Tarot Cards

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The King of Coins Dotti deck
The King of Coins
Dotti deck

Contents

[edit] About Tarot Cards in general

When talking of tarot cards, either the set of 78 cards or any individual card or group of cards may be referred to.

The set is usually divided either into two, three, or five sections. When divided into two sections, the trumps (or 'major arcana') is distinguished from the rest (often called the 'minor arcana' or 'suits' – though this last term may be confusing for reasons that will be apparent); when divided into three sections, the trumps, court cards, and pips (the last two of which form the 'minor arcana') are distinguished – this threefold division is a common one for especially pedagogical purposes and therefore often used in tarot courses; when divided into five sections, the trumps, batons, cups, coins, and swords are distinguished as five suits.

Sections below divide the cards into, initially, two groups (trumps, and court and pip cards), with the second group divided into its four suits with the court cards separated within each suit for the sake of clarity.

[edit] card stock

Tarot cards are usually printed on cardboard stock, rather than the plastics used for many ordinary playing cards. Most tarot card publishers now use a specialist card stock that has an inner layer of carbon, this helps to protect the card against bends and tears. In our digital age, some decks remain purely cyber-decks, with at least one deck designed for the mobile environment.

Most decks (both printed and cyber) usually have a common back, though some very early cards appear to have had various back images.

[edit] extra cards

Blank cards will appear in some decks because a deck is typically printed on a sheet large enough for eighty cards. As a typical deck has 78 cards, publishers will often use one of the extra cards for some sort of information or advertising, and at times leave the other blank.

Some readers have chosen to use the blank card in their readings, assigning it a range of possible meanings, such as 'the possibilities reflect a blank canvas'.

Other decks have also added various trump cards, one of the earliest being the 97-card Italian Minchiate pattern. The manner in which these have been added varies from deck to deck. Examples include claims that previously 'lost' cards now complete the deck, or various designs were made for the same card and included in the set (for example, the three Magicians of the Crowley-Harris deck), or simply that one (or more) additional card exemplifies some essential quality of the deck in question.

As a living tradition, some have seen the addition of cards as exemplifying an ongoing development, whilst others see in the same action a diminishment of tarot and a lack of understanding this same living tradition.

[edit] The Cards and Their Meanings

The following is a list of cards in a typical tarot deck (although there is some variation across decks) with links to separate pages for each card.

[edit] Trumps

The trumps are also often referred to as atouts or major arcana. Numbering and titles on very early decks did not appear, and of those that show either, differences in ordering, image rendition, and titling occurs. Nonetheless, a standardisation appears to have occurred with the development of what has come to be referred to as the Marseille pattern. Variations, to be sure, continues to occur amongst decks, and the twentieth century has seen a preponderance of decks that, for example, commonly interchange the numbering (and hence relative position) of Justice and Strength.

[edit] common or 'Marseille' pattern

I

II

III

IIII

V

VI

VII

VIII

VIIII

X

XI

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

Bateleur (often also titled 'Magician')

Popess (often also titled 'High Priestess')

Empress

Emperor

Pope (often also titled 'Hierophant')

Lover(s)

Chariot

Justice

Hermit

Wheel of Fortune

Strength

XII

XIII

XIIII

XV

XVI

XVII

XVIII

XVIIII

XX

XXI

-

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

-

Hanged Man

Death

Temperance

Devil

'Maison Dieu' (often also titled 'Tower')

Star

Moon

Sun

Judgement

World

Fool (sometimes numbered 0 or XXII)

[edit] Court cards and Pip cards

These, forming the other four suits in addition to the above trumps, are at times collectively referred to as the minor arcana. In the list below, the English translation of the earliest suit names are used. For the Court Cards, 'Knight' has been used in preference to the more accurate 'Cavalier' (or 'horseman'), and 'Valet' as the more accurate rendition to the more common designation as 'Page'. It should be noted that numerous other titular alternatives have been used on the thousands of different decks that have been designed.


[edit] Batons

also commonly referred to as 'Wands'


[edit] Cups

also at times referred to as 'Chalices'



[edit] Coins

also commonly referred to as 'Deniers' or 'Pentacles'


[edit] Swords

also commonly referred to as 'Epées'


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