Perhaps the 1st modern and most used as well as the most well known of all available tarot card decks is the Rider Waite Tarot Deck. Anyone can know that conventional tarot deck has a total of 78 cards. People think Arthur Edward Waite is the founder of this deck in 1909/1910 and Pamela Coleman Smith is the one who did the illustrations on the cards.
Previously, it was just the major Arcana cards which had illustrations on them. But this Rider Waite Tarot Deck is the 1st one to feature 78 illustrated cards. As a result, most beginners prefer to use this deck as they find the pictures helpful while interpreting the card meanings. This Rider Waite Tarot is the father of the illustrated tarot cards as we know them today as this was the 1st deck to use detailed illustrations on even the minor Arcana cards.
There was this occult society during that time known as the Order of the Golden Dawn and Mr. Arthur Edward Waite happened to be its member. Symbolism was of prime importance to Waite, and so Waite, with the help of Colman Smith created tarot decks with symbolical pictures on them so that they could communicate various esoteric principles.
While designing his deck, Waite took many liberties and his Rider Waite Tarot Deck was a departure from the decks following the contemporary traditions. This was because he introduced several changes. He interchanged the justice and the strength cards so that the justice card became 11 while the strength card became 8.
Along with Ms. Pamela, he also decided to gift to the minor Arcana cards full pictorial scenes instead of just the suit symbols that these cards used to carry. An e.g. in case is the tarot of Marseilles.
In the Rider Waite Tarot Deck, the style of the suit cards from 2 to 10 is like story pictures. The cards of the major Arcana include the world, judgment, sun, moon, star, tower, devil, temperance, death, hanged man, justice, wheel of fortune, hermit, strength, chariot, lovers, hierophant, emperor, empress, high priestess, magician and the fool.
The names of the suits are pentacles, swords, cups and wands while the court cards are the page, the knight, the queen and the king.
Many of the modern tarot decks owe their origin or inspiration to the Rider Waite Tarot Deck which served as their model. And this Rider Waite Tarot also has different variants. There are 4 sizes of this deck – giant, regular, pocket and miniature and they are available in 4 different languages – German, French and Spanish and 5 language. You can also get the online version if you want.
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