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Tarot Cards


Tarot cards are essentially just an alternative type of playing card and are still used for card games throughout Europe. It is only in the early 19th Century that they took on an occult or cartomancy (using cards to tell the future) association and specialised packs were subsequently created for this market. It is still a popular card game in France and much of Europe. Most of the cartomancy decks are based on Italian designs from the 15th Century but there are many different designs - Tarok (German), Tarrocco / Tarocchi (Italian), Tarot (French) - though the game was never popular in Britain or Ireland. The word 'Trump' in card games has the same latin root and ultimately means fool, knave or liar.

Like standard playing cards Tarot packs have 4 suits, but also have an additional Trump suit. The suits and face cards often have very different symbolism depending on the region and type of pack. In occult packs, the cards are split into Minor Arcana (lesser secrets) consisting of 56 cards - divided into four suits of 14 cards each, ten numbered cards and four court cards - and the Major Arcana (greater secrets), or trump cards, consisting of 22 cards without suits. It is here that the common tropes such as the death, fool and Devil cards are found.

Despite many books and claims about the power of cartomancy, no controlled demonstration has ever predicted the future in any way and most common predictions rely on vague Barnum statements. Such statements could easily apply to many situations like: "a great change is in your future", which could apply equally to taking on a new broadband provider or to your house burning down and your entire family being killed by an axe-murderer.

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