Pamela Colman Smith was the designing artist of the Rider-Waite Deck Tarot Cards. According to the box that the cards came in she was “under the direction of Arthur Edward Waite”. They were with the Order of the Golden Dawn and this particular deck came out in 1910. “Waite was able to restore in great part the original symbolic meanings that had been lost or changed in the passage of time. There are those who say that the symbols had been deliberately changed, in some cases to throw the Roman Church off the track and prevent the priests from appropriating the Tarot’s verities for their own purposes.”
“The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in England in 1886 as a result of the discovery and deciphering of some ancient manuscripts on occult initiation.” I do not pretend to know what this group really did, or how they thought along spiritual lines, but the word “occult” simply means: “to hide from sight, conceal”. Somehow Tarot and Qabalistic (also Kabalah or Cabala) Symbolism are tied together, and when we come to the Rider Deck, it may be more closely tied together than the average person realizes. (And I have serious doubts that people who read the cards for fortune telling have the slightest idea what the Cards are really even presenting symbolically.) What I mean by this is that there is a definite KEY CARD – the Ten (or X) of Pentacles (or Coins). On this card are ten pentacle coins and they are placed on the card in order to represent the ten Spheres on the Kabalah Tree of Life. This KEY CARD is useful in understanding the rest of the deck, for with its use you know what is placed on the card is found to be located for a specific sphere or a particular path of the Tree. So in order to really understand the symbolism of the Tarot one must become familiar with the Kabalah Tree of Life Matrix. I believe that this would take many years for someone to accomplish! I have not really wanted to dedicate myself to this particular study, but I do find it quite interesting.