The first time I ever laid eyes on tarot cards was 1968. In fact, it was the first time many Americans ever saw a deck of tarot because it was the first time it ever appeared on American television.
Can you guess where? It was the 1966 - 1971 daytime soap, Dark Shadows. The deck used in that episode is the deck shown above, the 1JJSwiss Tarot deck.
Four cards were referenced, which I have recreated in the aforementioned photo.
In those episodes (#368 and #369) A tarot reader read cards for Barnabas Collins. The reader was an incarnation of Grayson Hall, who most often played Dr. Julia. In this episode she was the Countess, a relation to his beloved Josette.
Several of the cards were laid out for a reading and the Countess Identified Barnabus as represented by the Magician. The Countess identified the lemniscate above the Magician's head as a sign that Barnabus would live forever. She then focuses our attention to the High Priestess (which in this deck is titled Junon) who the Countess identifies as Josette. Then she shutters, removes the cards from the table. She says placed next to Josette's card is The Wicked Woman. She exclaims that there is a wicked woman in the house. We never see the card representing The Wicked Woman and who knows which of the tarot cards was meant to represent her. Probably one of the reversed queens. The countess also points out La Mort, and La Maison De Dieu, more commonly known as: Death, and The Tower. As for the wicked woman in the house, we all know it was a reference to Angelique, the astoundingly beautiful evil nemesis of Barnabas. The woman (witch) who is responsible for cursing him and turning him into a vampire.
More than likely, this deck was used because the Rider Waite deck had not yet become available in the U.S. and this particular deck was the only tarot deck available in the U.S. at the time. This deck was originally published in 1831. The Rider Waite Smith deck, as it is more commonly referred to today, was not available for purchase in the U. S. until 1971 and the RWS deck did make later appearances on the show after the 1971 season.
I personally believe that Dark Shadows was the single most great influence in sparking interest in tarot to a whole new generation of young people who in turn are now the master elder readers of today, at least in the United States. I believe Dark Shadows is responsible for this country's renewed interest in tarot ever since.
I was ten years old when these cards appeared on TV, and I was glued to my set. Aside from being addicted to the show which I watched religiously with all my neighborhood friends, this show and these particular cards were my first initiation into the study and nearly life-long practice of tarot.
In fact, this 1JJ Swiss deck is the first tarot deck I ever bought and is the same deck which I used to photograph for this blog. It remains my sentimental favorite from among many dozens of tarot decks in my collection.
I did not begin reading cards at age ten, but that's when they were on my radar. I began reading and studying these wonderful cards in earnest in 1976.
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