What Is The History Of Tarot Card Readings in the United States?

Posted on September 19th, 2023

The mystique of tarot cards has intrigued and enchanted individuals for centuries. 

These beautifully crafted cards, rich in symbolism and layered with meaning, have been a guiding tool for many seeking clarity, direction, or simply a glimpse into the unknown. 

While many are familiar with the allure of a tarot reading, fewer dive into the intriguing history of tarot cards, especially in the context of the United States. Just as every card tells a story, so too does the journey of tarot in America. 

As we embark on this exploration, we'll uncover not only the roots of this spiritual practice but also its transformative evolution. 

So, what is the history of tarot cards, particularly in the US? Let's dive in and journey back in time to discover the captivating tale of tarot's inception and growth on American soil.

Origins of Tarot Cards: A Glimpse Beyond the US

Before diving deep into the history of tarot cards in the US, it's essential to have a broader understanding of its beginnings. Tarot's origins can be traced back to the European continent, where they began not as mystical tools, but rather as playing cards in the 14th century.

From Playing Cards to Spiritual Tools

In places like Italy and France, tarot cards, originally referred to as 'tarocchi' or 'trionfi', were popular for games. It wasn’t until the 18th century that they took on a more spiritual significance. Mystics and occultists began interpreting the cards' symbols, weaving narratives that went beyond mere games, giving birth to the practice we recognize today.

The Journey to America

By the late 19th and early 20th century, tarot cards began their voyage across the Atlantic, carried by European immigrants and enthusiasts. As the cards touched American shores, they began to mingle with the country’s diverse cultures and spiritual practices, setting the stage for a unique American tarot evolution.

The History of Tarot Reading

Every art form and spiritual practice carries a history, a narrative that explains its growth and transformation over time. The history of reading tarot cards in the United States is no exception. The country's melting pot culture played a significant role in shaping the way tarot readings have been perceived and practiced.

Early Adoption and Adaptation

In its infancy in the US, tarot was primarily a niche interest, appealing mainly to those with ties to European traditions or those deeply involved in esoteric studies. However, as more people began to discover its potential as a tool for introspection and guidance, tarot gradually made its way into the mainstream.

The 1960s: A Period of Spiritual Renaissance

The 1960s and 70s marked a period of spiritual awakening in the US. New Age movements and the counter-culture revolution brought esoteric practices, including tarot, to the forefront. The deck designs started to diversify, incorporating various cultural, spiritual, and artistic influences, reflecting the zeitgeist of the era.

The Role of Tarot in American Pop Culture

Beyond its spiritual significance, tarot has also made its mark on American pop culture. Today, when you think of tarot cards reading, images of a mysterious fortune teller at a carnival or scenes from a suspenseful movie might come to mind. This integration into mainstream media has played a pivotal role in its popularization.

Tarot in Film and Television

Movies and TV series have often showcased tarot as a tool of prophecy, mystery, or even danger. Whether it's a climactic reading that predicts the protagonist's future or an eerie scene setting the tone for a supernatural thriller, tarot cards have been versatile props in visual storytelling.

Celebrities and the Modern Tarot Movement

Many celebrities have expressed their affinity for tarot, further driving its appeal. From interviews where stars discuss their readings to social media posts showcasing their favorite cards, the influence of prominent personalities has solidified tarot's place in contemporary culture. It's no longer just a spiritual tool; it's a cultural phenomenon.

Reading Tarot Cards: The Art and Science

The depth and complexity of tarot transcend its pictorial representations. For many, it's not just about predicting the future, but understanding oneself better, gaining insights, and finding guidance in life's challenging moments. The art of reading tarot cards is a dance between intuition and knowledge, symbolism and interpretation.

The Symbolism Behind the Cards

Each card in a tarot deck, be it from the Major Arcana or the Minor Arcana, carries a world of meanings. These symbols can represent different life stages, emotions, experiences, or challenges. For instance, while "The Fool" might represent a new beginning or an adventurous spirit, "The Tower" could symbolize unexpected upheaval. Recognizing these symbols and interpreting them in the context of a reading is crucial for any tarot practitioner.

The Intuitive Connection

While understanding the symbolism is essential, reading tarot cards also requires a deep connection with one's intuition. It's this intuitive link that often guides a reader to pull a particular card or interpret a symbol in a specific way for an individual. This blend of knowledge and intuition is what makes every tarot reading unique and personal.

Tarot in the Digital Age

As we continue our journey through the modern age, technology and spirituality converge, leading to a new chapter in the history of tarot cards in the US. The digital realm has expanded the horizons of tarot, making it more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Online Platforms and Virtual Readings

Platforms like Alkemy Soul Elements have harnessed the power of the internet to offer tarot reading services to those who might not have access to in-person readings. Whether you want a deep, 1-hour tarot reading session or a quick, 30-minute reading, the digital space provides the flexibility and convenience that today's seekers desire.

Apps and Digital Decks

Along with online tarot readings, the emergence of tarot apps and digital decks has revolutionized the practice. Now, anyone with a smartphone can pull a card, delve into its meanings, and even keep a journal of their readings. This digital evolution, while maintaining the essence of tarot, showcases its adaptability and relevance in the 21st century.


The captivating journey of tarot cards, from their European origins to their dynamic evolution in the US, reveals a tapestry of cultural, spiritual, and technological influences. These cards, though ancient, have seamlessly woven themselves into the fabric of modern American life, adapting to every era's unique challenges and sensibilities. Their presence in popular culture, coupled with their profound spiritual significance, makes them a versatile tool for introspection and guidance. 

Whether you're seeking clarity, hope, or simply an understanding of the world around you, tarot offers a mirror to your soul. As we reflect on this rich history, it's evident that tarot's legacy in the US is not just about predicting the future, but about connecting with our innermost selves. 

For those intrigued by this art and wishing to discover more, remember that the journey of discovery is just a card away

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