The History Channel TV program Decoding the Past produced a 45 minute episode on the “Secrets of the Playing Card” (2006) featuring several well-known tarot historians like David Parlett,  Thierry DePaulis (A Wicked Pack of Cards) and Jean Huets (who was co-author with Stuart Kaplan on The Encyclopedia of Tarot). The  mystical, magical and divinatory aspects of cards begins around 18:00, the tarot around 24:45, and fortune telling at 32:15. There are lots of images of rare cards. Unfortunately, they keep showing modern replacements for missing Visconti cards to illustrate 15th century concepts. The Egyptian, Masonic and Templar role is played up, though they eventually admit that “these theories are generally dismissed by historians.” The images for the fortune-telling section feature the New Orleans Voodoo Tarot (shown over and over again) reinforcing the idea of tarot as a dark, scary medium that belies the far more sensible verbal commentary. They subtly misrepresented modern tarot readers in this part. All-in-all, this video is well worth viewing.

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