Surprisingly, tarot is a relatively modern craft. Though tarot decks date back to the 1400s, pictorial cards were originally used for games rather than prediction. Cartomancy, or fortune-telling through the use of playing cards, actually wasn’t developed until 1785, when French occultist Jean-Baptiste Alliette — known by his pseudonym, Etteilla, the inversion of his surname — created comprehensive links between illustrated cards, astrology, and ancient Egyptian lore.
Over the next century, mystics and philosophers continued to expand the role of tarot. In the late 1890s, several London-based occultists formed the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, one of the groups responsible for the modern magical revival. Two of the group’s founders, husband and wife MacGregor and Moina Maters, wrote a manual that detailed tarot’s symbolic power, entitled Book T.