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The Tarot


The best known Tarot deck is the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. There are hundreds of others, but the images of the RWS Tarot are the ones which are instantly recognizable. This page has abundant detail about the history and significance of the RWS deck, as well as other texts about Tarot divination.



 The Pictorial Key to the Tarot
by A.E. Waite [1911]
The essential Tarot reference by the designer of the best-known Tarot deck.

 The Tarot of the Bohemians
by Papus; tr. A. P Morton, [1896]
A detailed study of the esoteric roots of the Tarot.

 The Tarot
by S.L. MacGregor Mathers [1888]
A short essay on the Tarot, by a prominent occultist of the 19th Century. Mathers also wrote The Kabbalah Unveiled.

 The Symbolism of the Tarot
by P. D. Ouspensky [1913]
An evocative inner journey through the Major Arcana of the Tarot.

 General Book of the Tarot
by A.E. Thierens [1930]
A system of correspondences between the Tarot and Astrology.

 Fortune-Telling by Cards
by P.R.S. Foli [1915]
Several methods of telling fortunes with a standard deck of playing cards.

 Get a Tarot Reading
This is a frames-based JavaScript-powered Celtic spread Tarot generator. The Tarot reading application is presented for entertainment purposes only. We cannot answer any questions about its results or outcome.

 Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot Deck Copyright FAQ
Strangely enough, “what is the copyright status of the Tarot deck?” is the most commonly asked question about this section. This FAQ attempts to address this complicated issue.

 Tarot Card Cross-reference
This is an index of all of the Tarot Card images at sacred-texts. Currently this includes the color 1909 RWS deck, the greyscale RWS images from the Pictorial Key, and the Wirth and Marseilles images from Tarot of the Bohemians.

 Tarot Card Comparison
by J.B. Hare
This presents high resolution images of three cards from the 1909 Tarot deck and the US Games deck. Are they different? You be the judge.

NOTE ON THE COLOR TAROT CARD IMAGESHolly Voley has graciously scanned a set of vintage Tarot cards for sacred-texts, the earliest in her collection. These images can be viewed when you click on any of the black and white thumbnails in the Pictorial Key to the Tarot, or in the right-hand frame in the Tarot card reader. They can also be viewed sequentially in the Tarot Card Cross-reference. These Tarot card images are unambiguously in the public domain in the United States, and differ only slightly from the US Games Tarot deck. This deck is the one known as the ‘Pamela-A’ deck with the dried mud pattern on the back of the cards. There are also high resolution images of three of the Pamela-A cards available below in the Tarot Card Comparison essay.