A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAROT
The Divination tool and practice that we refer to as Tarot, carries a rich history and migration story. It is important for beginners, practitioners, and Tarot creators to acknowledge this history so we can understand our role in decolonizing and respecting practices.
LIBRARY OF ALEXANDRIA
It is believed that Tarot originated from Ancient Egypt. Following the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, esoteric and mystical wisdom was preserved by scholars and survived through the book of Enoch/Thoth. The descendants that carried this information, migrated from the lands and are believed to be the Ancestors of Romani people.
TAROT IN INDIA
What we now know through the history of migration, is that the Romani people originated from Northern India. Britannica states that, “It is generally agreed that Roma groups left India in repeated migrations and that they were in Persia by the 11th century, in southeastern Europe by the beginning of the 14th, and in Western Europe by the 15th century.”
This brings to the more widely acknowledged history of Tarot in Europe, during the 15th century.
It is recorded that the first full deck of cards originated from the 15th - 16th century in Europe. They were used to play games such as the Italian tarocchini, French tarot and Austrian Königrufen (Wikipedia).
Like many BIPOC folx, Tarot in its way, has had to survive the impacts of colonization and migration.
What we work with today is a tool that yields a hybrid identity. Just like its history, our practices are evolutionary. I teach this and dive into deeper conversations in my Truth Seeker's Tarot course.
POSSIBLE MIGRATION TO THE PHILIPPINES
As a Filipinx practitioner, I always try to integrate the information I come across, back to my own Ancestral roots.
Our indigenous peoples are known to have pre-colonial migration between India and the Philippine Archipelago. Our Spiritual practices are known to have parallels between Hindu and Tantric traditions.
So how did card divination and oracle reading come to the Philippine islands?
Was it through our Ancestral migration?
What foreign practices did colonization bring in?
What practices did colonization erase?
OTHER NOTABLE SYMBOLOGY AND CULTURAL INFLUENCES
Ancient Greek Mythology (see: Serapeum/ Library of Alexandria)
Catholic influences (likely from its migration across Arabia to Europe)
“Pagan” symbolism & reverence for Divine Goddesses
Alchemical symbology (Origins in 8th cent. Arabia to Spain)
It is important to note that academic history and documentation, may not tell us the entire truth. Critical thinking and research is encouraged when bridging different sources of information. Questions to ask:
What cultures and histories might have been erased due to colonization?
What information might have been lost due to the deterioration of oral traditions?
Who is telling us this information?
What does one party (or colonizer) benefit from the erasure of knowledge?
Where are there blanks in the information?
How does my personal Ancestry relate to Tarot? To Divination? To Mysticism?
And most importantly...
How do I want to integrate this information?
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:
I am not a historian however I believe that a foundational understanding of history can empower and inform us.
I teach Tarot and guide folx through decolonization conversations in my courses in order to bring more awareness and intention behind our personal practices. Please do your own research before adopting or engaging in certain practices, always ask questions, and keep seeking your Truth.
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