The 20th century saw a resurgence of interest in tarot reading, particularly in the United States and Europe. This renewed interest was largely driven by the rise of the New Age movement, which saw the tarot as a tool for spiritual growth and self-discovery.
During this time, many new tarot decks were created, each with its own unique artwork and symbolism. Some of the most popular decks from this era include the Thoth deck, the Crowley-Harris deck, and the Osho Zen deck.
The Thoth Deck
One of the most influential tarot decks from the 20th century is the Thoth deck, which was created by occultist Aleister Crowley and artist Lady Frieda Harris. The deck was first published in 1944 and features intricate and highly detailed images that draw on a variety of esoteric traditions.
The Thoth deck is notable for its use of astrological and kabbalistic symbolism, as well as its incorporation of Crowley’s own philosophical and spiritual teachings. The deck’s images are rich in symbolism and can be interpreted in a variety of ways, making it a favorite of experienced tarot readers.
The Crowley-Harris Deck
Another influential tarot deck from the 20th century is the Crowley-Harris deck, also known as the Book of Thoth deck. This deck was created by Crowley and Harris in the 1930s, but was not published until after Crowley’s death in 1947.
Like the Thoth deck, the Crowley-Harris deck draws on a variety of esoteric traditions and features intricate and highly detailed images. However, the deck is perhaps best known for its use of color symbolism, with each card incorporating a unique color scheme that is designed to enhance its meaning and significance.
The Osho Zen Deck
In the 1980s, a new type of tarot deck emerged that sought to break away from the traditional imagery and symbolism of earlier decks. One of the most popular of these new decks is the Osho Zen deck, which was created by artist Ma Deva Padma and draws on the teachings of the Indian mystic Osho.
The Osho Zen deck features abstract and minimalist images that are designed to stimulate intuition and creativity. The deck’s images are often playful and unconventional, and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The deck has gained a following among those who prefer a more intuitive and free-form approach to tarot reading.
Tarot and Psychology
In addition to its use as a tool for spiritual growth and self-discovery, tarot reading also began to be used in the 20th century as a tool for psychological exploration and therapy. This approach, known as “tarot psychology,” uses the images and symbolism of the tarot to explore and understand the inner workings of the psyche.
One of the pioneers of tarot psychology was Jungian analyst and tarot enthusiast Sallie Nichols, who published the influential book “Jung and the Tarot” in 1980. Nichols saw the tarot as a powerful tool for accessing the unconscious and exploring archetypal patterns and themes.
Since Nichols’ time, many other therapists and psychologists have incorporated tarot reading into their practice. Today, tarot psychology is a respected field of study that is used by practitioners around the world.
Tarot and Social Justice
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using tarot reading as a tool for social justice and activism. Some practitioners use the cards to explore issues such as inequality, racism, and environmentalism, and to inspire action and change.
One example of this is the “Next World Tarot,” created by artist Cristy C. Road in 2017. The deck features diverse and inclusive imagery that reflects a wide range of social justice issues,
including police brutality, LGBTQ+ rights, and climate change. The deck is designed to inspire and empower marginalized communities to take action and create change.
Another example is the “Slow Holler Tarot,” which was created by a collective of queer and Southern artists in 2015. The deck features images that draw on Southern folklore and mythology, as well as queer and feminist themes. The collective behind the deck sees it as a tool for building community and fostering social change.
Tarot and Pop Culture
In addition to its use in spirituality, psychology, and social justice, tarot reading has also had a significant impact on popular culture in the 20th century. Tarot imagery and symbolism have been used in everything from album covers and music videos to films and television shows.
One of the most famous uses of tarot imagery in popular culture is the album cover for Led Zeppelin’s fourth album, which features an image of the “Hermit” card. The album is widely considered to be one of the greatest in rock history, and the use of the tarot card has become iconic.
Tarot imagery has also been used in numerous films and television shows. One of the most famous examples is the 1990 film “Wild at Heart,” which features a scene in which the character Lula (played by Laura Dern) receives a tarot reading. The scene is notable for its use of tarot imagery to convey a sense of foreboding and danger.
The 20th century saw a resurgence of interest in tarot reading, driven by the rise of the New Age movement and a growing interest in spirituality, psychology, and social justice. During this time, many new tarot decks were created, each with its own unique artwork and symbolism.
Tarot reading also began to be used as a tool for psychological exploration and therapy, and has since become a respected field of study. In addition, tarot reading has had a significant impact on popular culture, with its imagery and symbolism appearing in numerous films, television shows, and music albums.
Today, tarot reading remains a powerful and versatile tool for self-discovery, personal growth, and social change. As interest in spirituality, psychology, and social justice continues to grow, it is likely that the tarot will continue to play an important role in the 21st century and beyond.