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Even the earliest known tarot decks weren’t designed with mysticism in mind; they were actually meant for playing a game similar to modern-day bridge. Wealthy families in Italy commissioned expensive, artist-made decks known as “carte da trionfi” or “cards of triumph.” These cards were marked with suits of cups, swords, coins, and polo sticks (eventually changed to staves or wands), and courts consisting of a king and two male underlings. Tarot cards later incorporated queens, trumps (the wild cards unique to tarot), and the Fool to this system, for a complete deck that usually totaled 78 cards. Today, the suit cards are commonly called the Minor Arcana, while trump cards are known as the Major Arcana.
Spiritualists believe that phenomena produced by mediums (both mental and physical mediumship) are the result of external spirit agencies. The psychical researcher Thomson Jay Hudson in The Law of Psychic Phenomena (1892) and Théodore Flournoy in his book Spiritism and Psychology (1911) wrote that all kinds of mediumship could be explained by suggestion and telepathy from the medium and that there was no evidence for the spirit hypothesis. The idea of mediumship being explained by telepathy was later merged into the "super-ESP" hypothesis of mediumship which is currently advocated by some parapsychologists.
Now, over a hundred years since the release of the Rider-Waite deck, Tarot cards are available in a practically endless selection of designs. In general, many of these follow the format and style of Rider-Waite, although each adapts the cards to suit their own motif. No longer just the domain of the wealthy and upper class, Tarot is available for anyone who wishes to take the time to learn it.
The illustration on some decks did double duty, providing divinatory tools and scientific knowledge, like the Geografia Tarocchi deck from around 1725. “The Geografia are extraordinary cards, almost like a little encyclopedia of the world with the oracle imagery peeking out at the top,” Matthews says. “The actual bit that you read from is just a cigarette-card length. So for example, the hanged man just shows his legs at the top of the card, while the rest of the card has information about Africa or Asia or other places on it.”
Saul should have known better than to consult with a medium, for God had warned in Leviticus 20:6, "I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them. I will cut him off from his people." The end result of King Saul's quest was tragic. Shortly after his visit to the witch, the king was wounded in battle and took his own life rather than being captured by the enemy.
The biblical basis of this practice is St. Paul's advice to his disciple Timothy whom he appointed bishop. St. Paul told him to "Attend to reading." The word "attend" an allusion to the many other concerns that a bishop has to attend to. By this, according to St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church on Moral theology, the Apostle Paul "wished him to apply to the reading of holy books, not in a passing way and for a short time, but regularly and for a considerable time."
“I also enjoy reading with the Lenormand deck made by Daveluy, which has been beautifully reworked by Lauren Forestell, who specializes in restoring facsimile decks—cleaning up 200 years’ worth of card shuffling and human grief. The coloring on the Daveluy is very beautiful. Chromolithography gave an incredibly clear color to everything, and I think it was probably as revolutionary as Technicolor was in the days of the movies.”
Jump up ^ Joseph Jastrow. (1935). Patience Worth: An Alter Ego in Wish and Wisdom: Episodes in the Vagaries of Belief. D. Appleton-Century Company. pp. 78–92. Lyon Sprague de Camp. (1966). Spirits, Stars, and Spells. New York: Canaveral. p. 247. Robert Goldenson. (1973). Mysteries of the Mind: The Drama of Human Behavior. Doubleday. pp. 44–53. Milbourne Christopher. (1970). ESP, Seers and Psychics. New York: Crowell. pp. 128–29
The illustrations of French-suited tarot trumps depart considerably from the older Italian-suited design, abandoning the Renaissance allegorical motifs. With the exception of novelty decks, French-suited tarot cards are almost exclusively used for card games. The first generation of French-suited tarots depicted scenes of animals on the trumps and were thus called "Tiertarock" ('Tier' being German for 'animal') appeared around 1740. Around 1800, a greater variety of decks were produced, mostly with genre art or veduta. Current French-suited tarot decks come in these patterns:
“Quite recently, it was discovered by Mary Greer that there was a prior source to the Lenormand cards,” she continues. “There’s a deck in the British Museum called ‘Les Amusements des Allemands’ (‘The German Entertainment’). Basically, a British firm put together a pack of cards that has images and little epigrams on the bottom, which say things like, ‘Be aware, don’t spend your money unwisely,’ and that sort of thing. It’s quite trite. But it came with a book of text that’s almost identical to the instructions for later packs of Lenormand cards.”
If I had to choose one book to take to a desert island, this would be it. The ageless "Song of God" is, of course, a magnificent, sacred scripture and not technically a novel, but its narrative form makes it read like one. The Gita tells the story of Arjuna, who turns to the God Krishna, his friend, for explanations and advice on life. Krishna lays out an entire worldview, the philosophy of Vedanta, one of the great achievements of human thought. Christopher Isherwood, an English novelist, and Swami Prabhavananda, a disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and Isherwood's guru, translate the Gita in a simple, modern style, alternating between prose and poetry without sacrificing the majesty and wisdom of this ancient story. Krishna gives Arjuna simple advice which I have found so useful in my own life, such as not to do anything for results, but rather for God: "You can have the work," he tells Arjuna, "but not the products of the work."
Some scientists of the period who investigated spiritualism also became converts. They included chemist Robert Hare, physicist William Crookes (1832–1919) and evolutionary biologist Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913). Nobel laureate Pierre Curie took a very serious scientific interest in the work of medium Eusapia Palladino. Other prominent adherents included journalist and pacifist William T. Stead (1849–1912) and physician and author Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930).