Author(s): Ronald Decker
When the Tarot pack was invented in Italy in the early 15th century, it was simply a pack of cards, used for playing games. Esoteric interpretations of the pack date from late eighteenth-century France, and were confined to that country for a hundred years. Nowadays, however, the cards are used throughout the Western world and not only for fortune telling; for real believers they are a key to secret knowledge of the meaning of life. Practised by secret groups such as the Order of the Golden Dawn, by magi such as Aleister Crowley, the 'Great Beast', and by psychics such as Dion Fortune, the occult interpretation of the Tarot pack is a worldwide phenomenon with countless devotees. The roots of the whole modern Tarot mystique lie in theories propagated by the occultists studied in this fascinating history.
Ronald Decker is an art historian and curator of a notable collection of antique cards at the United States Playing-Card Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. Michael Dummett was Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford 1979-1992, and is the author of The Game of Tarot (1980) and other books on Tarot cards and games, as well as books on philosophy and voting theory.