Tarot - Definition and History

The origin of Tarot is dark yet : China, India, Egypt ?
The Tarot could have reached Europe through different ways. It first came up in the Middle Ages. In France, Marseilles became one of the most important centres in card manufacturing centres . In 76, Nicolas Conver, cardmaker Master, Painter for the King, designed a remarkable deck of Tarot, which was edited the following year. This deck soon became the tool of most Fortune Tellers and seers in the 18th century. This same Tarot was reproduced by Paul Martineau in 1930 and published by Grimaud under the mark Tarot of Marseilles. The reproduction, in terms of design, is accurate when compared to the original, though the colours are slightly brighter, especially for the Blue and the Red.

Tarot designation:
The origin of the term Tarot is as mysterious as the game itself. It is derived from:
- TAR = track and RO = Royal in ancient Egyptian: The Royal Track
- from the Latin ROTA = Wheel in Spanish
- from TORAH = Moses’ Law in Hebrew
Anyway, the dictionary defines tarot cards as « cards where the back is squared and marked in grisaille ». Are Tarot cards called so by analogy? The Tarot card is called Arcana or Blade.
- Arcana = "Secret", The Arcana calls the unconscious; it awakens on it certain echoes that will allow the interpretation.
- Blade in analogy to the sharp and pointed side of the sword that will go through the psychysme and will awake the mind to interpretation.

Game Structure
The Tarot is a group of 78 cards, with 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. The major arcana are the analogy to the greater events in our lives; the minor arcana add complementary information to the reading. They are called Complementary or lesser arcana.

Card observation
A Tarot card is quite structured, in its frame there are represented characters and animals, landscapes: everything is important and has to be observed.
-characters, positions, gestures, head, the hands, the clothes, the direction in which it moves, etc....
- Above and in the middle of the card there is a number in roman characters. It symbolises the card, except for the 22nd arcana called « the madman »: down we can read the arcana number, except for the 13th, the arcana without number.


The Marseilles Tarot uses 7 colours.
- Flesh-colour, humankind is flesh and the divine is mind.
- Blue = soul = Mercury, the vault of heaven.
- Red, the colour of action, symbol of life origin.
- Yellow, colour of Gods, it becomes on earth the symbol of the power of Kings.
- Green, colour of the vegetal kingdom.
- White, the colour of revelation, grace and transfiguration.
- Black, colour of mourning in the Easter World, Black was first symbol of fertility, fertile land and clouds full of rain.