Secrets of the Playing Card
Legends Hold that a Deck of Cards has Religious, Mystical, or Astrological Significance



 
Secrets of the Playing Card
Legends Hold that a Deck of Cards has Religious, Mystical, or Astrological Significance

 
Popular legend holds that the composition of a deck of cards has religious, mystical, or astrological significance.

Thus each suit of 13 cards represents the 13 months of the lunar year. Since the Sidereal lunar month may be approximated to 28 days, each suit is equal to 364 days of the year.

Similarly the whole deck of the 52 cards represents the 52 weeks of the year. Therefore the whole deck is also equal to 364 days of the year. The Ace is symbolically “Alpha and Omega” or “the Beginning and End”.



Playing cards are an everyday object used for gambling and game playing the world over. But the familiar deck of cards conceals hidden meanings that have links to secret societies and the occult.

Why are there four suits and why hearts, spades, diamonds, clubs? What is the significance of the picture cards? What is the meaning of the symbolism of the Tarot?


We look beneath the surface of the playing card and reveal an intriguing journey from their much disputed roots in China, Persia, and Egypt.

And we uncover the secrets of card design, investigating rumored Masonic links and the way the design has changed to mirror the cultures and beliefs of the people who used them through the ages.

What emerges is an extraordinary story that reveals the mysteries and meanings of the humble playing card--a history that is intimately entwined with the occult, voodoo, and man's fascination with mystical beliefs.


A playing card is a piece of specially prepared heavy paper, thin cardboard, or thin plastic, figured with distinguishing motifs and used as one of a set for playing card games.

Playing cards are typically palm-sized for convenient handling.

Playing cards were invented in Ancient China. They were found in China as early as the 9th century during the Tang Dynasty (618–907).


The first reference to the card game in world history dates no later than the 9th century, when the Collection of Miscellanea at Duyang, written by Tang Dynasty writer Su E, described Princess Tongchang (daughter of Emperor Yizong of Tang) playing the "leaf game" in 868 with members of the Wei clan (the family of the princess' husband).

The Song Dynasty (960–1279) scholar Ouyang Xiu (1007–1072) asserted that playing cards and card games existed at least since the mid Tang Dynasty and associated their invention with the simultaneous development of using sheets or pages instead of paper rolls as a writing medium.

The first known book on cards called Yezi Gexi was allegedly written by a Tang era woman, and was commented on by Chinese writers of subsequent dynasties.

During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), characters from popular novels such as the Water Margin were widely featured on the faces of playing cards.

By the 11th century playing cards could be found throughout the Asian continent. Ancient Chinese "money cards" have four "suits": coins (or cash), strings of coins (which may have been misinterpreted as sticks from crude drawings), myriads (of coins or of strings), and tens of myriads (where a myriad is 10000).

These were represented by ideograms, with numerals of 2–9 in the first three suits and numerals 1–9 in the "tens of myriads". Wilkinson suggests that the first cards may have been actual paper currency which were both the tools of gaming and the stakes being played for, as in trading card games.

The designs on modern Mahjong tiles likely evolved from those earliest playing cards. However, it may be that the first deck of cards ever printed was a Chinese domino deck, in whose cards we can see all the 21 combinations of a pair of dice.

In Kuei-t'ien-lu, a Chinese text redacted in the 11th century, we find that dominoes cards were printed during the Tang Dynasty, contemporary to the first printed books. The Chinese word pái (牌) is used to describe both paper cards and gaming tiles.



Tarot Cards


The tarot is a pack of cards (most commonly numbering 78), used from the mid-15th century in various parts of Europe to play a group of card games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot.

From the late 18th century until the present time the tarot has also found use by mystics and occultists in efforts at divination or as a map of mental and spiritual pathways.

The tarot has four suits (which vary by region, being the familiar French suits in Northern Europe, the Spanish suits in Southern Europe, and the German suits in Central Europe).

Each of these suits has pip cards numbering from ace to ten and four face cards for a total of 14 cards.

In addition, the tarot is distinguished by a separate 21-card trump suit and a single card known as the Fool.

Depending on the game, the Fool may act as the top trump or may be played to avoid following suit. François Rabelais gives tarau as the name of one of the games played by Gargantua in his Gargantua and Pantagruel; this is likely the earliest attestation of the French form of the name.

Tarot cards are used throughout much of Europe to play card games. In English-speaking countries, where these games are largely unknown, tarot cards are now used primarily for divinatory purposes. Occultists call the trump cards and the Fool "the major arcana" while the ten pip and four court cards in each suit are called minor arcana.

The cards are traced by some occult writers to ancient Egypt or the Kabbalah but there is no documented evidence of such origins or of the usage of tarot for divination before the 18th century.