The Egyptian/Hermetic Connection

Regardless of the fact that paper was not invented until the 13th century, many people still believe that the Tarot has origins in ancient Egypt. The breadcrumb trail that seems to point to Egyptian ideas goes way back to the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes. The medium of the cards may not have existed, but the ideas in the Tarot are ancient philosophical ideas; the Major Arcana represent universal archetypes found worldwide.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the writings attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, known as Hermetica, enjoyed great prestige and were popular among alchemists. The “hermetic tradition” consequently refers to alchemy, magic, astrology and related subjects.

Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth. Both Thoth and Hermes were gods of writing and of magic in their respective cultures. Thus, the Greek god of interpretive communication was combined with the Egyptian god of wisdom as a patron of astrology and alchemy. In addition, both gods were psychopomps, guiding souls to the afterlife.~ en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_Trismegistus

The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck (originally published 1910) is arguably one of the most popular tarot decks in the English-speaking world. The cards, drawn by illustrator Pamela Colman Smith, were commissioned by academic and mystic A. E. Waite and published by the Rider Company. Both Smith and Waite were high-standing members of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was a society established for “the continued preservation of that body of knowledge known as Hermeticism or the Western Esoteric Tradition,” so we can assume that they would base the tarot deck they created upon Hermetic concepts.

~ Excerpt from The Tarot Key: Unlock the Secrets of Your Soul by Aliyah Marr

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