Make your own free website on

(see also: Astrology, Divination, Magick, Qabalah)

Article by David Claiborne
(C) Copyright 2000  All rights reserved

Manetho's most important work, The Book of Thoth, has yet to be found.  That book was said to consist entirely of strange symbols which stimulated the reader's consciousness in such a way that he or she could enter the "presence of the gods" and directly experience the higher reality promised by Hermes.  Legend says the book was kept in a locked gold bok in the inner sanctuary of the Temple at Hermopolis, where one priest at a time was entrusted with the key.  In that way, the sacred knowledge passed down from priest to priest and was not generally disseminated among the people.  With the decay of Egyptian civilization, so the story goes, an occult brotherhood was formed to gradually reveal the Hermetic Mysteries to the world.

The trump cards of the major arcana represent the archetypal elements and the minor arcana cards represented their expression in reality.  The word "trump" is derived from the Latin word for the Triumph, a religious procession in which the powers of pagan deities were displayed.

"The game of cards called the Tarot is the Bible of Bibles.  It is the book of Thoth Hermes Trismegistus, the book of Adam, the book of the primitive Revelation of ancient civilizations." - Gerard Encausse

It is generally believeed that the gypsies brought the tarot from Hindustan or Egypt along with Faro, which is said to be the world's oldest game of chance.  The original name for the tarot cards was nabi, an Arabic word for "wiseman" associated with Idris, Enoch, and Hermes.  Further confirmation came from the 18th century French archaelogist Antoine Court de Gebelin, who declared that he had found evidence linking the tarot images with the Book of Thoth, the lost book attributed to the Egyptian scribe Manetho.  Gebelin said the book, consisting of "strange drawings on 22 stone tablets," was originally hidden in an ancient pillar or obelisk that had stooden between the front paws of the Sphinx.  In 1910, the respected ......

p335 Emerald Tablet....

first supposed mention 1332 by Alphonse XI, King of Leon and Castile. he banned them along with other forms of gambling

in 1337 a german monk named Johannes writes of cards that  could be used to teach morality

in1392 Charles VI of France bought three sets of the Major Arcana from a man named Grigonneur

for some time there was a lot of addition and modification to different decks.  by the 1400s the Italian Tarot, called the Tarocchino, had over 100 cards including the Zodiac and the "Christian virtues".  One deck is known to have had over 140 cards.  The decks were used for gambling and instruction in moral principles, but by the 19th century, they are used almost exclusively for fortunetelling.  Most decks used at this time were based on the Grigonneur deck, though variations such as the Marseilles and the Visconti still circulated.

the golden dawn made extensive use of the Tarot and was largely responsible for its reintroduction into serious occultism.

22 major arcana cards can be identified with the 22 letters of Hebrew alphabet and the 22 paths of the Qabalistic Tree of Life.
In The Dogma, Levi devoted 22 chapters to the 22 trump cards, or Major Arcana, of the tarot
. He linked each to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and to aspects of God.

Library Links

Here's some of the crap in our library on this subject.

Off-Site Links

Tarot FAQ

Learning the Tarot - An Online Course

Related Books

Here's some of the crap you can buy on this subject.