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Tarot—Pips or Pics?

By Donald Michael Kraig

Most people now accept that the fact that the Tarot cards do not go back to ancient Egypt, Atlantis, or some other source from thousands of years ago. Most knowledgeable Tarot researchers also acknowledge that the Tarot didn’t evolve out of the Kabalah. In fact, the associations of the Kabalistic Tree of Life came long after the Tarot began. They were popularized by Eliphas Levi during the nineteenth century’s “French Occult Revival.”

But when it comes to the designs of the Minor Arcana cards—the ones that are most like a deck of playing cards—most people think they’re all pictorial and dismiss any deck that doesn’t have images on every card.

In actuality, it was only about 100 years ago that the first fully-pictorial deck was published. This, of course, was the deck drawn by Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn member Pamela Coleman Smith under the guidance of fellow G.D. member A.E. Waite.

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