After purchasing several books on the tarot, one might think that I would have had a pretty good handle on what this mysterious little deck of cards entailed, however, nothing could have been further from the truth. It seemed that every page I turned, and each book I purchased, brought a new and unforeseen twist to the legends that surrounded the tarot.
Even the first book that I had purchased, Paul Foster Case's The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages provided several interpretations of the cards. One interpretation that I found particularly interesting was that the tarot wasn't a card deck at all but rather a "book without a binding". According to Case, this "book" had been converted into a card-like form to enable the "secrets" it contained not only to be preserved while remaining hidden in plain sight.
These legends helped make the books I read entertaining as well as informative. One of the other theories espoused by Case dealt with the name of the tarot itself. From the information I gleaned, it was entirely possible that the word, "tarot" wasn't a word at all. Instead, the "tarot" term had actually been artificially created as an anagram from the word rota — the Latin word for "wheel".
Case even provides a unique example of the wordplay possible using the letters that make up the "tarot" term:
ROTA TARO ORAT TORA ATOR
which Case translates as:
"The Wheel of Tarot speaks the Law of Hathor (the Law of Nature)."
Even Case admits that this is a "rather barbarous Latin sentence". This association with the tarot and the rota, (wheel) however, is more widespread than one might imagine. Similar ideas extend throughout literature and sacred symbolism — even that traditionally associated with Catholic Cathedrals.
Share you thoughts, comments, and insights below!