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The Tarot cards by their character form a cyclical, matriarchal and nature based religious concept. This somewhat defies the belief of Christian doctrine and as was the case during the middle ages was subject to suppression alongside a number of other alternative beliefs. This conflict with Christianity cemented itself among the persecuted who could hide their true feelings in the visual imagery of the cards. The cards were then appreciated on many levels not only by those gypsies and philosophers who sought to read the future and gain enlightenment but also as a ‘Bible of Bibles’ whereby the reader could interpret and instruct according to his or her needs, desires or wants. The freedom of thought which embraced the persecuted struck home for obvious reasons and fueled the already strong belief that tarot cards contained mystical qualities revealing the truths oppressive religions attempted to keep hidden.

Female symbolism pervades throughout the tarot deck and the female form consistently emerges as that which guides and enlightens whenever encountered in the pack. It is this symbolism which bonds many other religious beliefs with that of the Tarot deck. Gypsies and Celts refer to the mother center of earth as Tara, Semites knew this figure as Terah and Romans refer to her as Terra Mater. Buddhists see the lotus as a symbol for the hub of human life and openly attribute the source of all universal life to the female. The connection with the word ‘Tarot’ may be nothing more than a coincidence as the origins of this word is not clear. It is apparent though that there are a number of essential beliefs that intertwine themselves with Tarot philosophy and that of other commonly practiced faiths.

Gypsy philosophy and religious belief centres on the cyclical nature of life. The world will forever be in flux and evolving but the cycle of life continues unabated and the end will inevitably meet up with the beginning in time. Life, death and reincarnation are intrinsic elements of the Tarot deck and one cannot necessarily read each card through its literal imagery. It is the interpretation, which is the essential component of a tarot reading.

In a similar manner Hindus believe the Goddess Kali governs creation and it is she who gave birth to time and the methods of measuring it. As the seasons operate on a cyclical basis so too the wheel of time, forever turning yet remaining constant that forms the cornerstone of the tarot deck. It gave comfort to so many, who with no religious order to follow, took up the self interpreting nature of the tarot deck as their chosen path.

In Europe illiteracy was extremely high even in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Amongst others it was this factor which led to the increase in the religious and holy following of the Tarot cards. Sacred and prophetic powers were thought to emanate from the cards as during this period it was very uncommon to own a bible and even more so to be able to read it. Before the time of the reformation the bible was written in Latin which further segregated the common man from the accessibility of religion.

As a result of the Tarot cards divine visual imagery a large following emerged which further enhanced claims that it was sacred and holy. There were alternative forms of scared material available such as the Pagan scriptures and Cabalistic books. Underneath the surface these too referred to mystical philosophy and teachings. Bibles of the East were arranged in card like format. They were collated and bound together with string to form a primitive bible of beliefs. The western philosophy that eastern idols and images have mystical qualities still pervades today and it is this amongst other ties with religious thinking that continues to link Tarot cards with religion and the occult.

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