Astrological origin of Tarot
 The Children of the Planets
It is possible to assume that Astrology has played an important role in the origin of Tarot.
In particular, a common Medieval theme was the representation of the Seven planets and their "children". Some of the representations of the "Children of the Planets" have an high degree of similarity with Tarot images.
It is sure that the ancient gods were very important for the medieval culture. So it is difficult to think that such an important theme had no influence on the early history of tarot. The so-called Mantegna Tarot represents a clear example of such influence. In this page, more examples of contact between tarot and the ancient gods are presented. For those who think this subject interesting, an excellent read is The Survival of the Pagan Gods : the Mythological Tradition and Its Place in Renaissance Humanism and Art by Jean Seznec.
 Saturn (Cronos)
Saturn, son of Terra, married Rhea. Fearing his sons would stole him his powers, Saturn used to devour them at their birth – a symbol meaning that Time consumes our lives. However, Rhea was able to save Jupiter, Neptue, Pluto and Juno. Being the father of Jupiter, he is the oldest of the planetary gods. He is often seen as a symbol of time.
Saturn can be recoginzed in the image of the Hermit. In particular, the hourglass is an attribute of Chronos, who since ancient time has been identified with Saturn. Old age is also typical of Saturn (who is older than the other gods).
 The Children of Saturn
The Children of Saturn are described by the following poem:
My children are vicious, dry and old,
Envious, weary, wretched, cold.
Deep eyes, hard skin, their beards are small.
They're lame, misshapen, depraved withal.
Traitorous, brooding, greedy, pale,
They often find themselves in jail.
They grub the dirt, dig graves, plow land,
In foul and stinking clothes they stand.
Condemned to die or live in sorrow,
Sweat and strain, or trouble borrow,
Always needy, never free,
It's Saturn's children there you see.
The children of Saturn are "Traitorous" and "Condemned to die or live in sorrow". The Hanged Man represents a punishment for treason. In many represantation of the Children of Saturn, hanged or tortured people can be seen.
 Jupiter (Zeus)
Jupiter was the child of the god Saturn and the titan Rhea. He slayed his father to become the king of gods and men. The sky god, he is the most powerful deity, though is by no means omnipotent. His seat is Mount Olympus, where he reigns with thunderbolt in hand. The instigator of numerous extramarital affairs, he nonetheless demands from his followers moral conduct a step beyond the rote sacrifices that satisfy his divine counterparts. He is the patron of the Roman state.
The Bibliotheque Municipal de Lyon owns a late XIV Century (1385 ca) manuscipt of Ovid. The manuscript contains many beautiful illuminations. One of them represents Jupiter wearing a "tiara", like a Pope.
 Mars (Aries)
Mars, the Roman God of War, was one of the most worshipped and revered gods throughout ancient Rome. He was the son of Jupiter and Juno and according to legend, fathered Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, with the vestal virgin Rhea Silvia. Because of this mythological lineage, the Roman people felt as though they were also the children of Mars and he was regarded as their protector.
Mars was loved by the beautiful Aphrodite (the Roman Venus). He fathered many children with Aphrodite, including his constant companions on the battle field, Phobos (Panic), and Deimos (Fear).
The month March (Martius) is named after him.
 Apollo (Sun / Sol)
Apollo was the god of youth, music, prophecy, archery and healing. Twin brother of the goddess Diana, Apollo was the son of Jupiter and the Titaness, Leto, daughter of the titans, Coeus and Phoebe.
He was popularly known as Phoebus Apollo, and therefore known as the god of light and the sun. Apollo was depicted with a perfect male body: muscular but youthful. He had always appeared beardless on statues.
Apollo was the god of archery, and he carried a silver bow like his sister. Apollo often enjoyed hunting with his sister, and sometimes with his mother. He also possessed a golden sword.
Apollo was the god of music. Mercury gave him the lyre that he invented, making the instrument with a tortoise shell and sheep guts for strings. No one, god or mortal, could play the lyre better than Apollo could.
 Venus (Aphrodite)
Venus is the Goddess of Beauty and Love. Several poets have attempted to pin paternity charges on Jupiter, still it is more fitting to believe that she arose unfathered from the foamy waves, as portrayed in Sandro Botticelli's masterpiece Birth of Venus. The lover of many, most famously the mortal Adonis, Venus is the mother of Cupid.
In the Visconti-Sforza deck (and most ancient tarot decks) the only ancient god that is present without doubt is Cupid / Eros. He is obviously related to his mother Venus.
In the Leber Tarot Deck (early XV century) the Star Card represents the Birth of Venus, in a style that seems partially similar to the famous painting by Sandro Botticelli (1485 ca). The inscription "INCLITUM SIDUS" means glorious star.
 The Children of Venus
Lightly loving, full of mirth,
My children are happy here on earth.
Merry when rich and merry poor,
None can compare, you may be sure.
Pipe and tabor, harps and lutes,
They play organs, horns and flutes.
With singing, and with dancing too,
Embrace their lovers, kiss and woo.
They rejoice to hear fair music's sound.
Their mouths are darling, faces round.
Beautiful bodies, parched by Lust's heat,
My children find Love's duties sweet.
The Visconti-Sforza Lovers match very well representations of the children of Venus, in which we often see lovers, among other different ways of enjoying life.
 Mercury (Hermes)
The Roman God Mercury, related to the Greek God Hermes, was the God of Commerce and Quick Thought. He is the son of Jupiter and Maia, daughter of the titan Atlas, who holds the sky on his shoulders. Mercury wears winged sandals and carries a caduceus, the symbol of medicine and floral delivery. The herald of Jupiter, Mercury is also the patron of all who live by their wits, including thieves. He is himself precociously accomplished in that field, having stolen Apollo's herds on the day of his birth.
Among his children, we often meet figures similar to the Bateleur_or_Magician (Bagat).
 Moon (Luna)
 The Children of The Moon
All heavenly influence through me must go
Now strong, now weak, now fast, now slow.
Headstrong, heedless, and half-wild -
If he won't be led, he's Luna's child.
Pale round faces and brown eyes,
Cruel teeth, snub-nosed, and never wise,
Easily angered, but soon consoled,
Short, lazy, jealous, greedy for gold.
Tinkers and jugglers and students who roam,
Millers, birdcatchers, those never at home,
If you fish or swim or sail,
As Luna's child you cannot fail.
The "half-wild", "never wise", who is "never at home" can be identified with the Fool (or Lunatic).