History

A tarot deck is a deck of cards that follows a particular order and structure that most likely originates from the 15th century Italian card game Tarrocchi. Source material before the 1400s is unclear and controversial amongst historians. Historical records are limited, but it appears that divinatory use of tarot did not become common until the 18th century, well after the cards were introduced.

Many adaptations and interpretations of the tarot structure exist today, but the common basis is a 78-card deck comprised of four suits of 14 cards (the Minor Arcana), plus the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. The word Arcanum means ‘secret knowledge.’ This deck and guidebook are based off of a popular deck written by Arthur Edward Waite, drawn by Pamela Colman Smith, and published by Rider in 1910.

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck was strikingly different from decks before it, notably including illustrated scenes for each numbered card of the Minor Arcana. Earlier decks illustrated the numbered Minor Arcana cards with simpler geometric designs. I chose to draw my deck in the Rider-Waite-Smith direction because I adore the depth of meaning and room for interpretation provided by Pamela Smith’s Minor Arcana illustrations. The popularity of this format also makes this deck readable with many guidebooks based off of the same source.