The word tarot is derived from the Italian word tarocchi, which has no known etymology. There are many theories regarding its origin. It may be derived from the name of an Italian river, the Taro. Or perhaps it is of Arabic origin, as playing cards originated in the Middle East, becoming common in Europe by the year 1377 C.E. 18th century occultists claimed the name Tarot came from the conjunction of two Egyptian words meaning “royal road,” which indicated that the tarot was the path to wisdom.
Modern tarot decks, such as we know them, appeared in Italy in the 15th century as series of intricately painted works of art used to play card games. These decks consisted of a varying number of cards and were not specifically created for divination. The first such cards, usually created for noble families to celebrate special occasions, were known in Italy as trionfi (“triumphs” or later, “trumps.”) These trick-taking games later became known by several names, including Tarocchi, Taroc/k, Tarau, and Tarot. Some people even write it as tarot, taro or tarro – but those spellings are very uncommon.
The history of the tarot is a rich and powerful one, and these mystical cards allow us to peek into our past, present, and future, influencing our journey from Fool to adept.