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Tarot Decks

Chris and I were slightly interested in the Tarot back in the 1970’s. For those who do not know the term, this describes a deck of 78 cards. Fifty-six of them comprise four suits, called the Minor Arcana, and the balance of 22 picture cards are known as the Major Arcana. In traditional Tarot decks, the suits are presented as Wands, Coins, Cups and Swords. The earliest known Tarot deck dates from 1390 A.D. in Europe. The Tarot was actually the origin of the modern deck of playing cards, and probably began as a game. Not until the 18th century did it come to be used for fortune-telling purposes. Each card in the deck developed a specific meaning, and by following certain systems, patterns and sequences of laying out the cards, the structure of the card reading is fleshed out.

Claims are made by various mystical societies that the Tarot is extremely old and dates from the Ancient Egyptian culture, or even earlier.  But thinking people know that only those who lack credibility must try to create an incredible history to lend credence to their charlatanism.  If it sounds dubious, it probably is.

In our experience, the Tarot cards do actually work on some psychical basis – if you have the creative imagination to connect and refine the events around you using the rather ambiguous definitions of the card meanings.  It's sometimes useful to have a tool to help focus and pull things together.  However, if you come to actually believe in the power of the cards, they lose their effectiveness.  Like most truly valuable things in life, you cannot exploit them or coerce them to do your bidding.  You must first achieve mastery of your own mind and soul.  It’s not unlike trying to get a loan from the bank: You have to prove you don’t really need it, to get it.

The later Tarot card decks are filled with symbolism, and we began to collect different ones based on their interesting pictures and artwork. Below are some examples of cards from the decks we had acquired in the 70’s and early 80’s – back when we still had open minds!  Not all of them are strictly Tarot decks, but all had at least some graphical interest.  We bought one of these -- can't remember which -- from a little bricks 'n mortar shop in downtown Edinburgh during a vacation in Great Britain.  They only sold card decks, nothing else.  Talk about your niche marketing!

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Lord of Jades, from the Tarot Xultún, Copyright 1976 Peter Balin.  If you like Mayan art, graphics and symbolism, this is the deck for you.
Death, from the Aleister Crowley Thoth Tarot, Copyright 1978 Stuart R. Kaplan and Donald Weiser.  Lotsa wild, imaginative images in this one.
The Star, from the Aquarian Tarot, Copyright 1975 Morgan Press. Illustrated by David Palladini.  Very peaceful, mellow and New Age-ey.
The Empress, from the Cagliostro Tarot, Copyright 1981 U.S. Games Systems Inc. Illustrated by Bruno Sigon.  Major Arcana done as watercolors.
King of Clubs, from The Key to The Kingdom deck (standard modern card deck), Copyright 1992 Tony Meeuwissen and Nicholas Dawe.  This is one cool deck of cards -- the graphics are superb, whimsical, evocative!  Hard to pick out only one to show.
Tree, from Stargate Symbolic System (not a Tarot deck), Copyright 1979 Cloud Enterprises.  A foolish little deck that tries to be more than it is.
Space, from Bone Black’s Tarot, Copyright 1978 Geatano D. Marabello.  Self-published, crudely presented, but a very introspective and interesting piece of work.
The Fool, from Rider Tarot deck, Copyright 1971 U.S. Games Systems Inc. Designs by Pamela Colman Smith.  Authorized by A. E. Waite, the most common deck in use.
The Sun, from the Visconti-Sforza deck, Pierpont Morgan Library (an early deck, created about 1450 A.D.).  Image taken from calendar, Copyright Pierpont Morgan Library.

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