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As one of the few American Tarot players, I do not view Huffington Post's articles on the Tarot in a favorable light because their one sided coverage misleads people into the false belief that Tarot cards are only for card reading. It is the 21st century and it should now be recognized by the popular media that Tarot is also used in certain trick taking card games and Huffington Post is negligent by not mentioning this fact in any of their Tarot articles.
Huffington Post has a bad habit of running one sided Tarot articles focusing only on the use of the cards for divination. In fact HuffPo is rather notorious for their pro-"new age" anti-science bias so it is not surprising that they carry this bias into their coverage of Tarot.http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4283 In fact, the author of their most recent Tarot piece http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/30/tarot-readers-brooklyn_n_5227935.html, Antonia Blumberg, worked with the family of discredited quantum crank Deepak Chopra.

"Tarot is not properly speaking, a divinatory practice, but a complex card game, invented in the fifteenth century, which somewhat like bridge, turns on capturing tricks."
From "Life, Sex, and Ideas: The Good Life Without God" by A. C. Grayling

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The Las Vegas Tarot has now been released!
56 suit cards
21 trump cards
The Fool

Back design featuring our iconic welcome sign

This is a special Las Vegas edition of Trionfi Tarot Playing Cards.

Includes rules for 15th century Tarot game.

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Current Location: United States, Nevada, Las Vegas
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Julia Gordon Bramer is not being entirely truthful about the history of Tarot. While it is correct that the earliest Tarot cards appeared in northern Italy during the 1400's, what she isn't telling you is that the Tarot was designed for a type of trick taking game still played today mostly in European countries. Playing card historians have found no evidence of Tarot being use for divinatory ends prior to the 18th century. The original symbolism of Tarot is actually rooted in Catholicism and contrary to her assertions there's no evidence linking Kabbalah or ancient Egypt with its symbolism. It seems that many Tarot readers such as Gordon Bramer would prefer we not fully know the actual history of Tarot and how it's used in certain card games. They must fear that the demystification of this artifact as a gaming tool might be bad for their card reading business. KMOV is being negligent in this report by uncritically taking her misleading assertions at face value. KMOV owes its viewers an apology for broadcasting such a distortion of history and culture.

Portions of this broadcast used under the Fare Use doctrine in US copyright law
Fair Use

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As one of the few American Tarot game players, I'm displeased at the culturally biased coverage the Tarot deck often receives in the popular media. Bruce Spotleson's column in Vegas Inc is a recent example of how many journalists and editors would rather give free advertising space to those claiming "psychic" or "clairvoyant" powers instead of giving readers balanced and informative content regarding these cards. I worked for Bruce Spotleson at Las Vegas CityLife a number of years ago and I thought he had higher journalistic standards then what I see displayed here.

"A look ahead from the realm of the paranormal"

Contrary to popular belief sadly unchallenged by the mainstream media, Tarot cards were not originally intended for fortune telling. Tarot was made for card games which are enjoyed today in places such as France, Italy, Switzerland, and central Europe.

Bruce Spotleson and others in the media should do more research on Tarot cards.
A good place to start would be the Extraordinary Claims website.

"The Claims

Tarot is a system of divination and fortune telling using a deck of cards.

The Evidence

Playing cards first appeared in Europe late in the 14th century, most likely coming from Egypt. The first known tarot cards were created in the 15th century in northern Italy to be used in trick-taking games called “triumphs” (later called trumps in English). The English/French word tarot derives from Italian tarocchi, whose origin is unknown. Later, tarot cards become associated with mysticism and magic.

Cartomancy is the act of fortune-telling or divination using a deck of cards. There are many different tarot decks used in cartomancy, with the meanings of the cards varying greatly from reader to reader.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary puts it well: “There is a romantic irresistibility to the notion of shuffling the cards and casting one’s fate, to putting one’s cards on the table for all to see, to drawing into the unknown, to having one’s life laid out and explained by strangers who have the gift of clairvoyance, to gamble on the future, and so on. Centuries of scientific advancement and learning have not diminished their popularity…”

The James Randi Challenge offers $1 million to the first person who can prove a paranormal claim under controlled conditions and this offer remains unfulfilled. Although many people claim to possess extraordinary abilities, only a minuscule portion of them dare to come forward and be challenged. One has to wonder why. In any case, those who do always fail to deliver on their claims.

Various tests of the validity of tarot readings have taken place under controlled scientific conditions, and no one has ever achieved a better outcome than what one would expect from random chance. In the study titled “Testing the Validity of Tarot Cards” (2004) by I. Ivtzan and C. French, the participants failed to distinguish between “real” tarot readings and readings based on a random collection of cards. Ironically, believers in Tarot fared worse in this task then the non-believers.


There is no evidence to support that tarot cards are anything other than a simple deck of playing cards."

Another good source of information on the Tarot comes from the International Playing Card Society
"Tarot - a diversion

The study of the development of playing-cards has further been bedevilled by overmuch attention to tarot packs. To the best of our knowledge, the first packs of cards in Europe comprised 52 cards in four Italian-type suits each with three court cards (king, knight, and foot-servant), and were used for games of skill involving trick-taking, as well as for gambling games, which were often prohibited. Very soon, the idea of adding extra cards to act as permanent trumps came into being, and the tarot pack was born. At the same time a queen was interpolated between the king and the knight, so that, with the extra 22 non-suited cards, a pack of 78 cards was created. Such packs have continued to be used for their original purpose right through to the present day.

In the course of their long life, many variations have been tried: the pack has been extended to 97 cards for Minchiate by adding more trumps; shortened to 63 cards by dropping low-value numeral cards; converted to using French suit-signs; shortened to 54 and 42 cards by dropping numerals; but always with the object of playing trick-taking games. Many of these variants are still in use for just that purpose.

Cartomancy and the occult

It is the choice of subjects for the trump cards which has been the focus for so much attention by both scholars and occultists. Though playing-card historians still do not have a satisfactory explanation of the sequence of subjects, many of the occultist theories have been discredited. For instance, the tarot pack was known in Europe in the early 15th century, before the arrival of the gypsies. This rules out the proposed connection with Egypt first put forward in 1781, which forms the foundation for much of the later occult speculation. The earliest known use of Tarot packs for fortune telling was in Bologna, around 1750, using an entirely different system of meanings, and the use of ordinary packs of playing-cards for cartomancy does not date from much earlier than this. Unfortunately, some occultists and cartomanciers continue to ignore these facts.

Tarot gets a new look

With the conversion of the tarot pack to the French suit-system, the trump cards, with their no longer understood imagery, were replaced by other sequences of pictures: animals, mythological subjects, genre scenes. The value of each trump card was now indicated by a large numeral (the forerunner of corner-indices), so that the pictures had no function other than decoration. However, a few sets of pictures found favour with card players, and gradually the range of such tarot packs narrowed down."

What's the harm?

The following was posted on the Board Game Geek website which illustrates the problems created when Americans are misled by the media into believing that divination is the only use of Tarot cards.

"Subject: What game(s) will you NOT play simply because of the theme?
   Tarot.  It has such a bad rap because of the fortune-telling thing I could never own such a deck. I'd just feel weird buying a pack of them, too. Never mind that I'd not use them for fortune-telling, ANYWAY. It'd just sit in the back of my closet like a sore thumb, even though I have heard of some games that sound interesting. I know way too many conservative people (southern baptist, KY) that to them even having a pack of tarot cards would be like drinking or gambling or pornography, except worse by a power of ten since it involves communicating with the devil or his demons and witchcraft....
It's even worse than being an artist (AKA, me) and drawing from a live nude model and everyone thinking that it is pornography. You can't explain to such people that there's a difference in intent, so better not to mention it at all or at worst choose something else to draw. With tarot cards the line is even blurrier for most people; there are so many other great regular card games I can't see any real reason to try games with tarot cards given the confusion."
Jill C.

Americans already know about so-called "psychics" reading Tarot cards so it is a "dog bites man" type of story. Why shouldn't there be some coverage of how some people are playing actual card games with Tarot?

James D. Wickson

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Richard Dawkins banned from speaking at the Wyndgate.

"This is sheer bigotry. If the country club had said, 'I'm not having Dawkins speak because he's a Jew, or because he's black, or because he's gay,' they would never get away with it." Richard Dawkins

Sign the Petition
Wyndgate Country Club: Apologize for anti-atheist discrimination

Dawkins is one the most innovative of recent thinkers. It is to him that we owe the origin of the now popular word "meme" The actions by Wyndgate are fundamentally un-American.

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Where were you?


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Jane Stern has jumped the shark! I really hate to do this because I thoroughly enjoyed the Encyclopedia of Pop Culture and the Encyclopedia of Bad Taste but I cannot give more than one star for this steaming pile of woo derp.

One of the major flaws in this book is that it's based on the common but now discredited notion that the Tarot has always been used for occult or for divinatory purposes. Contrary to what mystery mongers like Stern would have us believe, the Tarot was originally intended for a type of trick taking card game still played in many countries in continental Europe. It is not only Tarot game players and skeptics who realize this fact but a growing number of Tarot readers also acknowledge it.

This title could have passed muster back in the 1970's when more people were gullible and before the publication of Michael Dummett's Game of Tarot which debunked the occult Tarot myths and before the common use of the internet which allowed previously ignorant Americans to be exposed to the realities of Tarot game playing. However, in the 21st century, the views of Jane Stern regarding the history of Tarot are sadly dated as they've been found to be utterly false!

Concerning the so-called "Magician" card, Stern gives a false impression regarding its original significance. That card actually was intended to represent a lowly stage performer, a mountebank or juggler, and it wasn't even originally called a "Magician" Until the occultists got a hold of it, it was never intended to signify paranormal Magic(k)! Her analysis of the Fool card is also indicative of her cultural ignorance. The Fool was actually intended to be a different kind of card than the other members of the so-called "Major Arcana" I should note that the terms "Major Arcana" and "Minor Arcana" were inventions of the occult writer Paul Christian and were not employed when the Tarot first appeared in the 1400s and are seldom used by contemporary Tarot game players. The Fool isn't always numbered as zero. It was employed as a wild card to excuse players of having to follow suit in the original Tarot games and in some modern games played in central Europe, it is the highest trump card.

There are other falsehoods too numerous to mention and the more I examine this train wreak of a Tarot book the less I like it In summary, because the book is based on dated Tarot history, I give this an EPIC FAIL! grade as a Tarot book. Stern should be ashamed of her falsifications of history and culture!

I feel a need to make an update here. I did not expect this review to have the kind of impact it did but of course I'm not the one claiming to have psychic powers. This brings me to the important question of why didn't Stern's psychic powers and her Tarot deck allow her to anticipate such a scathing review?
She could have then made the much needed corrections before it appeared in print.

On her website and in her book Stern boasts of this post-graduate degree she has earned from Yale University.

Shortly after writing this review I did some research on her educational background and it turns out she's no more upfront about her qualifications to give "practical advice" than she is about the Tarot.
She earned that degree all right but what she isn't saying is that it's a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting. Painting is quite an admirable thing but how is this MFA degree pertinent to the field of mental health or to giving any advice regarding one's life choices?

As much as I admire the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, I wouldn't go to him for any sort of psychological counseling.

Confessions of a Tarot Reader was not uplifting for me in any way. I find the applied spiritual philosophy to which Stern subscribes to have minimal therapeutic value and is perhaps counter productive to healthful living as it leaves one crippled by irrational fears of the unknown. Jane Stern is afraid of a great many things such as Ouija boards, feathers, Opal, and incomplete Tarot decks as objects to be avoided.

This supposedly educated woman encourages a phobia about a wooden board which is indistinguishable from other such boards save for the appearance of letters and numbers. The name "Ouija" is a trademark formerly owned by Parker Bros. and now Hasbro. I believe "talking board" is a non trademarked generic name. A scientifically accurate name for such boards would be "ideomotor boards" as that explains all that spooky business behind them.

On the subject of complete Tarot decks, Stern appears not to be playing with one so this is one item I would avoid.

Remember that episode of the Munsters in which Eddie removes the mask from Zombo? It is the 21st century now and it's time more of us realize that the "occult" mask of the Tarot has also been lifted!

This review was posted at Amazon.com and the author wasn't too pleased with it!
Click link below to see the review and its comments ROTFLMFAO!!!!!


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Few cultural artifacts have been as distorted and misrepresentated as the Tarot. Tarot cards were first created for playing a card game and the fortune telling excercises evolved much later. There is no evidence that Tarot cards were created for any other purpose than for playing a trick taking card game. In France, Tarot is played as a classic card game where it has been called the Chess of card games.
Too many of those promoting the use of Tarot for divinatory purposes often falsify the history of these cards. Dr. James Wanless appears to be one of those who are either ignorant or intentionally deceptive on this matter.
It behooves all of us who are interested in the history of classic board and card games to debunk the common falsehoods often spread about this deck of cards.
Links to factual information about the Tarot and of its use in card games







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Why non-believers can have the most fun with Tarot cards

We must keep in mind that Tarot cards were originally made for trick taking card games long before they were used in esoteric or occult practices. If there's any real religion in the original Tarot, it was in the use of themes of the popular Catholicism of 15th century Italy to illustrate the trump suit. The actual underlying Tarot card game of which there has been numerous regional variants across continental Europe is suitable for anyone regardless of creed.

I also wish to mention the fact that all these Rider Waite Smith knock-offs we see in our popular media are not the only kinds of Tarot deck. In the 18th century, German card makers began making a type of Tarot using the same French suit signs as our Poker deck. The trump illustrations varied considerably from the earlier Latin suited design. French suited Tarot cards may depict animal or genre scenes and they are currently most often used in countries such as Austria and France. It would be good if more Americans were familiar with these cards. It would be especially good if more American Tarot writers were familiar with French suited Tarot cards as these writers seem to be only aware of American made cards and this parochial outlook cripples their ability to write on the topic from a more global perspective.

As an atheist game player myself with several blogs, forums, and groups concerning the Tarot family of card games, I have found that the rather small number of Tarot players in countries such as the United States and Great Britain, are often atheists or agnostics. This is due no doubt to the culturally biased context in which the Tarot is presented to most people living in the English speaking world.

Fundamentalist Christians tend to view the 78 card deck with much apprehension and are arguably more superstitious than the gullible folks who actually believe in the future predictions and too many of the fluffy Pagans and Tarot readers believe the common false histories of the Tarot and consider game playing to be a sacrilege to their cardboard Kabbalah and a threat to the virtual monopoly that some in the Tarot reading community wish to maintain over these cards. One of my main beefs against how the Tarot is presented is how too many of those promoting the use of Tarot cards for divination deny the existence of any other Tarot culture besides the divinatory Tarot. It is this promotion of cultural ignorance to which I most object.

It might sound arrogant to some but atheists, agnostics and other free thinkers are not as hindered by these Christian or Pagan prejudices and would therefore be free to enjoy the Tarot as the type of card game it was intended to be. I'm not claiming that non-believers are more knowledgeable than others about these cards but that they are free from the fundamentalist and fluffy ideologies which tend to oppose the use of Tarot for its original intended game playing purpose. While the Christians and Pagans play their ideological football game with the Tarot, my non-believing self will sit on the sidelines and enjoy the Tarot as a quite enjoyable trick taking game.


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"Thats right, people play tarot as a game"


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