One story is that the original tarot was used in ancient temples as a tool to know Divine Will. The priests didn't ask the tarot questions, they asked the gods to speak to them through the cards--"What did the gods have to say to them?" . However old it is and wherever it originated, the tarot is still an instant way to receive wisdom.
As a divination system, tarot cards are magical, practical, and anybody can use them. They can look into the past, see the very big picture; warn, state the truth of a situation, bring divine insight, and see the consequences of an action a person is thinking of taking. One of its most intriguing mysteries I witness daily, is that people with no experience can accurately tell a story about themselves through the cards. The tarot brings can bring out most peoples' inner knowing.
In October 2010 I spent a week researching tarot history at the Widener Library at Harvard. I was curious what scholars thought about the tarot and people who studied it. They have a vast store of metaphysical books in their labrynthine basement three floors underground. None of the tarot histories were conclusive about its origins and use. None were so inspiring as the story my metaphysical teacher Eric Teissedre told me about how they were used to commune with the divine, and that it was a portable ancient wisdom and all knowledge.
I use the Waite deck because its system of correspondences between the planets, colors, is closest to Nature's language.
(Nature's language: the color red is associated with the planet Mars which is associated with aggression, male energy, war, etc. Wave a red flag in front of a bull, and they'll charge. In the Waite deck, the Mars card (the Emporer) is the right colors for its meaning, with a red background.)
Elissa Heyman, Psychic Counseling and Spiritual Healing, in person/by phone, Santa Fe, NM 87501, 505-982-3294. firstname.lastname@example.org