The Major Arcana and Personal Growth

He first line of the Major Arcana takes us through the process of maturity. It shows the stages of a person's growth from a child, to whom mother is all loving and father all powerful, through, education, to the point where the child becomes an independent personality. At the same time these cards deal with a much wider development, of which the individual development is a microcosm. They depict the creation of human society, out of both the archetypes of existence and the chaotic energy of...

The Chariot

The earlier versions of this card, which showed the Chariot pulled by two horses rather than two sphinxes, derives from a number of historical and mythological sources. Primarily it comes out of the processions given in Rome and other places for a conquering hero, when his chariot carried him through the streets that were filled with cheering citizens. The custom apparently answers some deep psychic need for group participation. Wre still practice it today, two thousand years later, in the...

The High Priestess

Bill Butler, in The Definitive Tarot has commented on the historical-legendary sources for this female archetype. Throughout the Middle Ages the story persisted that a woman was once elected Pope. Disguised for years as a man, this supposed 'Pope Joan' made her way through the Church hierarchy to the top position, only to die in childbirth during an Easter celebration. Pope Joan was most likely a legend the Visconti Papess was real. In the late thirteenth century an Italian group called the...

Origins of the Tarot

Round the middle of the fifteenth century, not so long after the first written references in Europe to cards of any kind, an artist named Bonifacio Bembo painted a set of unnamed and unnumbered cards for the Visconti family of Milan. These pictures comprise the classic deck for an Italian game called 'Tarocchi' four suits of fourteen cards each, plus twenty-two cards showing different scenes and later called 'triomffi' - in English, 'triumphs', or 'trumps'. Now, of these twenty-two images many...