Tarot cards have been around in one form or another since early medieval times. Most historians will tell you that Tarot decks first appeared in northern Italy sometime between 1410 and 1430, which probably began as extensions of the four-suit decks of playing cards that already existed, and were originally used. he knew them as “carte da trionfi” or “trump cards.”
The oldest decks of Tarot cards, painted by artists from the mid-15th century, were probably commissioned by the Visconti-Sforza family that ruled Milan at the time. Almost from the beginning, and certainly by 1540, Tarot cards were being used to predict the future. However, it is possible that divination preceded the invention of the Tarot; a book known as The oracles of Francesco Marcolino da Forli State a simple system of divination using the coin suit of common playing cards.
Although not everyone believes in the power of the Tarot, it has clearly established itself as one of the most popular (if not the most popular) divination methods. Previously conjuring up images of nomadic gypsies and filthy carnival stalls, today’s Tarot practitioners are business men and women with attractive storefronts, slick websites, and in some cases highly profitable corporations employing hundreds of psychics. Tarot is big business.
But is the Tarot a legitimate form of divination? Can it really be used to predict the future, or is it just “entertainment,” as most phone psychics have to tell you when you call their hotlines?
In the Netherlands, at least, the Tarot seems to be taken quite seriously. In August 2007, the Dutch government started funding Tarot card readings for the unemployed. That’s right, as part of the unemployment system, you can get a free Tarot reading to help you recover. And they may be heading in the same direction in New York City that offers, among its institutions of higher learning, a Tarot school where anyone can sign up for a degree in tarot card reading.
If you think it’s only the poor, the uneducated, and the bored who come to Tarot readings, think again. The rich, powerful, and well-educated are not immune to the appeal of the Tarot. Christian Dior reportedly had a habit of consulting the Tarot to determine the most opportune day to preview his collections, as well as the best time to slip away and take a little vacation. Ronald Reagan’s tenure as president of the United States was haunted by whispers of tarot cards sliding into the White House out the back door. When Donald Regan, Reagan’s chief of staff, wrote a book detailing his time at the White House, he confirmed these speculations, revealing that Nancy Reagan had an almost obsessive interest in astrology and was in fact known to program some of the president events. official activities based on the contributions of the Tarot cards.
In June 2000, during the height of a controversial US presidential campaign, well-known astrologer Claudia D. Dikinis came forward with the revelation that, according to her Tarot cards, George W. Bush would win the presidency, this to despite his will. personal preference for Al Gore.
In July 2007, Sanjay Dutt, a Bollywood actor, was convicted of illegal possession of firearms and sentenced to six years in jail. Undaunted by his phrase, the famous Tarot reader Mita Bahn quickly pronounced, after studying her Tarot cards, that Dutt would be released. She was right. Just two weeks later, Dutt was granted a temporary lease.
If it seems that all of these strange occurrences involve the rich and famous, it may just be because they are more in the public eye. In 1986, Theresa Jackson, a Florida woman, sat at a table and read the Tarot with her 17-year-old daughter Tina Mancini. Jackson later told authorities that “the cards were telling me that a blond boy of mine was going to die.” Four days later, on March 24, 1986, Tina put a .357-caliber Magnum pistol in her muzzle and pulled the trigger.
While such anecdotes seem to suggest a real power behind the Tarot, it is certainly circumstantial evidence: they may simply be unusual events that coincided with previous readings. Or perhaps the readings themselves were a self-fulfilling prophecy. We will never know for sure. Unless, of course, you’re willing to dig up those old Tarot cards gathering dust in your closet … and ask yourself. You dare?