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The Tarot of the Sphinx

Designed by Silvana Alasia.

See pictures of this deck.

This deck has been around long enough to have spawned a remake – Nefertari’s Tarot, wherein the images here are all mirrored, and accented with gold foil, and a stunning black surround. It’s a Lo Scarabeo design, using Egyptian imagery to illustrate the Majors and Minors. Some cards bear a notable similarity to the Rider Waite deck, whilst others seem to drift away from what we would regard as traditional Tarot imagery. I would not think it would be an easy deck for a beginner, but a slightly more experienced reader would probably have little trouble with it.

The artwork is by Silvana Alasia, who was also responsible for the Egyptian Tarots published back in 1996. Her design style owes a lot to the Amarna period in Egypt. The 9 of Pentacles, for example, shows a Pharaoh offering prayers to the Sun God the Aten. One of the pentacles (all of which are embellished with ankh crosses) has the characteristic rays of like which terminate in blessing hands. Other cards show domestic scenes which describe given situations appropriate to the cards in question.

I really liked the 7 of Wands, known as the Lord of Valour in some decks. This card shows a ferryman poling a raft loaded with wands across the Nile. Just below the surface of the water a pair of crocodiles swim, open-mouthed and ever hopeful. That summed Valour up very nicely from my perspective.

The Lovers shows us a couple, embracing, gazing into each other’s eyes. Before them flies a falcon wearing the solar disk for a crown. He carries an ankh in his claws. There is a blessing in hieroglyphs on the card, which indicates the sanctity of the union.

The finish on the cards is of the excellent quality you would expect from Lo Scarabeo. One nice touch is that in places the designs appear worn, and slightly faded giving them an attractive aged feeling that I liked.

Most of the sumbolism is strongly in keeping with Egyptian tradition which is why I was a little surprised to find the goddess Isis on the Justice Major, rather than the more appropriate Ma’at – Goddess of order.

The booklet accompanying the cards is small, giving keywords interpretations for all cards and a layout called The Sword, a nifty and interesting 7 card spread.

Review by Jan

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