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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

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Author Topic: The Pictorial Key to the Tarot  (Read 1005 times)
Golden Warrior
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« Reply #45 on: November 18, 2009, 01:45:40 am »

We have now seen that there is no particle of evidence for the Egyptian origin of Tarot cards. Looking in other directions, it was once advanced on native authority that cards of some kind were invented in China about the year A.D. 1120. Court de Gebelin believed in his zeal that he had traced them to a Chinese inscription of great imputed antiquity which was said to refer to the subsidence of the waters of the Deluge. The characters of this inscription were contained in seventy-seven compartments, and this constitutes the analogy. India had also its tablets, whether cards or otherwise, and these have suggested similar slender similitudes. But the existence, for example, of ten suits or styles, of twelve numbers each, and representing the avatars of Vishnu as a fish, tortoise, boar, lion, monkey, hatchet, umbrella or bow, as a goat, a boodh and as a horse, in fine, are not going to help us towards the origin of our own Trumps Major, nor do crowns and harps--nor even the presence of possible coins as a synonym of deniers and perhaps as an equivalent of pentacles--do much to elucidate the Lesser Arcana. If every tongue and people and clime and period possessed their cards--if with these also they philosophized, divined and gambled--the fact would be interesting enough, but unless they were Tarot cards, they would illustrate only the universal tendency of man to be pursuing the same things in more or less the same way.

I end, therefore, the history of this subject by repeating that it has no history prior to the fourteenth century, when the first rumours, were heard concerning cards. They may have existed for centuries, but this period would be early enough, if they were only intended for people to try their luck at gambling or their luck at seeing the future; on the other hand, if they contain the deep intimations of Secret Doctrine, then the fourteenth century is again early enough, or at least in this respect we are getting as much as we can.
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