The existence of tarot cards, or tarock or the many other names by which it was known, is not a thing unbeknownst to people. Having existed from as long as the beginning of the 14th century and first believed to have started in Europe, it was initially a type of card game, much like the card games that we see now in our casinos etc., consisting of 4 suits of 10 cards and 4 face cards, a total of 52 cards, that progressed into the more popular occult tarot, which reigned in divination. And it is quite popular actually! Most commonly, people comprehend a tarot reading as a sort of fortune telling, but this is not the case for those who do use tarot cards often, who understand it as a prophecy, or a telling of the possible future. The difference is, fortune telling demands, that exactly what was said, SHOULD happen, while a prophecy is like having a guide to the right path to decide your own future, from a set of different possibilities. More often than not, prophecy is something that gives us a choice to make, every step of the way. The user tries to gain insight into his past, present or future by posing a question to the Tarot deck, and the result of a tarot reading has its reasoning ranging from being ushered by an unknown spiritual force, to the belief that tarot cards are instruments that tap into the human collective consciousness, which is a theory, that says the human subconscious is held by instincts and by archetypes- archetypes are universal symbols, for example, the Great Mother, the Wise Old Man, the Shadow, the Fool and many more, which signify a deeper meaning on a psychic level. The concept has the subject of Tarotology, which again is a subset of Cartomancy backing them.
The tarot cards came with graphic images by the 15th century, the archetypes, which are said to be derived from the human behavioral patterns, myths, religions, dreams etc. and these were later used for divination, where a question was asked of the deck and the resulting cards that were drawn(randomly), give a collective explanation or a reading in answer. The reading so obtained connects to the collective conscious, which was said to be pulled from the psycho-physical patterns existing in the universe, given specific expression by the human consciousness and culture. The theory of collective consciousness is a pseudoscience, which means it is hard to prove the outcome of a tarot reading scientifically. But there are proponents who in fact suggest that the use of collective consciousness in tarot cards is borne out by extensive research in psychology, neuroscience, and anthropology.
This fact was also something very appealing to the Entertainment Industry, and hence we have seen the appearance of tarot cards many a times on the big screen, like the TV show ‘The Simpsons’, the movie ‘Nightmare alley (1947)’, and even in novels, like in the book ‘The City of bones’ from the series ‘The Mortal Instruments’ by Cassandra Claire and many, many more.
Tarot readers are usually portrayed as oracles and/or mysterious people, with a lot of hidden secrets, with some form of connection to the ‘other side’.
The origin of tarot cards is still a topic of heated debate. The most widely believed consensus still is that Tarot cards originated from the Egyptian etymology. While some connect the dots to the French culture, there are those who point it back to Europe. The number of cards in the deck might change, maybe also the archetypes, but ultimately the final purpose of the tarot cards never changes. It may be true, what the cards can do, or it may not be so. It could also be the biggest hype ever through centuries past, but no matter what we say or do, it sure is undeniably exciting to try out!