Tarot cards have been in existence since the mid fifteenth century and have evolved throughout
history. Originally, they were used as playing cards in Europe (primarily Italy) and did not
become used or associated as occult tools for divination until around the 18th century. The
shift was mostly due to an unfounded publication written in 1781 by Swiss clergyman Antoine
Court de Gebelin. The publication was eventually found to have no evidence to prove the
mysticism surrounding tarot, but it effectively created a myth and mystique that would be
forever maintained for centuries.

Containing images and symbols from various sources, decks of cards were first hand-painted
and created in small batches. The hand painted cards were created for the privileged upper class
after being commissioned by artists of the time. Some of the earliest and most famous examples
were painted by Bonifacio Bembo between 1451 and 1453 and can be seen in selected museums
today. Tarot cards were only mass produced after the printing press was invented; thereby
making the use of tarot cards more widely known as they were distributed.

Since tarot cards' inception, they have been referenced everywhere from literature to pop culture
and even in psychoanalysis by Carl Jung. In Jung's opinion, the different cards describe types
of persons or situations already in the collective unconscious that are then identified by the
user. Today, there are several different designs that are suited to match almost any user’s needs
or purpose, and they can be used as both functional cards or art.
 


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