Evolution of Tarot Cards

Court de Gebelin

Antonie Court de Gebelin was born in Nimes in 1725 and died in Paris on May 10, 1784. He studied theology in Lausanne and, like his father, served as pastor of the Reformed Church.

He maintains that tarot cards are of Egyptian origin and that they are considered to be a hieroglyphic book that has come down to us through the centuries. According to his theory, the tarot cards were an allegory of Egyptian philosophy and reason.

Gebelin concluded that the tarot game could have been invented only by the Egyptians, since it is based on the number seven, in which the suits coincide with the four Egyptian institutions, in which most of the trumps they are clearly related to Egyptian motifs.

Gobelin traced the route followed by the tarot on the way to Europe in the following way: This game was confined to Italy from the first centuries after Jesus Christ since Rome was closely linked to Egypt through the rites and the cult of Isis that the first adopted. Even when Germany was united with Italy, this game spread throughout this country. If it did not arrive in Paris it was due in large part to the rarity of the figures and in particular to the volume of the letters, which could not be pleasing to the taste of the Parisian ladies. Later it would be necessary to make the letters smaller, to satisfy these demands. On the contrary, this game did not survive in Egypt because this country fell into slavery and ignorance,


A passionate follower of Gebelin, Alliette, devoted herself to spreading the master’s ideas, to gain fame and fortune. This was a cunning opportunist of great inventiveness. He placed the letters of his surname in the opposite direction to obtain a less common name and, like Etteilla, he devoted himself to the study of numbers according to the Pythagorean system. He published his discoveries in various works and how he knew the art of suggesting the minds of his contemporaries. He adapted the ancient tarots to his mathematical systems, developed cartomancy to the maximum and tried to reconcile his inventiveness with the maximum scientific precision.

This tarot, known as the Great Etteilla, are emblematic cards based on the typical representations of the tarot and accompanied by a series, numbered from 1, Etteilla questionnant, to 78, Folie. They total, the same as the pre-existing Venetian tarots, the number of 78 pieces.

The designs of the suits are clubs, cups, swords and golds. The figures are full-length and carry the symbols of the sticks in their hands. Some charts are accompanied by astrological and astronomical symbols. Each card has the title at the top and bottom, and the number in the upper left corner. The aces are represented by a hand with its forearm that holds the symbol of the suit.

Eliphaz Levi

In the same way that Gobelin and Estella tried to scientifically demonstrate the Egyptian origins of the tarot cards, this gentleman considers that the tarot cards were a sacred and occult alphabet, which the Hebrews attributed to Enoch, Cain’s firstborn; the Egyptians, Hermes Trismegistus, the god Thoth, and the Greeks, Cadmus, the founder of Thebes.

Eliphaz Levi was a philosopher and a student of symbolism. His real name was Alphonse Louis Constant, and he was a Catholic priest.

Levi saw in the tarot cards a synthesis of science and the key to interpreting the Kabbalah. He observed that, in the Kabbalah, the tree of life has twenty-two paths, which unite the Sephiroth or Numbers.

He successively combined the paths with the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Finally, he stated that the twenty-two major arcana should be coupled to the letters of the alphabet, thus achieving the complete symbiosis of the letters, the letters, and the paths.


Gerard Encase (1865-1917), a French medical scholar who wrote under the pseudonym Papus, contributed significantly to the enhancement of the hidden aspect of the tarot cards and the assimilation of the 22 trumps to the letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

Founder and head of the Masonic Order of the Marinists and member of the Cabalistic Order of the Cross-Rose. He based his occult philosophy on a form of Kabbalist that uses mystical numbers in relation to names and letters. The tarot revolves around the word ROTA, represented as a wheel. He applied the law of numbers to each of the 22 major arcana and to the forty numbered cards.

Arthur Edward Waite

(1857-1942). He was a true student of the occult, author of meticulous investigations and of numerous works, among them, “The Key of the Tarot”, he used symbolism as a key to the tarot. At Waite’s initiative and supervision, a deck of tarots of seventy-eight cards was drawn, called the “Rider deck,” the work of Pamela Colman Smith, an American raised in Jamaica and a member of the Order of the Golden Dawn. The difference of this tarot with the previous two is that the Force and Justice, respectively marked with the XI and the VIII, in this deck has the inverted numbers, the Justice the XI and the Force the VIII.

Waite’s original deck was printed in 1910 by London’s “Rider & Company” and published alongside the work cited above. Today there are several copies of it in specialized bookstores and in various publications.

Wirth – Case – Zain – Crowley

The twenty-two major arcana annexed to Oswald Wirth’s book Le tarot des images du Moyen Age carried Hebrew letters painted in the lower right corner. All the cards have extraordinary metallic colors and are topped with Roman numerals.

Paul Foster Case, in his book The Tarot, A Key of the Wisdom of the Ages, reproduces some of the major arcana, according to Waite’s drawings. Case cards have an Arabic numeral on the lower left and a Hebrew letter on the lower right. Case’s drawings are black and white and lend themselves to being colored according to subjective taste.

The tarot cards reproduced by CC Zain in The Sacred Tarot (The Sacred Tarot) are also black and white and can be colored likewise, the cards are rich in Egyptian symbolism and very different from the traditional ones.

The deck of cards presented by Allister Crowley in The Book of Thoth is colored according to the original drawings by Lady Frieda Harris. The so-called “Thoth cards” are completely different from the traditional ones and were printed, in full deck, in 1971, to join them to the aforementioned work.

Other Tarot Decks

In the course of the last centuries various figures were added to the twenty-two symbolic cards of the major arcana, used to predict fortune. These artistic decks illustrated the events of the time and reproduced military motifs, art, science, literature, poetry, dance, folklore, hunting, industry, theater, etc. In Germany, the motives of the animal world predominate. Despite the existence of Italian, French, German, Belgian, Swiss and North American decks, the titles of the twenty-two major arcana are almost always in the French language, with the exception of the North American ones, which since the 20th century have predominantly carried the legends in the French language. English.

The Unicorn Tarot

This tarot was created by the American Suzanne Star, the author, and Liz Hilton, the artist. It is a bow to this mythical animal. For centuries, Unicorns have captured the imagination of kings, ordinary people, novelists, and poets. The first reference to them dates back to 440 BC. Now, the mysticism of the tarot, combined with the greatness and magic of the Unicorns is represented in the tarot of Unicorns.

It is basically the same tarot of antiquity, the figures are very much from the medieval era and a Unicorn is present in all of them. The twenty-two major arcana have their names written in the English language and are numbered in Roman.

This is the tarot that I interpret, I chose it because it suits my character and adapts very well to the requirements of the consultants, giving answers according to the needs of each one of them.

Amanda Cooper

NourishingYourSpirit, brought to you by Altrusitic Pte. Ltd., is a spiritual platform for all users to be educated and enriched with vital spiritual content that will aid them in their life's journey. Daily Astrological Forecast along with spiritual content in astrology, tarot, psychic, manifestation, etc. will be open for everyone to read. With our dedicated Amanda Cooper, spiritual enthusiast, who will bring about constant updates so that everyone can benefit through their walk in life.

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