Tarot History 101:
An Interactive Quiz
By James W. Revak
Incorrect. Although some occultists and popular books give the impression that an early purpose of Tarot was the safe communication of heretical ideas under the guise of a game, little evidence exists to support this notion. A careful study of early Tarot imagery reveals that all or almost all of it may be explained as an expression of generally accepted ideas of the time through then popular imagery.
For example, compare a 15th-century print of Mars, the Roman god of war (below, left), with the Chariot from a traditional Tarot de Marseille deck (right). Although occultists have suggested many other meanings for this card, the print of Mars and related evidence suggests that the Chariot may very well depict Mars, who, like many pagan gods, was depicted in popular art of the time.
Illustrations: (left) Mars from a series of Italian prints (c. 1470) commonly but misleadingly referred to as the Tarocchi of Mantegna; (right) the Chariot from Tarot de Marseille (1761) by Nicholas Conver (re-published by Héron).
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