If you feel a special connection to tarot, you share a 600-year tradition with tarot lovers worldwide. Tarot’s history takes us from medieval Italian castles to French secret societies; with side-trips to visit English magicians, California hippies, and contemporary digital artists. Let’s explore the highlights of our shared tarot heritage.
The story begins when playing cards migrated down the Silk Road from China to Arabia. In the 1370s, Arab sailors landing in Italian and Spanish ports introduced playing cards to Europe. Their decks had four suits (Cups, Coins, Swords, and Batons) numbered ace through ten, plus three court cards.
Within a decade, these Arabic card games spread throughout Europe. Then in the 1430s, someone in northern Italy added a fifth suit illustrated with popular images like an empress, a pope, and lovers. This expanded deck was used to play a game called Tarocchi in Italy, and Tarot in France.
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