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From Trionfi to Major Arcana

Matto and Papessa from Visconti Sforza deck. Fool from Trippin' Waite Tarot and High Priestess from Robin Wood tarot.

How did we get from there to here? How did the Fool go from being a medieval village idiot to a vagabond, to a free spirit on the road to enlightenment? Does the medieval Popess have any relation to a modern, witchy High Priestess? Did these changes make a radical break from the past?

It’s my thesis that every major change to tarot imagery and card interpretation evolved from what preceded it. There’s a continuous 600-year thread from Italy to France to Britain to the United States and beyond.

I’ve created a new section of this website, From Trionfi to Major Arcana, where I’ll follow this thread of development for each trump card, looking at how the interpretation of the cards shifted along with the image.

This project is being done in collaboration with Iolon, the owner of The Tarot Wheel website. The material sits on my website, but it wouldn’t exist without this partnership.

LINKS
Turning Points in Tarot History gives background information and context for the articles on the individual cards.
From Trionfi to Major Arcana, the Home Page of this section has links to all the articles posted so far.
TarotWheel has loads of card images, related art, and articles that give a good foundation in tarot history. It complements the History section of this website.

Cards shown at top
I Tarocchi Visconti Sforza. Milan @1450. Reproduced by Il Meneghello, Milan, 2002. Collection of Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City. (Il Matto and La Papessa)
Trippin’ Waite Tarot. James Abrams, 2019. Tarotcollectibles.com (Fool)
The Robin Wood Tarot. Robin Wood. Llewellyn Publications, 1991 (High Priestess)

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ah, is this a continuation of what you began in ‘The Cartomancer’ before that went belly up? I was so hoping you would resurrect that somehow!

    September 3, 2020
  2. Hi Sally, yes this is a continiuation and expansion. Actually, the Cartomancer lives on with a new owner. But I don’t think its new incarnation is a good platform for serious history, so I’ve severed my association with them.

    September 3, 2020

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