Occult and magic signs are running strong in tattoo culture since its’ nascency. The world famous Tarot cards as a divinatory tool have a long story of giving much-needed insight.

They also inspire people to make significant changes in life – including getting a highly symbolic tattoo.

Colour Tarot inspired tattoo
Death Tarot Tattoo

Playing cards

Tarot began as a pack of playing cards, used from the middle of the 15th century and became popular in many parts of Europe. The French tarot and the Italian tarrochini are among the most widespread types of playing decks in that time.

Almost two centuries later people started using the Tarot decks for divination. Of course, people practiced divination using playing cards as early as 1540.

The Hermit black & white Tarot tattoo
The Hermit

Afraid of persecution by the Church, many witches and practitioners resorted to using simple decks of playing cards for their art.

A manuscript named Pratesi Cartomancer (1750) documents the rudimentary divinatory meanings of the cards.

The Major Arcana

Much like any common set of playing cards, the Tarot consists of four suits. These suits pretty much vary by region. The French suits spread widely in the Northern part of Europe, Latin suits are popular in Southern Europe, and German suits are big in Central Europe.

The Empress Tarot tattoo
The Empress

Each of these suits consists of 14 cards. Four face cards – King, Queen, Knight, and Jack and ten cards count from one (Ace) to ten.

The tarot deck also has a separate 21-card trump suit, as well as a single card (the Fool). The Trump cards and the Fool are often called “the Major Arcana”. The ten pip and four court cards are known as “the Minor Arcana”.

From entertainment to magic

Today they are rarely used to play card games and is used primarily for divinatory purposes. Some occult writers like Aleister Crowley trace the cards symbolism back to ancient Egypt or even the Kabbalah.

However, there is no documented official evidence of such origins. The usage of Tarot for divination purposes before the 18th century is also unconfirmed.

The Hanged Man

The beauty of Tarot tattoos

Today Tarot’s powerful imagery and symbols are a strong influence for many tattoo artists and fans. Here are some beautiful examples.

The Hermit
A Triad
The Moon
Death Tarot tattoo
Death means change and a new beginning in Tarot symbolism
Tarot inspired ink
Strength & Ace of Cups arm tattoos
VI the Lovers

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