French Tarot Cards

A few nice tarot images I found:

French Tarot Cards

Image by ChristinaEatsBrains

Tarot Garden, PanoramaCells, 4 images, JoMo080504_180353_Italia – JoMo080504_180426_Italia – 2602×5615 – SCAL-Smartblend

Image by Pedalofilo
Stitched Panorama

Tarot Garden, PanoramaCells, 2 images, JoMo080504_180613_Italia – JoMo080504_180622_Italia – 2677×2452 – SCAL-Smartblend

Image by Pedalofilo
Stitched Panorama

The Birth of the Modern Tarot Deck: Eliphas Levi and His Kabbalistic Tarot

I have written sometime ago an article on the Egyptian myth of the Tarot. I mentioned there that the ‘creators’ of the Tarot as we know it were basically 18th century esoteric writers Antoine Court de Gebelin and his friend the Count of Mallet. Yet Tarot would not be the esoteric phenomenon it is today (a search on the internet on ‘tarot’ would pull a staggering amount of 28 million entries) if it weren’t for another Frenchman, Alphonse Louis Constant, known as Eliphas Levi (1810 -1875).

Levi was a shoemaker’s son, just like another famous esotericist, Jacob Boehme. He was due to become a priest, but he gave up and got involved in the whirlwind of the 1848 revolution (1). When his political ambitions became frustrated, Levi turned to a serious study of Western esoteric traditions. In the process, he became acquainted with two key traditions: the Jewish Kabbalah and the Tarot.

The Kabbalah is a set of esoteric teachings developed by medieval Jews, and based upon a hidden understanding of the Hebrew Bible. At the core of the Kabbalah stays the Tree of Life, a complex system representing the 10 emanations of God into His Creation and the relationships amongst them. Kabbalah had been enthusiastically taken up by the Hermetic thinkers of Renaissance Europe, particularly Pico della Mirandola, Johann Reuchlin, Cornelius Agrippa and others. Christian Cabala, or Qabalah, as it became known, may have altered the original Jewish thought, but it had a tremendous influence on modern esoteric traditions. Levi enthusiastically subscribed to the Kabbalah and included it in his works.

Eliphas Levi held a belief in the fundamental unity of all esoteric traditions of his time, including Kabbalah, Renaissance magic, alchemy and the Tarot (2). He then naturally tried to unite the inherited symbolism of the Tarot with that of the Kabbalah. Up to him, the Tarot was considered a purely “Egyptian” offspring, the book of Thoth. Levi did not deny the idea; he was still, as most of his esoteric contemporaries, profuse with ideals of the Egyptian origin of esoteric knowledge. However, truthful to his commitment to the Kabbalah, he added a new, original interpretation of Tarot. The Tarot, he said, “is pure Kabalah, already lost by the Pharisees at the time of Christ’s advent”(3). He advanced the idea that the twenty-two Tarot trumps correspond to the twenty-two paths on the Kabbalah Tree of Life. Through this, he implicitly envisaged the Tarot as a path of ascension from the lowest emanation of God, Malkuth, to the highest, Kether.

A good example of his theory of correspondence between Kabbalah and Tarot is the name of “Tarot” itself. He believed the origin of the Tarot stood in “Taro”, an amalgamation of the words “Rota” (wheel) and “Tora” (the first books of the Hebrew Bible). Furthermore, he connected the four-letter word of “Taro” to the four-letter word for God, YHWH (4). All this he set on his Tarot image of the “Wheel of Fortune”, which has survived until today in the Rider-Waite Tarot (number 10).

With his explanation of Tarot as being a key of esoteric knowledge, Levi had a profound impact on his contemporaries. Another French Hermetic philosopher, Papus, would expand on Levi’s vision in his Tarot of the Bohemians (5). Levi also had a great influence on the development of the magical practices of the famous Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. It was Golden Dawn that adopted the Tarot as an important magical tool. In Golden Dawn, the Tarot served the dual purpose of a symbolic image of the Order’s structure and a learning tool for the adept (6). One of the Order’s founders, Samuel MacGregor Mathers, designed the Golden Dawn deck that was used in the ceremonies (7). Although this deck has not survived, it inspired the creation of the most famous Tarot pack, the Rider-Waite. Arthur Edgar Waite, a famous esotericist of his time, did not believe in the Egyptian origins of the Tarot, and he was not as passionate about Kabbalah as Levi. Nevertheless, he did take up much of Levi’s Tarot imagery and incorporated it in his own deck (8). Through him, Levi’s philosophy and vision lived on into the twentieth, and why not, twenty-first century.


(1), (2), (4) Williams, T.A. (2003). Eliphas Levi, Master of the Cabala, the Tarot and the Secret Doctrines. Williams & Company.

(3) Eliphas Levi. (1896). The Dogma and Ritual of High Magic, trans. by A.E. Waite. London: Rider & Company.

(5) Papus. (1892). Tarot of the Bohemians, trans. by E.P. Morton. Online. Available at :,M1. Accessed on 06 December 2008.

(6), (7) Timmermann, A. (2006). “Pictures passing before the mind’s eye”: the Tarot, the Order of the Golden Dawn, and William Butler Yeats’s Poetry. Societas Magica Newslettter, 15, Spring 2006.

(8) Waite, E.A. (1911). Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Online. Available at : Accessed on 04 December 2008

Written by johedesan

A Fledgling’s Information To The Past Events Of Tarot Cards

Article by Brianne Brammham

Tarot cards consist of 21 cards for every suit. Several parts of Europe use the deck to play games, but this is less famed in English speaking countries where the deck is commonly used for divination.

Tarot cards locate their past back in the 14th century. Speculation denotes that they were founded in Islamic countries, but the pioneer past news of them is when they were banned in the dominantly Christian area of Bern, Switzerland. Early tarot decks, for all that, featured only sixteen trump cards, as compared to the 21 that are featured in prevalent decks.

A deck of tarot cards, as they are used now, contains 78 cards, every one of of which contain different, meaningful symbols which can be interpreted in a number of ways. The deck contains a total of four suits, and the names of the suits might alter depending upon the tarot deck one is using. Repeatedly times, the suits are referred to as wands, cups, swords, and coins, which make up what is called the Minor Arcana. Meanwhile, the Major Arcana is made up of of twenty two cards, all of which are used to signify major events or populace in a reading.

Understanding a tarot card is easy, as each trump card has a distinct meaning. Howbeit, careful interpretation is needed if one wants to read the meaning from the group of cards. These cards display astrological connections with readings placed under the context of the Octavian Calendar. Tarot cards are considered to readily describe the fleshly and emotional properties of the subject.

The rich and age-bygone tradition of tarot translating is constantly unfolding through time. The methods of interpreting tarot cards continue to change to catch up with the civilization it is living in. The change in meaning could also contribute to the evolution of the card itself. The details of a tarot card today are far variant from what it was afore.

Face-to-face tarot card readings are the largest favoured types of readings because they allow the person to select the cards themselves. The reader then interprets what cards are chosen. This has more market appeal due to its interactive nature. In disparate parts of the world, there are scarcely any street readers who do readings for passers-by. There are also people who go to homes in order to read tarot card meanings for other members of public. England rates for home readings are at

Tarot Secrets Revealed: The Elemental Spread Explained

The Elemental Tarot Spread consists of 12 cards drawn randomly from the Tarot Deck.  The cards are laid out in the order shown on the picture here.

This Spread was developed by Myself to be able to understand Elemental influences more easily, and also to provide an enhancement to My Readings. It is based on the principle of the Magic Square, and also based on the core of the Celtic Cross Spread.

Firstly the Significator is chosen from the deck to act as a focus within the reading, and to represent the person for whom the Reading is for. (For information on how to choose a significator please view my other Tarot article-Tarot Secrets Revealed:What are Significators in a Tarot Reading?)

Then the Deck is shuffled and the cards chosen at random and laid according to the diagram:

Card 1: Present position

Card 2: PresentObstacle/event

Card 3: Present Feelings

Card 4: Present Aims/Goals

Card 5: Past Obstacle/event

Card 8: Past Feelings

Card 9: Past Aims/Goals

Card 6: Future Obstacle/event

Card 7: Future Feelings

Card 10: The Final Outcome.

(It is interesting to note here that the past and present sides of this Reading can change sides according to which way the significator is looking.  If the Significator is looking to the left then Cards 8,5,9 become 7,6,10.  If the Significator is looking Right or Centre, then the positions are unaffected.)

You would interpret this Spread in your normal way, using the repertoire of personal understandings and interpretations that you have built up as a Tarot Reader.  The difference here is to also use Elemental opposites and equals to add further insight to the Tarot Reading.

(For more information on how to interpret cards by their Elemental properties please read my other articles-Tarot Secrets Revealed: The Major Arcana and Elemental Associations, Tarot Secrets Revealed: Timing Future Events,Tarot secrets Revealed:Tarot and the Four Elements)

Written by Richard Field
I have over 10 years of Tarot-Reading experience, and constantly study Tarot and related forms of Divination-including new forms.

Related Tarot Articles

History of Tarot

There are many texts describing the origin of the tarot card, although no proof has been found to justify a clear case. Some say they came from gypsy origin, others say they are part of ancient Hebrew, Greek or even prehistoric imagery.  What is known is that the first cards were found in the 1400s where an Italian document describes a set of playing cards similar to the 78 deck we see today, but contained pictures of Greek gods and four different bird types.

The structures of the tarot cards were said to have been set in place to tell a story of the soul; to describe a young Christian’s journey through his life with moral guidance and instruction. They have also been used as an alternative to the playing card, which originated in Europe on a large scale some 50 years prior to the Tarot card being distributed. Many texts describe the gambling uses of the Tarot, and how similar they are to other card games, although the use of Tarot was mainly restricted to the upper classes at this time.

During the Renaissance, the Tarot began to appear as a form of divination, where spiritual leaders, occultists, and even scientists used cards to draw upon the power of the spirits to answer questions they had about their life.

The deck consisted of 72 cards, split into two groups: 22 court cards known as the Major Arcana, displayed images with spiritual references to both the self, and also to symbols of ancient cultures. The remaining 56 cards (the Minor Arcana) closely resemble the playing cards of the times, although often the suits are altered to include wands, cups, and pentacles amongst others.

Since the increase in the Tarot cards being used for divination, the air of mystique has tended to follow, although there are still many stories circulating about the use of playing cards as a form of fortune telling, as the Minor Arcana are very similar. In the modern day, the use of the Tarot card isn’t only restricted to the upper classes. There are many decks to choose from, all of which contain different symbols relating to many paths of paganism or other spiritual cultures. The most popular Tarot card deck is the Rider-Waite, deck, brought into production in 1910, as the use of pagan symbols and the many references to the circles of life and the nature we are surrounded by have proved most useful in interpreting the images contained within the card spread, especially by newer initiates to the way of the Tarot.

However, it is usually best that the specific Tarot card deck is chosen by the user to represent how they feel about the self, and where they fit in with their surroundings, and how closely they believe that the particular deck is the best one for them, although it has been considered that bad luck may follow if a deck isn’t given as a gift, but used by the purchaser. The cards themselves are laid out in various forms, or spreads, and the reader seeks to find the story hidden within the images that will help in deciding upon a course to follow, and each spread contains a personal reflection about the user.

J. Roslyn Antle
High Priestess,
“7 witches, help when you need it”