Background On Tarot Cards

Tarot cards, used mainly for fortunetelling, are believed to have been introduced into western Europe by Gypsies in the 15th century. There is no consensus about their origin.

The pack of 78 cards includes 56 that roughly resemble a modern 52-card deck, divided into wands (clubs), cups (hearts), swords (spades) and pentacles (diamonds).

There are 22 additional pictorial cards, numbered from zero to 21, with allegorical images. Among them are Death, the Fool, the Devil, the Magician, the Hanged Man. Methods of determining the meanings of the cards vary greatly.

Many tarot enthusiasts say the Death card usually does not connote physical death, but instead portrays symbolic death -- a change or transformation.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)