is closely linked to the Hebrew mystical system of Kabalah. There are 78 cards in a pack. The first 22 are called trumps or the Major Arcana and represent stages in occult initiation.The aspirant meditates on the symbolic meaning of each card in order to understand how the universal energies represented operate within his own being. Today there are hundreds of different tarot packs available.Some are just gimmicks, cashing in on the interest in tarot without having the deeper meanings present.Tarot packs with real power are those that embody teachings from long standing traditions.

At the popular level tarot cards are used for fortune telling. The cards are shuffled in different ways, then laid out in certain patterns called spreads. R.J.Stewart, creator of the Merlin Tarot, calls fortune telling a lesser art of tarot, as opposed to meditation and visualisation with the tarot for higher insights. (This song says:"Tarot cards and astronomy". It would make more sense if it was "and astrology", as this fortune telling method fits the context of the verse.)

Contributed by Alan Pert, Sydney, Australia

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