Jung and the Tarot

Jung classified people as extroverted and introverted types, but more importantly, from the point of view of the Tarot, further classified them according to four functions of the mind: thinking, feeling, sensation and intuition. In his final work, Man and His Symbols, Jung wrote:

"These four functional types correspond to the obvious means by which consciousness obtains its orientation to experience. Sensation (i.e. sense perception) tells us that something exists; thinking tells you what it is; feeling tells you whether it is agreeable or not; and intuition tells you whence it comes and where it is going."

He considered that, in each person, one or more of these functions predominate, and that the others require development through application if that person is to become whole. Jung put it like this:

"For complete orientation all four functions should contribute equally."

These functions can help enrich our understanding of the Minor Arcana:

Jungian Function Tarot Suit Element Colour
Intuition Wands Fire Blue
Feeling Cups Water Green
Thinking Swords Air Yellow
Sensation Pentacles Earth Red


Three of the attributions look exactly right, but does Intuition really correspond to Wands and Fire? Intuition as creative, perceptive insight and initiator of action fits the bill very well. Jung himself wrote, "Intuitions are not mere perceptions, or visions, but an active, creative process ....of the human mind, and it is in this sense that they contain secret doctrine, which is the realization by the few of truths embedded in the consciousness of all."

The occultist, Dr. Arthur Edward Waite expressed the following distinctly Jungian view of the Tarot:

"The Tarot embodies symbolical presentations of universal ideas, behind which lie all the implicits of the human mind, and it is in this sense that they contain secret doctrine, which is the realisation by the few of truths embedded in the consciousness of all"

Tarot History Fact Sheet

by members of the TarotL discussion group (http://www.egroups.com/group/Tarotl) (Mary K Greer, Tom Tadfor Little, Nina lee Braden, Linda Dunn, Mark Filipas, Robert V. O'Neill, Christine Payne-Towler, Robert Place, James Revak, and others)

Compiled and edited by Tom Tadfor Little


Many things (true, false, and speculative) have been written about the history of the tarot. This sheet addresses some oft-repeated statements about the tarot that may seem like historical fact, but are actually without basis in the evidence presently available. This is not to say that there is no room for speculative or non-factual stories about the tarot. Myths and lore express the human soul and creativity. These myths tell us much about the significance tarot has on an inspirational growth level. They speak an inner truth that is, at times, more personally true than external facts. However, both history and myth may suffer when the two become confused. The information given here consists mostly of conclusions that recent tarot historians have drawn from studying the evidence of written documents and cards that have come down to us. Other interpretations might be drawn from the same body of evidence. Readers interested in examining the evidence for themselves are drawing their own conclusions are directed to the references listed at the end of this sheet for useful starting places. Readers should also be aware of the limitations of relying on documentary evidence alone. Although written records are our most reliable contact with centuries past, they do not preserve everything that people thought or did, especially pertaining to an aspect of popular culture, such as the tarot.


TOPIC: The Waite-Smith Tarot

INACCURATE: The Waite-Smith (or "Rider Waite") Tarot is the original, standard, or most authentic tarot. CURRENT HISTORICAL UNDERSTANDING: The Waite-Smith deck was created in l909, making it a relative newcomer in the almost-600-year history of the tarot. A E. Waite was a prominent member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. The deck owes much of its symbolism to that group and represents a departure from the earlier French tradition. The artist, Pamela Colman Smith, contributed her own vision, especially in the innovative creation of fully illustrated scenes for the minor arcana. For many years, the Waite-Smith deck was the only one readily available in the US, so it became familiar to whole generations of tarot readers. There is actually no "definitive" version of the tarot. The well-known Celtic Cross spread, publicized by Waite as "an ancient Celtic method of divination" is also relatively recent, although it was not invented by Waite. Some things to be careful of when writing about tarot history. The terms "major arcana", "minor arcana", "High Priestess", and "Hierophant" are anachronistic when referring to the older tarot decks. The historically appropriate terms are "the trumps and the Fool" (the Fool was not usually regarded as a trump), the suit cards, "Papess" or "Popess", and "Pope". Likewise "pentacles" and "wands" are relatively recent substitutions for the traditional suit names of "coins" and "staves" or "batons". The original Italian titles of the cards were in some cases different from the later French titles (and their English translations) that have become familiar to us through the Tarot de Marseille and its descendants. Also, the ordering of the trumps varied considerably in Italy where the cards originated; it is not known which ordering is the earliest one. Even the number of cards in the deck varied a great deal! So care should be used in making statements about the original meaning of the cards based on the familiar titles and ordering. The intention of the original designer(s) of the tarot in selecting the symbols for the trump cards is unknown, although there are many conjectures, some more plausible than others. Writers should avoid giving the impression that the intention is known or obvious.

Sources and suggested reading: Decker, Ronald, Michael Dummett, and Thierry DePaulis, "A Wicked Pack of Cards" Dummett, Michael, "The Game of Tarot" Giles, Cythnia, "The Tarot History, Mystery, and Lore" Kaplan, Stuart, "The Encyclopedia of Tarot" Volume I & II Moakley, Gertrude, 'The Tarot Cards Painted by Bonifacio Bembo" O'Neill, Robert V., "Tarot Symbolism" Williams, Brian, "A Renaissance Tarot" Williams, Brian, "The Minchiate Tarot" Web sites: The Hermitage, http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit Andy's Playing Cards, http://www.geocities.com/a_pollett/ Villa Revak http://jwrevak.tripod.com/ Sources of the Waite-Smith Symbols, http://www.geocities.com/~ninalee//oneill/

For more information, please contact: information@tarotsociety.org Send all correspondence to: International Tarot Society P. O. Box 1475 Morton Grove, IL. 60053 Tel: 847-965-9916

Further information at www.tarotsociety.org