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A Brief Introduction to the Tarot
The oldest Tarot cards to survive to the present were produced in the Fifteenth Century in Europe. The card designs fascinate artists, art historians and investigators into the occult, as the power of the images lies in intricate symbols woven together in specific patterns. Tarot cards resemble regular playing cards with certain additions. Tarot decks include four court cards instead of the Jack-Queen-King in regular decks. In addition, the Tarot incorporates the Trumps, or Major Arcana.

The major arcana incorporate twenty two cards, numbered from zero to 21. The images include symbolic or allegorical information distilled from larger bodies of knowledge and hidden within the pictures. The symbols are related to the deepest spiritual and emotional meanings we can imagine - meanings which are shared, sometimes even across cultures.

The attributes of the four suits vary from source to source. Some assign the elements - fire, earth, air and water - to them; some say they represent the virtues - justice, fortitude, faith and charity; still others assign geographical directions or locations to the suits. Certainly the division into four is one which occurs in all cultures and which Carl Jung saw as significant in the individuation process.

The Tarot used as an oracle allows one to ask a question, deal the cards in a certain way, and extract an answer from the images and symbols. Part of this ability comes from familiarity with the symbols. Another element of a successful reading lies in the ability to intuitively select the proper meaning for the particular question from among the many possibilities.

Many designs have developed over the years. Yet the cards retain the basic meanings. Different reading styles are designed to answer different questions. Often the answer to a yes/no question is elusive, while questions about how to approach a problem are more revealing. Even if you are not at all interested in the oracle itself, you may find the artistic design of the cards worth investigation. Try a couple of readings to see what you think. You may be surprised at the relevance of a seemingly arbitrary card selection.

Illustrations are from the following decks:
- Sacred Rose Tarot Deck
- Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot
  (Copyright 1971 by U.S. Games systems, Inc.)
- Morgan-Greer Tarot deck (Copyright 1979 by U.S. Games systems, Inc.)
- Aquarian Tarot deck (Copyright 1970 by U.S. Games systems, Inc.)
- Ukiyoe Tarot deck (Copyright 1982 by U.S. Games systems, Inc.)
- IJJ Swiss Tarot deck (Copyright 1974 by U.S. Games systems, Inc.)
Reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA.
Further reproduction prohibited.