A Wicked Pack of Cards: Origins of the Occult Tarot

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Bloomsbury Academic, Dec 5, 1996 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 320 pages
4 Reviews
Tarot cards were invented in Italy in the early fifteenth century, and for almost four centuries used exclusively for playing games. In late eighteenth-century France, however, they were purloined from the card-players for fortune-telling and the occult. For a hundred years, the use of Tarot cards for divination, and their interpretation as enshrining an occult meaning, remained all but exclusively confined to France. Professional French fortune-tellers, French exponents and practitioners of magic, and the occasional French charlatan, developed uses for Tarot cards and baseless theories about them which were virtually unknown in other countries. The authors trace this phenomenon through the writings and activities of many advocates of Tarot occultism, including Court de Gebelin, Etteilla, Levi, and Papus, showing how an extraordinary variety of occult theories - from Hermetism to Rosicrucianism, from the Cabala to Freemasonry - was brought to bear on a pack of playing cards.
In the twentieth century Tarot divination has spread throughout the Western world; the very word 'Tarot' is now identified with the occult, fortune-telling, and cartomancy. This book tells the fascinating story of how Tarot divination was born and grew to maturity in a single country.

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Review: A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot

User Review  - Zita - Goodreads

Content is useful and accurate. The writing is weirdly opinionated. I'm not sure how the researcher's opinion about occult practices is relevant to his thesis, but he manages to shove it in there anyway. Read full review

Review: A Wicked Pack of Cards: The Origins of the Occult Tarot

User Review  - Beth Henry - Goodreads

Brilliant book! The pages are filled cover to cover with useful information. It is a journey through the birth, beginnings, and growth of Tarot. This one is a definite must read. Read full review


Game or Magic?
How Tarot Divination Began
the First Professional Cartomancer

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About the author (1996)

Ronald Decker is an art historian and curator of a notable collection of antique cards at the United States Playing-Card Company, Cincinnati, Ohio.

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