Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

A pack of exotically symbolic Cards, often credited with highly improbable ancient origins; it is extremely unlikely that Tarot cards existed before the development of pasteboard. Used in fantasy as a divinatory tool (see Prophecy) and a generalized magical prop, such cards may bear little relation to Tarot packs sold here and now: often they are entirely invented – with fanciful new suits and trumps – and called Tarot merely for convenience. Italo Calvino's The Castle of Crossed Destinies (1969) interestingly uses the "standard" Tarot as its medium of Story. John Crowley's alternative "Least Trumps" in Little, Big (1981) offer some tantalizing new Tarot-card images. Tarot Tales (anth 1989) ed Rachel Pollack and Caitlín Matthews (1952-    ) is a relevant anthology. [CB/DRL]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.