The Tarot may be one of the most versatile, portable, and illuminating tools available to the inquiring mind. Its history and its depth are rich and abundant. Being skilled in the use of these cards is a gift worth pursuing, and will give you a lifetime of wisdom, insight, and guidance.
As with so much of occult wisdom and techniques, the history is clouded by hearsay, protection, and misinformation. Because for so many centuries it was dangerous to practice such arts, those who were in the know maintained strict secrecy. Meanwhile, those who persecuted such activities were active in misleading citizens about these traditional ways.
Therefore, there are many stories surrounding the history of the Tarot. One that makes sense to me is that the Major Arcana derived from ritual and wisdom traditions from the Egyptian high priests and priestesses. When members of those tribes were exiled from Egypt, their knowledge was passed on only through oral traditions. Only later were they marked on cards. As the Egyptians moved westward into Europe, they were referred to as “gypsies”, a derivative word of “Egyptian”.
We know there was a large population of Moors in Spain. It may be that they were then introduced to the Spanish card deck, which we know now as a Pinochle or Poker deck. It is true that a great number of present day gypsies only read the playing cards, rather than the Tarot cards.
At any rate, it is the Spanish deck that is the basis for the present day Minor Arcana of the Tarot deck. While the Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards, having 4 face cards in each of four suits, the Poker deck has 52 cards, with 3 face cards in each of four suits. By studying the cards, you will begin to witness other comparisons between the suits of each of the decks.