What is the French Tarot?

by | Mar 25, 2023 | Metaphysics

The French Tarot is also known as the Tarot de Marseille, which is one of the most famous and influential tarot decks in history. The Tarot de Marseille originated in the 16th century in France and has since become the standard for tarot decks in Western esotericism.

Compared to modern tarot decks, the Tarot de Marseille has several notable differences in terms of its design and symbolism. The Tarot de Marseille has a simpler and more abstract design, with unillustrated pips for the Minor Arcana cards, compared to the fully illustrated scenes found in modern tarot decks.

Additionally, the Tarot de Marseille has more of a focus on the astrological correspondences of the cards, with each card being associated with a specific planet, zodiac sign, or element. Some have made the unfortunate remarks that the modern Tarot decks are just a dumbed-down version of the Marseilles. But as any reader of the cards will tell you, the cards are prompts, not literal.

The Major Arcana cards in the Tarot de Marseille also have unique features and differences compared to modern tarot decks. For example, the Death card is often depicted as a skeleton holding a scythe in modern tarot decks, while in the Tarot de Marseille, it is depicted as a skeleton holding a banner with a white rose. The Lovers card in the Tarot de Marseille also differs from its modern counterparts, as it often depicts a man choosing between two women, with Cupid standing above them.

The Tarot de Marseille has a distinct and unique style that sets it apart from modern tarot decks. Its focus on astrological correspondences and abstract designs continues to make it a popular choice for tarot enthusiasts and practitioners today. And it is also a great talking point when you bring out the Marseilles to someone who has never seen them.

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