Question on Tarot History


I'm doing some research work for a deck that I'm working on and was hoping that someone here could point me in the direction of a good resource on historical meanings of Tarot cards. For example, I know that the Hanged Man used to be The Traitor, being hung upside down as a form of tortured execution. I know that in some traditions, Judgement is replaced with The Crown.

I have a variety of little snippits of knowledge, but I'm hoping to find a resource that has a bigger compilation of these. Ultimately, I'm trying to make a deck that takes that older imagery and incorporates it with the newer imagery.

Thanks in advance!


Check out Benebell Wen's "Holistic Tarot". Nearly 1,000 pages of Tarot knowledge


Oh wow, good call. I had heard of this book before, but never realized that it was such a comprehensive guide to the history. Amazon order made post haste! Thank you for the tip!


Hi draque, do you have Robert Place's The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination?


Paul Huson's Mystical Origins of the Tarot is pretty good. He covers both the images and the development of the interpretations. His ideas on the link between the trump designs and the mystery & miracle plays is particularly interesting.


Brian Williams' "A Renaissance Tarot" is an excellent source of information on the mythological, artistic, and cultural background of the major arcana.


Mystical Origins of the Tarot gives the evolutionary occult meanings for the cards, which seems to cover your needs. It's easier to find than Brian's excellent book.


It's been three weeks since the original poster was here, but what the heck, I'll throw in my two cents. Robert O'Neill's Tarot Essays is a motherload of historical iconography and meanings. Hope this will be useful.