Tarot In Wonderland and Many More
Though today we associate them with the occult, tarot cards were originally just another card game—one similar to modern-day bridge, in fact. Like other decks, the first recorded tarot cards showed up in Europe in the 15th century, with the most popular sets selling in Italy to wealthy families. The printing press had yet to arrive, and since hand-painted cards were all that existed, it cost a considerable amount of cash to commission what was essentially dozens of teensy paintings.
Like any deck, these early tarot cards—tarocchi cards, in Italian—had suits, trump cards, and even pips.
While some people dabbled, the widespread use of tarot cards for divination only took off in the late 1700s, when Frenchman Jean-Baptise Alliette published the first definitive guide to tarot card reading. Pseudonymed Etteilla, he wrote a guide to using the cards and released his own deck alongside it. He gave meaning to each of the cards, incorporating beliefs about astronomy and the four elements. He claimed to have borrowed heavily from the Book of Thoth, an Egyptian text supposedly written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom.