This Waite-Smith tarot deck is based on drawings by Pamela Colman Smith. Also known as Pixie, Smith was a British artist, illustrator, writer and occultist. She is best known for illustrating these tarot cards for Arthur Edward Waite.
The tarot is a pack of playing cards introduced between 1420 and 1440 in Northern Italy, it wasn't used for divination purposes until much later. It was originally known as trionfi, there were four suits with cards numbered one through ten and also court cards that included a queen, king, knight and page. The deck also included 22 symbolic picture cards that did not belong to any suit. They were used to play a game called Triumph and the game spread quickly to all parts of Europe. From the mid-1500s, people began referring to it as tarocchi, which is an Italian version of the French word tarot.
Followers of the occult discovered tarot cards in the late 1700s, they believed that the card imagery contained hidden symbolism, and therefore could be used as a divination tool. There is even a myth that the cards are part of an ancient surviving book from a great fire that burned the libraries of ancient Egypt, and they consider the cards to be hieroglyphical keys to life.
They are still used as regular playing cards throughout many European countries today, but in English-speaking countries, tarot cards are used primarily for divination. The history of tarot is very rich and draws on many facts, and some myth. It is important to know a little about tarot history, but it is more important to understand the cards and to concentrate on developing a relationship with them.