Modern tarot decks, such as we know them, appeared in Italy in the 15th century as series of intricately painted works of art used to play card games. These decks consisted of a varying number of cards and were not specifically created for divination. The first such cards, usually created for noble families to celebrate special occasions, were known in Italy as trionfi (“triumphs” or later, “trumps.”) These trick-taking games later became known by several names, including Tarocchi, Taroc/k, Tarau,and Tarot. Some people even write it as tarrot, taro or tarro - but those spellings are very uncommon.
In 1909, Arthur Edward Waite and Pamela Colman Smith designed and published a tarot deck loosely based on the teachings of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This timeless deck is commonly known as the Rider-Waite deck and is still the most popular tarot variant for both beginner and professional card readers. In 1943, occultist Aleister Crowley (the self-declared nemesis of Arthur Edward Waite) and Lady Frieda Harris published their own interpretation of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn's tarot. Their Thoth deck, named after the Egyptian god of alphabets, incorporates specific astrological symbolism into each card, linking the divination practice to the cosmos.
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