The Tarot has attracted and repelled people over centuries. It has held tremendous attraction for those who seek spiritual or prophetic insight and has horrified those who fear the word 'occult'. The Tarot could be a description of the human journey from birth to death, but not in the strictest sense. It consists of ancient paintings and sculptures, of every civilization, and it is not attached to any religion. Any individual no matter which race or caste or creed has to go through the cycle of birth to death, literally as well as figuratively. Events suggested by the Tarot can occur on many levels, physical and the metaphysical. Tarot readings can be done for anyone and readings/divination can also be practiced by anyone, provided an individual has had a fair amount of education in it.
The exact origin of Tarot is unknown. The earliest known records indicate that it was a card game played in Italy, with the French title, of Les Tarots. This game is still played in some countries and bears no resemblance to the present practice of Tarot cards divination. The Tarot pack was used in card games for a long time and it was not until the late eighteenth century that it became connected with divination practices. Nowadays Tarot cards are used by many to predict the future, understand and imbibe the advice given by the cards, when faced with a dilemma regarding health, wealth, career or relationships, for the present time or the future. Keeping a record or track of the advice given by the Tarot cards and going back to check on it from time to time will give the diviner feedback on its efficacy. They are also widely used all over the world for meditation. This method will get one the maximum in terms of correct readings and guidance from the Tarot cards.
Tarot cards symbolize and give out information, (with their pictures or hieroglyph) making the cards a kind of alphabet to represent things or/and events. These cards can give multiple and indefinite combinations that could represent anything under the Sun. Information about people, events, nations can be derived from the Tarot, provided the diviner or reader is an accomplished one. However, one has to be careful about myths attached to the Tarot cards/readings and learn how to sift the chaff from the grain.
Certain traditions or rituals need to be observed while interacting with the tarot cards, especially if one is using them for divination purposes or meditating with them. For eg. the care of the cards, keeping them clean, well preserved and pure in intent. (Smudging, cleansing with salt, smoke, incense, holy water etc.)
There is no known record/history when the first cards were made. The earliest known records show its existence from the 14th century. The earlier cards were made in Italy and France. Tarot cards were banned in England for some time, during the reign of King Edward IV.
Some suggest that the Tarot was brought into Europe from Asia by the gypsies, that it is of Arabic origin and crusaders brought it back with them, or that it is of Indian origin and a very early form of chess. There is however, a close connection between the Tarot and the Cabbala, which is an ancient Jewish practice of mysticism and numerology. The mystery of its origins adds to the magic and individual interpretation of the cards today.