Tarot cards have intrigued and even scared people for many many generations. Others have used these cards for the incredible art of tarot divination or cartomancy. Methods for divination can be found in virtually all cultures ancient and modern. Even the Christians, whom generally look down on the act of divining for information, have several positive mentions of divination in their own holy book. Luckily if you don't want to learn how to do this for yourself you can easily find a free reading online.
While unlikely and disputed, it is usually said that the tarot originally came from the mystery schools of ancient Egypt. It is said that the gypsies, which literally means 'peoples from Egypt' brought the tarot with them when they came to Europe from Egypt. The tarot is usually associated with the Egyptian 'Book of Thoth.' This was further cemented when Aleister Crowley, the most famous occultist of the 20th century and possibly the most famous occultist ever, created a tarot deck named the Book of Thoth to go along with his heavily Egyptian influenced religion Thelema. Tarot divination, as long as other uses for the tarot, are a central part of the teachings of Thelema.
What recorded history shows is that tarot cards were originally created as a card game. Modern playing cards in the west evolved from the tarot cards. The symbolism was significantly cut down and the 22 cards of the major arcana, considered the more spiritual cards, were removed and the page and knight fused to become the jack. The first mention of tarot cards was in a manuscript reportedly written in 1425, however they didn't become popular to use as a tool for divination until the late 19th century with the formation of the Hermetic Order Of the Golden Dawn. Out of the Golden Dawn came many famous tarot decks but the most famous was the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Arthur Edward Waite, known usually as simply A.E. Waite, conceptualized this famous deck and fellow Golden Dawn member Pamela Coleman Smith created the imagery for this deck. This deck was unusual because it was significantly more illustrated than previous decks, which usually illustrated only the 22 cards of the major arcana. This became the most famous and common deck in the western world. It is still one of the top selling decks today and virtually all decks that came after it were heavily influenced by its symbolism. It is also the deck used by most beginners when learning tarot divination.