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By Helen Farley

The enigmatic and richly illustrative tarot deck finds a bunch of wierd and iconic mages, comparable to The Tower, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged guy and The idiot: over which loom the terrifying figures of dying and The satan. The 21 numbered cards of tarot have regularly exerted powerful fascination, approach past their unique function, and the a number of resonances of the deck are ubiquitous. From T. S. Eliot and his "wicked pack of playing cards" in "The Waste Land" to the psychic divination of Solitaire in Ian Fleming's "Live and allow Die"; and from the satanic novels of Dennis Wheatley to the deck's adoption via New Age practitioners, the playing cards have nowa days turn into inseparably attached to the occult. they're now considered as arguably the most important medium of prophesying and foretelling. but, because the writer indicates, initially the tarot have been used as leisure cards via the Italian the Aristocracy within the Renaissance. It used to be merely a lot later, within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, that the deck grew to become linked to esotericism sooner than evolving eventually right into a diagnostic software for brain, physique and spirit. this is often the 1st publication to discover the remarkably different ways that tarot has motivated tradition. Tracing the altering styles of the deck's use, from online game to mysterious oracular machine, Helen Farley examines tarot's emergence in fifteenth century Milan and discusses its later institutions with astrology, kabbalah and the Age of Aquarius.

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Extra resources for A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism

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203 Dummett logically assumed that it was unlikely that playing cards were ever called ‘naïbs’ in Arabic sources, especially as the plural form of ‘nā’ib’ was actually ‘nuwwāb’. 205 Another theory posits that tarot was derived from the game of tarocchino, once popular in Bologna. 206 According to Count Leopoldo Cicognara writing in 1831, tarocchino (‘little tarot’) was invented in 1419 by Francesco Antelminelli Castracani Fibbia, prince of Pisa though exiled in Bologna. 207 The portrait, tentatively dated to the second half of the seventeenth century, showed Prince Fibbia holding a pack of tarocchino cards, some of which were falling to the floor.

49 The earliest extant packs were from the court of Milan. Apart from a general similarity in structure confined to pip cards distributed across four (non-standard) suits and an additional ‘suit’ of trump cards, they did not closely resemble the pack described in Marziano’s treatise or Marcello’s letter. Of the twenty fragmentary packs, three are of particular interest, being the oldest and most complete. All of these decks featured pip cards distributed through the traditional Latin suits of Coins, Swords, Cups and Batons, though the depiction of the suit signs varied between the decks.

164 It is necessary to have some idea about the history and origins of the people called ‘gypsies’ to be able to ascertain the extent of their involvement with tarot. A thorough academic study has been hampered by the unpopularity of gypsies in Europe. They have been persecuted from the time of their first appearance in that continent and even today are often described as ‘thieves’ and ‘pickpockets’. 167 The following year, Heinrich M. G. 169 Another theory proposed that the gypsies broke away from the ORIGINS AND ANTECEDENTS 25 main Aryan invasion before it reached India.

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