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By Helen Farley

The enigmatic and richly illustrative tarot deck finds a number of odd and iconic mages, equivalent to The Tower, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hanged guy and The idiot: over which loom the terrifying figures of loss of life and The satan. The 21 numbered cards of tarot have continually exerted powerful fascination, means 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 permit Die"; and from the satanic novels of Dennis Wheatley to the deck's adoption via New Age practitioners, the playing cards have nowa days develop 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 through the Italian the Aristocracy within the Renaissance. It was once purely a lot later, within the 18th and nineteenth centuries, that the deck grew to become linked to esotericism earlier than evolving ultimately right into a diagnostic instrument for brain, physique and spirit. this is often the 1st publication to discover the remarkably various 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 info for A Cultural History of Tarot: From Entertainment to Esotericism

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Further, if they did contain Hermetic information, this too would have survived among Muslim esotericists, common in the cities of the Middle East at that time. 135 But the most compelling reason we have to disregard this theory was that Egyptian symbolism did not resemble that of the tarot. As more and more sites were excavated and the images studies and catalogued, it became progressively clearer that Egyptian iconology was radically different from that of the tarot. As tarot scholar Robert O’Neill stated: The gods are humans with animal heads.

188 Even in the most favourable of times, the Waldenses did not document their teachings; it is difficult to see why they would do so when they were threatened with persecution. It is unfeasible to divine a role for tarot in this scheme. Suggestions that were every bit as implausible as a Waldensian involvement with tarot were those that proposed that the tarot deck evolved from a pre-existing game. 191 In the absence of relevant documentation supporting the transition from board game to tarot card deck, an absence of evidence demonstrating a similarity in methods of play and a probable manner by which the game could have travelled from India to Europe, these theories must be discounted.

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. 208 As the earliest extant tarocchino packs can be dated from the sixteenth century, it seems highly unlikely that tarocchino, as a shortened version of tarot, predated the appearance of the seventy-eight-card tarot deck.

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