The modern Tarot deck of today is based on the so-called Venetian deck which consists of 78 cards. The Venetian deck includes 22 trump cards called the major arcana and 56 cards arranged into four suits of fourteen cards, called the minor arcana. The four suits are commonly called Swords, Cups, Coins and Wands. Each suit has four court cards (king, queen, knight and page) and 10 numbered cards including an ace. The trump cards are also numbered from 0 to 21. The Venetian deck is also sometimes referred to as the Piedmontese or Marseilles Tarot.
Another Tarot deck consisting of 97 cards is known variously as the Florentine or Minchiate deck. This deck includes 41 major arcana (trump) cards. In addition to 21 of the 22 Venetian trumps (the hierophant or pope is excluded), the major arcana of the Florentine deck includes the four virtues (hope, faith, charity, prudence), the four elements (water, air, earth, fire) and the 12 signs of the zodiac.
The origin of Tarot is, like their meaning, shrouded in mystery and obfuscation. However, current theory suggests that they appeared in Europe sometime in the later fourteenth century. Theories that suggest the Crusaders or the Gypsies introduced the cards to Europe do not appear to have any chronological support. The Crusades were too early, the Gypsies too late. Initially, Tarot was just a game played with cards.
The history of Tarot's fortune-telling capabilities starts in the 18th century when a Protestant clergyman, Antoine Court de Gébelin claimed that the cards were of Egyptian origin. Further, he claimed that the Tarot contained secret and mysterious information that was so powerful it could only be transferred from generation to generation under the guise of a light-hearted card game. If the powers-that-be knew of Tarot's power they would have certainly reacted against it. Cards in general were viewed with some consternation by the religious leaders. Court de Gébelin ushered in a whole new approach to the Tarot: With the mistaken assumption about their origin, the Tarot's cards became the key to unlocking the secret mysteries of the cosmic.
In the 19th century, mystics such as Gerard Encausse (pseudonymously known as Papus) and Alphonse Louis Constant (pseudonymously known as Eliphas Levi) amplified the divining nature of Tarot by connecting it to Jewish Cabalistic mysticism. As one commentator writes:Although Christian, Jungian and other symbolic systems have affected modern interpretations [of Tarot], the set scheme which has had the greatest influence is based on the Cabala. (Richard Cavendish)Cabalistic mysticism is an elaborate and speculative set of teachings organized by medieval scholars and based on ancient and obscure traditions. Using a diagram called "the tree of life", lessons explaining how the world and man and god came into existence are learned by the those that have the patience and the skill to penetrate the metaphors.
Tarot, like other fortune-telling enterprises must begin with the premise that there are no accidents. Every occurrence is determined by a pre-determined law. By divining that cosmic law, one can predict the future. The "tree of life" is basically a cryptic map of that law and Tarot, its 22 trump cards related to the Hebrew alphabet, contains the clues to the decoding and proper interpretation of the tree.The Tarot's virtue is thus to induce that psychic or mental state favorable to divination. (Kurt Seligmann)
In 1910, Arthur Edward Waite published The Pictorial Key to the Tarot and supervised the creation of what is known as the Rider Tarot Deck. The actual design of the cards was accomplished by Pamela Colman Smith and it is the Rider deck that has been used to represent the major arcana cosmic players on this roster. While not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing of decks, the Waite-inspired Rider deck is, today, one of the most popular decks available. There are other Tarot deck designs. A modern example is the deck designed by Fergus Hall for the James Bond film Live and Let Die.
- Cavendish, Richard. The Tarot. Harper & Row, New York: 1975.
- Martello, Leo L. Understanding the Tarot. HC Publishers, New York: 1972.
- Seligmann, Kurt. The History of Magic. Pantheon Books, New York: 1948.
Links to Online Tarot-related Sites
- Frequently Asked Question about the Tarot
- Tarot Resources on the Net
- Mary Greer's Tarot Links
- TAROT: Tools and Rites of Transformation
- Tarot Traditions Newsletter
- Freaky Tarot Central
- Digital Habitat Tarot Resource Links
- 1998 Ridertown Tarotians Official Team Roster
The Fool (0)
OutfieldThe alpha and omega of existence. All or nothing at all.
The Magician (1)
PitcherSome decks call him the juggler. The secrets of the universe are within us.
The High Priestess (2)
CatcherSome adepts consider her the highest and holiest of all the cards. She is intuition and hidden knowledge.
The Empress (3)
FirstbaseThe Earth Mother. Symbolic of fertility, growth, harvest, abundance. Goddess of human love.
The Emperor (4)
SecondbaseRuler of the intellect. The mind over emotions.
The Hierophant (5)
ThirdbaseSome decks call him the Pope. He is symbolic of conventional behavior and thought.
The Lovers (6)
ShortstopYoung, innocent love; but also on a deeper level the struggle between good and evil.
The Chariot (7)
LeftfieldWill power. Mastery of the self.
CenterfieldSpiritual power is more powerful than material power.
The Hermit (9)
RightfieldThe search for self and identity. The hermit is the enlightened, lonely, and sad sage.
The Wheel of Fortune (10)
PitcherThe only constant is change.
PitcherFair play, rationality; a balanced existence.
The Hanged Man (12)
PitcherSurrender of self to a higher authority. Suspended judgment; postponed decision.
PitcherTransformation, rebirth, reincarnation, regeneration. In the end there is a beginning.
PitcherModeration and balance. Implies organization and thoughtful management.
The Devil (15)
PitcherSelf-indulgence, sensuality, irrational behavior. Chained by the material world.
The Tower (16)
PitcherCatastrophe and disaster, bankruptcy, divorce, chaos. A tearing down of the status quo.
The Star (17)
PitcherHope and ambition. Achievement, courage, satisfaction.
The Moon (18)
PitcherThe unknown world of dreams. Imagination and intuition.
The Sun (19)
InfieldSuccess, growth, perhaps material wealth. Clarity of consciousness.
The Last Judgment (20)
InfieldAtonement and a coming to one's senses. Prudence is emphasized.
The World (21)
OutfieldCosmic knowledge and cosmic consciousness.
1810-1875French writer born in Paris, son of a shoemaker. Levi's given name was Alphonse Louis Constant. Cavendish calls Levi the "first writer to fit the Tarot systematically into the scheme of the Cabala." In 1856 he published Le Dogme et ritual de la Haute Magic which suggested the Tarot had its origins in Jewish mystical thought. Levi associated the 22 trump cards with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
King of Wands
CoachSuggestive of business or professional affairs. This king is secure and confident. Sitting on his throne he holds a wand that is beginning to bloom. A small lizard is perched by his left foot. While not an intellectual he has a good sense of humor and works hard. Usually he will make snap decisions on minor matters and procrastinate when dealing with more serious issues. The King of Wands symbolizes a good marriage.
Queen of Wands
CoachThis queen is warm and affectionate, settled and stable. In her left hand she holds a sunflower and in her right she holds a blooming baton. A cat sits in front of her. The Queen of Wands is a generous, popular and demanding person. Symbolic of success in business.
Knight of Wands
CoachActive and alert, the Knight of Wands is also impetuous. He is quick to make decisions. Like the Queen and King of Wands he holds a baton in bloom suggesting good fortune. The card frequently indicates some change ahead: a departure or move, perhaps a separation.
1743-1795An Italian adventurer and charlatan who renamed himself Alesandro di Conte Cagliostro. He traveled across Europe selling potions and elixirs, practicing alchemy and magic and landed in jail in the Bastille in Paris and in Rome.
Arthur Edward Waite
1857-1942A belief in the secret tradition of the transfer of knowledge, A. E. Waite spent a considerable portion of his life trying to uncover the tradition's secrets. A member of the mystical Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Waite wrote, in 1910, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot: Being Fragments of a Secret Tradition under the Veil of Divination which is still the standard English-language introduction to the Tarot. Waite also supervised the design of the popular Rider Tarot deck.
1997 Ridertown Tarotians Roster
Published: February 23, 1997
Revised: February 15, 1998
© 1997, 1998 by the Cosmic Baseball Association