Queen of Tarot

The ancient wisdom of the cards

The Enlightenment

Cards also began to be used as a teaching tool very early on. Although the story is apocryphal, tradition tells us that it was Michelangelo who invented the Minchiate tarot deck format, in order to teach arithmetic to children. While no conclusive proof of this story exists, it does show that cards were considered educational very early in their history.

The invention of tarot cards, according to the records we do have (particularly the Marziano text), was almost certainly an attempt to extend the educational capacity of cards, so it would not be particularly radical to suppose that the Minchiate deck might also have been created for educational purposes.

In the early 1800's, people started playing Patience, the first of many variations of solitaire, not so much as a form of divination, but more as a test of luck. Am I in a good mode today? Am I thinking well? How's my luck running? Napoleon was known to enjoy Patience during his exile.


history, the enlightenment, europe, mathematics, tarot cards, solitaire

Related Posts

Cutting the Deck

Tags: solitaire, tarot card spreads, tarot card layouts, layouts, spreads

This is probably the oldest form of cartomancy, dating back to the 16th century at least. People would cut the deck to pull one card, essentially to test whether their luck was running high, before making a decision. Similar principles led to the development of solitaire games in the 17th century.

Ancient Tarot of Lombardy

Tags: reviews, the enlightenment, 19th century

This deck is precisely what it purports to be; the pictures on the box are an accurate representation of the artwork in the deck itself. The deck design is utilitarian in nature, and so might be appropriate for game play. Neoclassical artwork leaves me cold, but if that's what you like then you should expect to be very pleased by this deck. Though not in my favorite style, I must admit that the engravings are quite fine and the illustrations are beautiful examples of their period.

Tarot de Marseille

Tags: marseilles pattern, reviews, 18th century, the enlightenment

There's nothing particularly fancy about this deck, but it is very much what it claims to be. It is a very neat, orderly looking Marseilles pattern Tarot, with each card bearing a white background and primary colors for the illustrations. It doesn't deviate much from what you'd expect in a Marseilles deck, except that the captions and indices are very crisp and easy to read -- and moreover, the are in English! This pleased me. Personally, I have no intention of using it for divination, as I consider the Marseille pattern to be a primarily gaming deck, but that's just me. This deck is certainly durable enough to stand up to the wear of everyday use, and while the figure cards are not reversible, their clear indices would still make it pleasant to play with.

The Game of Leaves

Tags: chinese, dice, china, history, 0827, asian

The game was often referred to as "gold speckled leaves", which does make it sound quite a lot like early gold-leaf Tarot cards. Many scholars will tell you that playing cards were invented in 827 because they have conflated these two games. If there is any relationship between these games, which I doubt, it is this:

Gamblers caught printing cards in China

Tags: chinese, china, playing cards, asian, 1294, history

On the twenty-third day of the sixth month in the thirty-first year of the zhiyuan period (17 July 1294), we caught Yan Sengzhu and Zheng Zhugou playing cards, and have also found wood blocks to print cards. Each person has admitted to the truth of the accusation. We have, according to the rules, passed judgement and punished correctly the organizer Lu Donger, accessory to gambling Zheng Zhugou, the owner of the premises Jiang Sier, and the block printer Ye Lin, and dispatched to the Ever-abundant Treasury for deposit the nine cards (zhipai) that were about to be destroyed, and...