BGW Tarot facts


  by Barbara Walker

    If you play cards, you are using the descendants of tarot cards. Barbara Walker studied the symbolism of playing cards in their original centuries-old appearance as the tarot deck, and found interesting connections. For example, spades were never digging tools; they were derived from the suit of Swords. The word "spade" is from Spanish espada, a sword. In medieval decks, the "club" was not shown as a cloverleaf but as a genuine wooden club. Hearts were icons of love and happiness, as were the tarot Cups, in which joy "runneth over". Diamonds referred to the jewels of wealth and financial matters, like the tarot suit called Coins or Pentacles. Tarot Kings and Queens passed unchanged into suits of playing cards. The tarot Pages became Jacks. The Fool, or Joker, is still there but his function has been largely forgotten.

    Barbara collected, studied, and meditated on many different tarot decks. After years of research, she wrote The Secrets of the Tarot: Origins, History, and Symbolism, which was published in 1984. She also painted the all of the illustrations for the book. It was not about fortunetelling, but about the ancient symbolism of tarot as the bible of illiterate gypsies, who also used it as a moneymaking scam. Later, her illustrations became the Barbara Walker Tarot Deck, which proved so popular that after three decades it was republished in a tin box edition. Barbara never took an art lesson, or painted directly from life. Her paintings come from the inner vision or "mind's eye" images, as suggested by the cards, rendered into acrylic paint.