Tarot de Marseille: How to work successfully with it

Tarot de Marseille

Tarot de Marseille
Photo by Le.Mat

The tarot de Marseille card deck is one of the most well known type of cards available. It is also one of the standard patterns from which many other forms of tarot have derived over the years. Some sources claim that the deck was invented in Italy around the 15th century and later introduced in the south of France, where in the 19th century it was given the name that it still bears to this day.
The structure of the deck is similar to many other types of tarot cards widely known throughout the world. It contains 56 cards in the 4 standard suits (pentacles, wands, cups and swords). This system was created to assist the mind in more easily interpreting the subtler meanings of reality. The only difference is that in the tarot de Marseille card deck pentacles are replaced by coins (“deniers” in French), most likely because of the controversial interpretations that the symbol of the pentacle has been subjected to in medieval Europe at that time.

There are also 4 court cards in each suit: a valet, knight, queen and king. Many occultists call these cards the Royal Arcana and state that the interpretation of their meaning requires a more intuitive approach than any other cards because of their profound and often flexible significance.

The drawings on each Marseille card are symbolic to the suite that the card belongs to. The wands are drawn for example as straight objects that form a lattice in higher numbers while swords are usually drawn as abstract symbols in curved lines and designs, sometimes placed around a fully rendered sword.

Here is a look at the cards themselves

While these type of  cards is one of the most popular one in history, many experts consider that it does not represent the best way for beginners to start working with tarot. The designs are usually much simpler than those found on more modern card decks. Interpreting the meaning of the Marseille cards therefore usually requires a better memory and a good understanding of the interrelations between the cards when appearing in various spreads.

However, studying the tarot de Marseille card deck will offer you an excellent advantage, when it comes to understanding the way that tarot can be used at a more profound level of intuitive perception. It will also help regular tarot readers learn to interpret the meanings of various spreads at a deeper level. Because many modern decks have derived from the Marseille cards, it can also help you gain better insight about the evolution of tarot throughout history.
Some argue that the difficulty in working with this deck can easily be overcome by simply practicing more. The fact is that, because of their more complex and suggestive design, modern tarot card decks can often implant a biased image in the mind of the reader when it comes to correctly interpreting the meaning of each card and this can sometimes get in the way of intuitive and prophetic insight. The Marseille deck is much less distracting from this point of view and has therefore been proven to show far superior results than many modern decks ever could.

Also referred to as the tarot de marsella in the Spanish language.

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