A Beginner’s Guide to Tarot Cards

The last few years have seen a resurging interest in all things witchy, tarot cards among them. For some, tarot is a handy party trick, a way to help a friend make connections they might have otherwise resisted. For others, the tarot is sacred, a powerful tool with which to direct one’s life.

Though tarot cards have taken on a mystical meaning in the cultural imagination, they were originally intended as more of a parlor game. The cards have been used since at least the mid-15th century; the earliest recorded decks originated in various parts of Italy. Not until the 18th century was the tarot used for the divinatory (or occult) purpose we know it best for today — Antoine Court and Jean-Baptiste Alliette are credited with popularizing tarot “readings” in Paris in the 1780s.

Between those who think it’s a joke and those who think tarot cards are actual magic lies a vast group who find them insightful and fun, if not necessarily supernatural. Whether it becomes a hobby or a full-time job, tarot reading (for oneself and for others) can be an illuminating way to pass the time.

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