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What is the difference between the Tarot de Marseille and the Rider Waite tarot?

The two models have different origins and modifications in nomenclatures

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4 minutes of reading

The Tarot de Marseille is possibly one of the best-known models of the oracle to date. However, another also stands out: the Waite Tarot (or Rider Waite Smith Tarot). Both have very similar characteristics, as well as the number of slides, but differ from their origin to the complexity of interpretation. 

The origin of the Tarot de Marseille

There is no consensus on the origin of the Tarot, and perhaps the mystery is on purpose. In ancient times of harsh persecution of paganism, any magical instrument that could be disguised as a game, toy, or everyday object was most welcome. Thanks to this, although we cannot precisely confirm its origin, we have full access to this rich tool of self-knowledge.

The most accepted theory among scholars, elaborated by the British researcher Michael Dummett in the 80s, is that the Tarot was created in the 15th century in Italy and taken to France in the mid-1500s. Gothic style became popular in Marseille (Marseille), a city in the south of France where several card games were manufactured. When the deck was popularized in other European countries, it took the name of the city where it was perfected, becoming the famous Tarot de Marseille.

Being the first complete documentation of a Tarot, the Tarot de Marseille was the dominant model of oracular cards, alongside the Gypsy Lenormand deck (which has a different structure and another way of reading), until the creation of the Tarot Rider Waite (or Rider-Waite -Smith).



Tarot de Marseille

The Tarot Waite Template

After a cooling off in the European occult scene during the 17th century due to the Enlightenment, the 19th century brought the subject back in full force. Great scholars of spirituality are from that time, such as Alan Kardec, Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley and, for our particular interest, Arthur Edward Waite.

Member of the secret collective of scholars Ordem Hermetica da Aurora Dorada and author of several occult works, his most significant creation is undoubtedly his Tarot. Published together with a book of interpretations in 1910 by Rider & Son under the name A Chave Ilustrada do Tarot, it was based on the Tarot de Marseille.

Waite made several conceptual changes to the Tarot and enlisted the talent of his colleague and co-creator, artist Pamela Colman Smith, to create a deck of cards so accessible that it has become the most popular oracle in the Western world.


Rider Waite Tarot

Rider Waite Tarot vs Tarot de Marseille - many small differences

Due to its unknown origin, the Tarot de Marseille never had an official book of interpretations, unlike Waite's version. Thanks to it, anyone can consult the meaning of the cards, even without having a deck.

Both decks have the same volume and structure, containing 22 Major Arcana sheets and 56 Minor Arcana sheets. The Tarot de Marseille brings explanatory illustrations of the 22 Majors, while the Minors have only numerical representations, much closer to the playing deck we know (where the court cards are illustrated and the others are just numbered).

The Rider Waite Tarot, on the other hand, has all the cards illustrated, in which each of the 78 cards tells a story that is easy to understand. Despite being full of references to astrology, kabbalah and various other beliefs and mythologies that arouse the interest of scholars, this deck was designed to be distributed and popularized.

Some cards with a strong Christian influence, such as the Pope and the Popess, were renamed to the Hierophant and the Priestess. Waite lived at a time when the hegemony of Christianity was being strongly questioned, if not rejected, in intellectual circles. Death was once a nameless Arcanum, and the House of God became The Tower. The names of some suits were also changed in Waite's edition: Wands became Clubs and Coins became Pentacles (Diamonds, in Brazil).

The Arcana Strength and Justice originally cards 11 and 8, were reversed in Waite's version. There is no consensus on the reasons for the switch, but it is possible that Justice, representing balance, organically fit well in the center of the deck (the 11th of 22 cards), while the nature of Strength and its association with Leo suggested position 8 .

Rider Waite Tarot or Tarot de Marseille: which one to choose?

Despite some differences, the way to play both decks is the same. Both can be used in a variety of layouts, for any type of interpretive question, to see situations clearly, and to ask for advice.

Waite's Tarot is usually the most recommended for those who are starting out because even without memorizing the meaning of the cards, the images convey clues and feelings that allow anyone to focus enough to make a good interpretation. For that reason, we use the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot here at Astrolink.

The Tarot de Marseille requires a little more study to interpret the numbered cards, requiring more memory and experience. However, for readers who are more intuitive and don't want to be biased by images, this model can allow for many more possibilities.

Choose the Tarot that makes you most comfortable and allows your mind to flow through the meanings safely.


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quarta-feira fevereiro 21, 2024 | 11:04