by S.L. MacGregor Mathers
A short essay on the Tarot, by a prominent occultist of the 19th Century
The term "Tarot", or "Tarocchi", is applied to a pack of 78 cards, consisting of four suits of 14 cards each (there being one more court card than in the ordinary packs--the Cavalier, Knight, or Horseman), and 22 symbolical picture-cards answering for trumps. These latter are numbered from 1 to 21 inclusive, the 22nd card being marked Zero, 0. The designs of these trumps are extremely singular, among them being such representations as Death, the Devil, the Last Judgment, &c.
The idea that cards were first "invented' to amuse Charles VI of France is now exploded; and it is worthy of note in this connection that their supposititious "inventor" was Jacques Gringonneur, an Astrologer and Qabalist. Furthermore, cards were known prior to this period among the Indians and the Chinese. Etteilla, indeed, gives in one of his tracts on the Tarot a representation of the mystical arrangement of these cards in the Temple of Ptah at Memphis, and he further says:
- Symbolism of Each of the Keys
- Meanings of the Cards
- Methods of Divination
- Tarot Game Play
- Occult Significance of the Tarot Cards.