Much more than a popular form of fortune telling, some say that a great and ancient wisdom is hidden in the mysterious images of the Tarot deck. In some circles, they are thought to be the sole surviving “book” from the great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt. Are they really hieroglyphic keys to the mysteries of life? Skeptical researchers say that is all just romantic delusion. They say that Tarot cards originated in northern Italy during the early 15th century and were used to play a game called ‘triumphs’, similar to bridge. Recent research shows that Tarot cards may indeed have a mysterious origin and may well have been intended as more than a simple game.
Directed & Written by
Executive Producer, Vision TV
Director of Photography
Title Design & Illustrations
Tango Media Group
Dan Johnston, Imarion Inc.
Kitchen Sync Digital Audio
Richard Hanet, Lewis Birnberg Hanet, LLP
Kay & Warburton
Richard Warburton, Kay & Warburton,
Stock Footage/Archival Visuals
Library of Congress, –
New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection
Library of Congress, –
Prints and Photographs Division
Marion E. Wade Center, Wheaton College
Mary Evans Picture Library
With Special Thanks To
Lon Milo DuQuette
Toronto Psychic Expo
The Morgan Library and Museum
US Games Systems
First, I should tell you that Donna and Daniel Zukerbrot have been friends of mine for many years. I first met Daniel when a Canadian television team made a documentary about Jeff McBride’s Mystery School gathering in the 1990s. Daniel, I should add, is also a very accomplished magician.
This film, TAROT, is from the Canadian television series, Enigma. Other films in this series include Jeff McBride: A Magickal Life, also directed by Daniel, and Max Maven: ‘A Fabulous Monster,’ directed by Daniel’s wife, Donna.
Having said all this, I am now very happy to report that I thoroughly enjoyed watching TAROT. It is beautifully filmed and is an intelligent discussion of the history and symbolism of the cards.
There is also some discussion on how the cards are used today by various practitioners. I particularly enjoyed Daniel’s questioning of James Wells, a “Tarot Consultant,” as they consulted the cards together about the making of the documentary. Basically Daniel asked why certain things symbolized certain other things. Wells basically explained that in his system these were the correlations – and that there were other systems with other correlations. Fascinating, indeed, but it does rather set one adrift, doesn’t it?
For audiences of magicians, there is a special treat: appearances by Jeff McBride and David Ben.
Well, which came first? The Tarot cards or playing cards? Since the 1800s, most people have argued that Tarot cards came first and playing cards followed. Not only did the Tarot cards come first, the images on the cards are symbolic of deeper meanings. Jung, we learn, felt the images were archetypal
Lately this view is being challenged and significant numbers of scholars now seem to believe that playing cards came first and Tarot cards followed – not as objects for divination and foretelling the future but to be used in a new card game of the day. The images on the cards, in this view, are less meant to be symbolic or mystical and much more to be simple images common to everyday life in 1400s. This is the view articulately argued in TAROT by several people.
If you have any interest in the Tarot, whether long-standing or if you are new to it all and just curious, I think you will both genuinely enjoy as well as learn from this documentary. I did and I highly recommend it.