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If you have questions about TABI and the services we offer that are not answered elsewhere on this website, you may find the answers here, together with some basic information about Tarot.

If you’d like to ask a question, please email membership@tabi.org.uk, or visit our contacts page.

Click the section of interest:

The History of TABI

The ‘official’ launch date for TABI was in June 2001 after a period of gestation of two and a half years. The date was chosen carefully by one of TABI’s in-house astrologers. TABI has thrived ever since.

Tarot in General

The information in this section is basic and based on the associations of one of the most well known decks, especially in Europe, the Rider Waite [or Rider-Waite-Smith]. It’s not the only set of associations you can use, but it is popular and used as the basis for a wide range of decks.

  • Is tarot evil?
    No, it’s just a deck of cards. It’s what you do with it that counts.
  • Does getting the Death card mean you’re going to die?
    No, 13-Death is not about physical death. In general it’s about change or the possibility of change.
  • How many cards are there in a tarot deck?
    There are 78 in a standard tarot deck, 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana. The Minors include aces and court cards for each suit along with 10 pip cards. Pip cards are the number cards from 2 to 10 and the Aces.
  • What does ‘Arcana’ mean?
    Secret or hidden.
  • What’s the difference between the Major & Minor Arcana?
    In general the Major Arcana, [from 0-The Fool to 21- The World/Universe] represent the big issues, things beyond our control, and the Minor Arcana represent everyday, though not necessarily less important, issues.
  • What are the tarot suits?
    PentaclesVariations abound.
  • What are the elements associated with the suits?
    Wands – Fire
    Cups – Water
    Swords – Air
    Pentacles – EarthCups and Pentacles usually stay the same; Wands and Swords are more often swapped round depending on the deck, as some people prefer Swords – Fire and Wands – Air.
  • What do the suits/elements represent?
    Very basically, things like:
    Wands – Fire: Creativity, action, passion, and willpower.
    Cups – Water: Unconscious, emotions, joy, and grief.
    Swords – Air: Ideas, thought, precision, intellect.
    Pentacles – Earth: Material things, nature, and community.
  • What are the star signs associated with the suits?
    Wands – Fire – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
    Cups – Water – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
    Swords – Air – Libra, Aquarius, Gemini
    Pentacles – Earth – Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo
  • What are Court cards?
    KingCourt cards are part of the Minor Arcana; each tarot suit has 4 court cards. In general they often represent people or character traits, but that’s not all there is too them. For example a Page can mean a message you will receive or need to take note of.And again, variations abound.
  • What are the meanings of the cards?
    The Internet has lots of tarot resources available to anyone who’s interested in learning more about the cards. You can take TABI’s Tarot Course based on Joan Bunning’s Learn the Tarot. On our course you’ll have Mentors who will help you work through the exercises and more.Joan Bunning’s site also has a full list of cards and their meanings based on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck associations if you’d like to go directly to the cards.For further information, deck and book reviews, here are a couple of well know tarot websites to start your search:
  • And don’t forget to check out  our list of TABI members who are professional readers and our Free Readings Service.

Tarot History

1442 The purchase of “Triumph Cards” is referred to in documents belonging to the Este Duchy of Italy. Several cards from 30 of these decks are held in museums and private collections throughout Europe and the USA. They are usually referred to as the Visconti or Visconti-Sforza cards as they were originally purchased by the Visconti-Sforza family of Milan and the Este family of Ferrara.

1460 An anonymous engraver in Ferrara devises a new deck known as Mantegna Tarot cards.

1534 In Rabelais’ Gargantua, the author lists Tarot as one of his favourite games.

1570 In Discorso perche fosse trovato il gioco del tarocco, an anonymous author refers to the Tarot and suggests that the cards are useful for understanding the miseries of life and for getting closer to God.

1660 The Parisian engravers, Jean Noblet and Jacques Vieville, print a Tarot deck which becomes known as Tarot of Marseilles.

1781 In the 8th volume of Monde Primitiv, Antoine Court de Gebelin declares that the Tarot originated in Ancient Egypt.

1784 Using the name Etteilla, a Parisian esoteric called Jean Francois Alliette publishes Maniere de se recreer avec un jeu de cartes nommees tarot. In this publication he supports Antoine Court de Gebelin’s opinion that the Tarot originated in Ancient Egypt. Alliette then devises his own Egyptian-inspired deck which he refers to as a manual of magic and fortune telling.

1856 Under the pseudonym Eliphas Levi, Alphonse Lois Constant publishes Dogme et rituel de la Magie in which he criticises Antoine Court de Gebelin and Alliette’s beliefs in the origins of the Tarot. Levi suggests that the Tarot was designed by ancient Jewish cabalists and has no connection with Ancient Egypt.

1863 Writing under the name of Paul Christian, Jean Baptiste Pitois writesL’Homme rouge des Tuileries. In this publication he sets out a complicated esoteric system based on the Tarot.

1871 Paul Christian writes Historie de la magie in which he describes Tarot-type images being used in an imaginary Ancient Egyptian initiation ceremony.

1885 William Westcott, a founder of The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, composes the Magical Ritual of Santum Regnum. This is a manual of magic based on Tarot and Wescott attributes the book to Elipas Levi.

1889 Gerard Papus Encausse publishes Le Tarot des Bohemiens in which he describes the 22 Major Arcana cards as representing Adam’s fall from grace in the garden of Eden and man’s return to paradise.

1909 Encausse publishes Le Tarot Divinatorie, a manual containing a new deck of Egyptian-themed cards designed by Gabriel Goulinat.

1910 A. E. Waite, head of one of the factions of The Golden Dawn, publishes The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. A Pre-Raphaelite deck, designed by Pamela Coleman-Smith accompanies the book.

1912 Aleister Crowley, in the magazine The Equinox, reveals that the Tarot are the secret ‘Liber T.’ mysteries given to the initiates of The Golden Dawn.

1927 Oswald Wirth publishes Le tarot des imagiers du moyen age. This is a summary of the various French interpretations of the Tarot. The book is accompanied by a new deck designed by Wirth in which he blends Cabala, Astrology, Alchemy and Freemasonry with Tarot.

1944 Aleister Crowley publishes The Book of Thoth. This contains images of a new deck designed by Frieda Harris to Crowley’s specifications.

1980 Dozens of new decks are now published every year bringing the total number of different decks now available to over 1,000.

2001 The Tarot Association of the British Isles (TABI) is founded.

[For more information on the origins and history of the Tarot, see the
Timeline of the Occult and Divinatory Tarot, (from 1750 to 1980), and


[See Our Membership Page for further information]

Who runs TABI?
[See Our Contacts Page for a list of admin emails]

An elected Panel of TABI member.

Do Panel members get paid?
No, TABI is a non-profit organisation run by dedicated volunteers who are tarot enthusiasts.

What do I get for my membership fee?
A full list of benefits is provided on our membership page.

Why doesn’t TABI allow members under 18?
We are on the internet which is available to a host of different countries, there’s no way TABI could accommodate all the laws of these countries in relation to young people, we can’t even accommodate the ones in the UK on or offline as the whole thing is so complicated!

I’m not based in the UK – can I still become a member of TABI?
Yes, TABI welcomes members from all over the world who share our values. We have members as far afield as the USA and Australia! Although we have UK meet-ups from time to time, we work mainly on the TABI forum, which means that anyone can join in the conversation at any time.

Free Readings Service

Visit our Free Readings Request page to apply for a reading]

Are the Free Readings automated?
No, readings are allocated via our system to real people.

How long does it take to get a free reading?
We aim to complete and return readings within 3-5 days.

How many cards will you read for me?
The usual spread is 1-3 cards, though occasionally this is exceeded if the Reader feels it’s warranted.

Why won’t TABI do 3rd party readings?
That would be like reading someone else’s mail. Besides, there would be no genuine give and take between the Reader and party in question which could make the reading ineffectual.

Who can I contact if there’s a problem with my Free Reading?
Free Reading Admin: fr.monitor@tabi.org.uk

Why am I only allowed one free reading per month?
Our service is very popular so we try to give as many people as possible a chance to use it and repeat readings can confuse the issue.

Why won’t TABI read for people under 18?
Many Readers don’t feel comfortable reading for children and it would be too difficult to verify parental consent via the internet.

Do TABI Free Readers get paid?
No, the Free Readings Service is staffed by dedicated volunteers.

Do you have to be a member of TABI to be a Free Reader?
Yes. If you leave TABI you can no longer work for the Free Readings Service.

How can I become a TABI Free Reader?
You need to be a member of TABI to become a Free Reader. Check out the process and requirements here.

What about Endorsement?
[See Our Endorsement Page for further information]

We can only Endorse members of TABI who are also Free Readers and who have completed at least 25 mentored readings. We are working on a way for members of TABI to keep their Endorsement if they need to take a break from the Free Readings Service.


[See Our Contacts Page for a list of admin emails]

How can I help TABI if I’m not a Free Reader?
Attend offline events with/for TABI, participate in the forums and e-groups, write for/suggest ideas for the e-magazine, donate money or tarot related items for prizes TABI can allocate, offer discounts on goods to TABI members if you have an esoteric shop or run a course, suggest ideas on how TABI can be improved, help out with admin, stand for the Panel [but only if you can commit to it long term], if you’re an artist do some tarot related artwork and submit it to the Panel for use on the website or even merchandising at some point, renew your subscription when the time comes, advertise TABI on your website and tell your friends.

All ideas are welcomed and considered, just post to the exclusive members only TABI Yahoo e-group or directly to a member of the Panel with your proposal etc, we’d love to hear from you!

Tarot Course

[See our Course Page for further information]

Do you have to be a member of TABI to do the Tarot Course?
Yes, the course is for members only.

Who runs the Tarot Course?
Experienced Tarot readers from within our membership.

Do I get anything when I finish the Course?
You will end TABI’s Tarot Course with an increased knowledge of tarot and a sense of achievement.


If you’d like to make a donation to TABI there are three ways you can help:

  • PayPal – if you have an account send your donation to treasurer@tabi.org.uk. Don’t use the button on our Membership page as it sets up an automatic yearly subscription payment to TABI.
  • Nochex – visit our Membership page and click on the Nochex button and follow the instructons. You don’t need to have an account with them to use this option.
  • Cheque – Send a cheque, made payable to TABI to:

TABI Treasurer
PO Box 4791
S6 9FE