Tarot mysteriously appeared in the late 12th century in Europe. It's important to know that it emerged at a time of great repression. The Christian Inquisition, with its persecution of secular ideas and thought, was in full swing. The Knights Templar were burned at the stake. So-called heretics" of all kinds were crucified for their crimes of thought and belief. The Inquisition spread like cancer throughout Europe. By the 12th century Christianity had become powerful and well grounded in the physical world. In its twelve-hundred year evolution it became the dominant structure of European life.
This was the ideal climate for the birth of another system that circumvented Christian dogma. The architects of Tarot, whoever they were, must have sensed the need to preserve truth. Why not make a deck of cards that appeared to be a fortune-telling game. A card game would be no threat to the Inquisitors.
The creators of Tarot knew that ideas could be exchanged without the spoken or written word. They made Tarot a complete symbolic system. A symbol awakens in our consciousness some ancient memory that we have once known. Symbols can arouse thoughts by means of suggestion and cause truths which lie hidden to reveal themselves.
Tarot is the reduction of natural and spiritual law to the simplicity necessary for human use. It consists of 78 pictures of archetypal energies that we carry by birthright inside of ourselves. The 22 Major Arcana or Trump cards of Tarot picture these archetypes, the great principles of spirit and nature that create and sustain reality as we know it. These energies are at work within us whether we care to recognize them or not. The individual who does can experience expanded consciousness, awareness, and wholeness, a happier and more productive life.
The archetypes are amenable to suggestion. If we interact with them using our higher mental nature in meditation, especially The Inner Guide Meditation, we allow them to be consciously directed by our choices. (see The Inner Guide Meditation: A Spiritual Technology for the 21st Century, 6th Edition by Edwin Steinbrecher, Samuel Weiser, Inc., York Beach, Maine, 1988.)
The 22 pictures of the Major Arcana of Tarot are visual images of what these forces often look like in an individual when called into form in meditation. They are alive and well within us, striving to be recognized, to create a better world, to overcome our negative qualities and choices.
The 56 Minor Arcana consists of 4 suits of 14 cards each. The suit of pentacles represent the earth plane, our physical body, the physical world. Swo,tis represent air, our thinking and communication, the mental body, our intellect. Cups represent water, our emotional body, feeling, our receptive nature. Wands represent fire, the spiritual body, our ultimate source of energy. These 4 suits are thus symbolic of the basic, primary elements of our lives, our physical body, thinking, feeling and spirituality. .
Many people ask which deck to use in their study of Tarot. Keep in mind that a Tarot deck is merely some artists rendition of what he or she thinks universal energy looks like. Therefore you should use any deck you want, the one that seems to have the most meaning for you. Actually one could create their own Tarot deck by cutting pictures out of old magazines and pasting up each archetype as a collage. The Tarot picture or deck that stimulates the most response in you is the one you should use.
In our study of Tarot during this course we will look at three different decks. The A. E. Waite deck, the Paul Foster Case deck, and an unpublished deck from Jersey, Channel Islands, Great Britain. Keep in mind as you study Tarot that you are learning a new system, a new form of communication using symbols that will increase the understanding and comprehension of your life. This will help you to create a better container for your spiritual values and goals.
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