The Tarot is an ancient system of knowledge which has been taught over the centuries in secret Mystery schools. Generally known as a system of divination, it can also be used as a tool for self-awareness and self-realization. Its archetypal images can be used as an approach to understanding the inner reality of our experience and for accessing the wisdom of the inner self. Contemplation of the cards, whether drawn individually or laid out in a spread, facilitates self-discovery. Additional Tarot Resources.

Zodiac Arts Meditations on the Major Arcana of the Tarot

Featuring the BOTA deck hand painted by Sandra in 1987.

Click on a card to view larger image with commentary and meditation

small 00Fool

  • small 01Magician
  • small 02Priestess
  • small 03Empress
  • 04Emperor
  • small05Hierophant
  • small06Lovers
  • small07Chariot
  • small08Strength
  • small09Hermit
  • small10Fortune
  • small11Justice
  • small12HangedMan
  • small13death
  • small14Temperance
  • small15Devil
  • small16Tower
  • small17Star
  • small18Moon
  • small19Sun
  • small20Judgement
  • small21World

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A Brief History of the Tarot

The meaning of the tarot is contained in its name; “tarot” is an ancient Egyptian word for “royal road”. The royal road means the path to the top, to self-mastery. Often called a picture book of wisdom, the tarot is a symbolic guide to self-realization. The tarot reveals the universal principles of life that we must experience to reach our potential. The tarot is like a wheel, a tool providing mobility on the path of life.

The origins of the tarot are veiled in the mists of time and, although there are many theories regarding its history, there is no certainty of its beginnings before the 14th century. There are links to China, India, and Egypt. In all cultures, it was associated with the mysteries of the universe.

And all the theories seem feasible when presented by their proponents. In the orient, the images represented religious figures. It is believed that in Egypt the images were painted on the walls in the interior of the pyramids and formed part of the initiation ceremonies for the Egyptian priesthood.

The originators of the BOTA deck claim that after the great library at Alexandria was destroyed, the tarot was devised by wise men who gathered from all over the world in the city of Fez (in what is now Morocco). Needing to create a common tongue, since they spoke in many languages, they invented the tarot as a method of communication.

The Gypsies say that the hidden knowledge of the tarot was originally brought by their people from Chaldea and Egypt into Israel and on to Greece. The Gypsies did indeed roam through Europe at about the same time that the tarot cards began to be used along the shores of the Mediterranean.

Their use was first heard of in 12th century Austria and recorded in 14th century Romania. (It’s interesting to note that the Hungarian Gypsy’s word for a pack of cards is “tar”.)

The first documented appearance of the cards in Europe can be traced to 1392. At that time, tarot cards were painted on parchment or thin sheets of ivory, silver or even gold. The design for each had to be drawn anew and colored by hand. Use was largely limited to the noble, who could afford to hire an artist to paint their own individual sets.

Most of the people in the Middle Ages were illiterate, and religious ideas were transmitted through images: in paintings, carvings and stained glass windows in churches. At the time the cards were introduced in Europe, the Christian church was eradicating alternative belief systems, all of which were considered heretical.

In the mid 15th century, when block printing was developed, tarot cards became more available and widespread. Even then, they were kept hidden for fear of reprisal. After the French Revolution, a new freedom swept Europe and esoteric sects and mystery lodges began to flourish.

The late 1800’s saw a revival of the interest in the occult and the various schools of spiritual mysteries. During that time, the study of the tarot expanded among the adepts. Several of the most commonly recognized decks today were designed between 1890 and 1910.

The growth of western psychology and the interest in Man and his symbols, generated by Jungian students since the 1970’s, have once again reawakened us to the wealth of the tarot. Over one hundred decks are currently available, showing an abundant variety of artistic interpretations of the Tarot.