I get some interesting reactions when people discover that I've designed and produced my own Tarot deck. The Tarot is generally perceived as a bunch of mumbo-gumbo junk that eccentric people who wear a lot of purple are into - or worse, as a tool of the devil (I guess that stereotype doesn't fit with the image people have of me). In fact, the Tarot grew out of simple playing card games somewhere in the distant past and had little to do with divination or devil-worship.
By Ervín Pospíšil at cs.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
If you look back to the Renaissance, when allegory was a key feature of art and culture, you'll see how a deck of cards like the Tarot could develop. Avia Venefica of TarotTeachings.com talks about the Triumphs - parades of the era which featured costumes representing Justice and Strength. These parades celebrated life and the human condition and their themes became stable images in Renaissance art and culture. But the true origins and purpose of Tarot is unknown, and theories abound.
I decided to design my own Tarot deck for various reasons. I've always been interested in different ways of interpreting the world - all those odd things on the fringes - and the Tarot is just one of those things. I also love its long and mysterious history, steeped in human experience and everyday life rather than it's spiritual/divination associations. All the images in the Tarot are timeless and just as relevant today as they were hundreds of years ago - which makes for a lovely connection to the past and a higher experience of the human condition. I use the Tarot not to tell me my future, but to remind me how to live my life. Often I already know what I have to do to deal with a certain situation, but it helps to be reminded and given some guidance.
If you have the time I highly recommend reading the TarotTeachings.com site and also the Aeclectic Tarot site (which has a lovely interpretation of the cards as a story of The Fool journeying through life - an easy idea to wrap your head around when you're starting out).
A slight offshoot is this video by The History Channel from TopDocumentaryFilms - exploring the history of the playing cards, which includes the connections with the Tarot. You'll understand why I talk about the Tarot as a reflection of art, culture and human experience after you watch this.
Up next is a quick reference guide to reading the Tarot - with an easy spread and quick reference meanings for each card to get your started!
If you're interested in getting your own copy of my Tarot deck (Major Arcana edition), I have a Payvment store on my Facebook page, but you can also email me and I'll whip up a Paypal invoice for you (you don't need a paypal account and you can pay by credit card if you wish).