What's your fave tarot history theory?

Where did tarot come from ... your views

  • Invented in Italy in the 15th Century

    Votes: 74 69.8%
  • Invented by the Ancient Greeks

    Votes: 2 1.9%
  • Invented by the Romans

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • Invented by the Persians

    Votes: 4 3.8%
  • Invented by the Mongols

    Votes: 1 0.9%
  • Been around in one way or another since people could draw on cave walls

    Votes: 9 8.5%
  • Came from somewhere in the xargle diplock alpha system :O)

    Votes: 15 14.2%

  • Total voters


Some of you guys absolutely crack me up, hehehe

HOLMES... THat was such a beautiful thought :O)

TarotL: just coz they speak, doesn't make it so IMHO. You can speculate all you like, just as we are :O)



Nothing can really be invented. Only discovered.

Of course, Gutenberg's discovery (some people call it an invention) helped disseminate something that before could only be known by some initiates.

Thank God some clever guy decided to make people believe it was a game. Or else the Church and their greedy power-hungry friends would have probably have managed to suppress it from the people. But in the long run, they would have lost........

Cannot suppress Tarot. Not something as ancient as this.

As to where it comes from originally, I will not say what I think. No point. No documents to back up my theory.


hmmm, I think it was the Bavarian martians in green lederhosen that landed in jmd's cornfield in a flying sauceress.


Personally I'd like to think it started in Ancient Egypt... I love that civilisation. But, I don't truly believe it. I'd like to think it then moved into western Asia, and then into Europe. A very romantic idea. But I don't believe that either. I'd also like to think that maybe it started in Atlantis, and they took it to Egypt. But I don't find that very likely.

Right now I believe the earliest know deck came from Italy. Before that, I think there were others, either with the same structure or similar. They came from somewhere in Europe, and were probably influenced by western Asia, but that's doubtful. Of course, this is mostly wishful thinking, and it doesn't really matter to me anyway. I read tarot successful for years before learning anything about its history, so I don't think knowing the definitive history will make any difference. :)


Bavarian aliens? Green lederhosen? Wow, beats a crop circle any day. ;)


Silverlotus said:
and it doesn't really matter to me anyway. I read tarot successful for years before learning anything about its history, so I don't think knowing the definitive history will make any difference. :)

No, of course it doesn't but it is interesting to see what others may think.

Diana, pleeease give us your idea of origins. You keep alluding to it in a very HP manner, but like her keep it to yourself.. I accept pm's too :O)



Well, there were three I could've gone for...

Tarot in the 15th century Italy, because personally I think that's where the Major Arcana as we know them surfaced.

The Persians too, because I think that's probably where the Minor Arcana as we know it surfaced.

But also the... Tarot has been around in one form or another since people could paint pictures on cave walls, simply because of what I think Tarot is.

But my FAVOURITE theory, for a good laugh, has to be the one about the the Gnome, in the Tarot of the Gnomes (At least the small one anyway!)

ichoyc: Did you know I had a past life as one of the fleeing Celtic feminist cat-worshipping Gypsies? Yes, I remember it all so well... }) ;)

PS- I do so want somebody to create the Celtic feminist cat-worshipping Gypsy deck...



Perhaps it's true that the first Tarot as we know it originated in Italy in the 15th century. But I find it difficult to accept that as the beginning.

The most I know about history came from public schools and a little reading since, but I do know that is about the time Columbus returned to Spain with many New World foods, which then spread all over Europe and even on to Asia and elsewhere, until now it's difficult to think of a tomato as anything but Italian, unless you live as close to Mexico as I do. ;) :) :D Who knows what other cultural influences were doing a lot of traveling around back then? It's anyone's guess as to where the Tarot really came from, perhaps in bits and pieces, and perhaps by word of mouth or as drawings scratched in the sand with a stick, until some very artistic and organized person in Italy attempted to consolidate it into a more tangible form to pass on to future generations.

Then again it may have simply been intended as a parlor game. ;) Wouldn't change my obsession with it!

But I think my favorite theory would have to be whatever is most obscure and unverifiable. I don't want it to lose its mystery.

I would have to say "Other".



Hmmm. Your choice of the Ancient Greeks makes me think that perhaps Prometheus had a twin sister who gave to man the Tarot. Given Prometheus' fate for giving man fire, I shudder to think what Zeus' punishment for giving man Tarot was.


Long story

My favorite pet theory is it came in a celestial vision to an Intu Native awakening from a long winter's nap. He or she had been give a glorious vision and gifts to achieve five things in a lifetime:
1) conceive of 22 arcana and 16 courts and 40 suited images that would become a gambling game and divination system that would spread down to the Eastern or Western worlds at the retreat of the Ice Age.
2) be known for their polar bear and caribou jewelry
3) sing songs and tell legendary stories at family parties
4) build glorious kayak.
5) chew all the never-ending fat (a delicacy for Ice Agers, noteriously always cold and lean) from a jar of never-ending storage.

The native became known to share the never-ending jar contents first (5), have beautiful artcarving gatherings with friendly artisans (2) and then became famous for family parties, where gifts of jewelry and food were plentiful to all. (3) For a change of pace, they would go hunting or racing on the kayaks they would build (4). At such gatherings, the native spoke about the original vision and the intricate gambling and divination system that was to be carried in this vision.
"The visionary who does this will change the world of pictures and words," the native said to others, and they nodded in agreement. They had no idea of what the native was saying, but they loved good food and generous gifts.
At one point, the Intu's children decided to make a team effort with all various guests that the Intu had treated. Every guest was invited to actually carve one arcana and design a few of the minors or courts. The biggest, oldest, smallest, everyone did a carving and a picture-word card and the resulting designs were first 78, then double, then triple. Some gifted guests even did their own version and threw their completed designs into the collection. They chose the 78th birthday of the Intu to present all the versions and waited with baited breath to choose the very best.
The Intu smiled at all the various versions presented, touched one or two and sat for hours, listening to all the guests present their stories, systems, and ideas. They all asked as the last question, "Oh great Intu, is my system closest to the celestial vision that originated it all?
At the end of several hours, even days, it finally became time to choose. Everyone had their favorites and had secret side bets going which would be the first, second, third, etc. But when the final morning dawned and no one else had any more decks or carvings or bones to present, The Intu smiled and pronounced the closest to the celestial vision with a single finger pointing to a certain point.
It was a baby kicking its feet and squealing with delight.
"But that is just a baby just born," said the people in the crowd. "Not evening talking, singing, making art, or even walking or thinking. They live by instinct. The life just beginning---how could such a one be associated with the celestial system of mystery, games and words and pictures? How could such a naive thing be the maker of such a vision that you describe?"
An impetuous artist and yet another also began shouting. For one had made theirs from hand carved blocks, another had handpainted, another had melted down gold nuggets.
One prominent promoter even had ground pigment from bone ivory and painted his wife and children several times in various poses on stretched canvas adorned with several pinholes. (Indeed, this version was so plentifully distributed among his family, that over time people said it was the original version. Bits and pieces of it were taken here and there, assembled and reassembled in so many ways, the original author/artist didn't know which version was the right one--but that's another story).
Back to the patient Intu. The only words said were, "To this babe, as it grows, it will find its way with words and even pictures. The way that we teach is one way; then we will ask it to find it's own way. That is how we live. That is for this child, what becomes the right way.
And for me, what I think and say, what I come to believe, is this: the visionary who does this will change the world of words and pictures. Each visionary who dares changes their worlds--every minute they do this, every day. And for them, then, that is the right way."
Even the most prominent promoter thought a moment and said, "you mean for you...."
"Yes," said the 78 year old sage, "It is the Intu native way."

Peace to all,

Mari Hoshizaki