Tarot in Eastern Europe during King Rudolph II etc


Hi guys,
Yesterday I started to wonder what do we know about the probable use of tarot cards at the court of King Rudolph II who was very much into occultism during his reign in Prague.

Any ideas, links, comments or suggestions?

Thanks in advance.


There is no evidence that tarot was used for divination at the time of Rudolph (edited to add - sadly!). I've looked into this too, and although Ripellino briefly refers to tarot readers in Magic Prague he backs this up with nothing - I take it as a romanticised description, not fact. We are currently researching Lasenic and Universalia, and interestingly (and I think significantly) their tarot knowledge seemed to be based mainly on Papus and Wirth (Lasenic studied with Wirth) - i.e. they were drawing from the French occultists, not from any local form of divinatory cards.

Of course, there was scrying, astrology and other forms of divination a-plenty at Rudolph's court (and very interesting in their own right), but I've found no evidence that cards were used in this way.

Tangential perhaps - the Czech Marias cards ARE used for divination. I had assumed this for a long time (as local oracle cards follow a broadly similar structure) but only recently confirmed it when I walked into the shop of someone we know to find a Marias reading going on - first time I've seen this and the method looked interesting. I will find out more when I can find the time. However, this still is unlikely to date back to Rudolph's era.


Oh, I have never heard about the Czech Maria cards, what do they look like and where can I find them????


Here they are:

You can find them anywhere here - even in small corner shops sometimes. I imagine it's also possible to get them in Germany, but I'm not sure that you will find the Bohemian ones as easily as the William Tell. If you need a pack of the Bohemian cards I can always send you one - they don't cost much at all.
Oh - this is the deck from which we took elements for Tarot of Prague by the way. You'll recogise some bits perhaps.

I have been trying to track down a recent oracle deck we saw (the one we saw in use in a reading) that was based on these, but adapted for reading. The shop that is supposed to have it was sold out. We are a bit busy right now, but we will try again, it's a deck I very much want as I've never seen anything quite like it. I also need to find someone to teach me how to read with these.


Hi Karen,
Tried to pm you but your inbox was full. Ok for your suggestion then with the Marias and the other deck. Thanks in advance.


Sorry, I've now cleared some space.

By the way, I'd also be very pleased to hear from anyone else here who may have information about the use of cards for divination here. As I say, I've found no evidence that cards were used for divination at the time of Rudolph, but I'd dearly love to hear otherwise.