Newly published tarot and oracle decks arrive on Amazon, Etsy, crowd-funding platforms, and in bookstores every month. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks as well as published ones. Reviewing a deck is a subjective judgment intended to help readers determine if they want to own the deck.
The critical review of a deck for AskAstrology involves looking at the quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion book or booklet, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Tarot of the Nile by Uros Pajic from Dabrigh Publishing.
From the publisher:
The Tarot of the Nile takes you to Ancient Egypt, with glorious pictures of sphinxes, pharaohs, and mummies. Printed on heavy card stock with a linen finish, we use only the highest quality inks to show off each image on every card.
Inspired by the artistic depictions of the Old Kingdom and the time of the Pharaohs, artist Uros Pajic created a “modern/retro” deck that captures the simplicity and powerful messaging of ancient Egyptian art. The profile view of the head, face, and feet, with the front view of the body, was standard practice for thousands of years.
About Uros Pajic:
Uros Pajic has a BFA in printmaking and an MFA in drawing from the Academy of Fine Arts in Novi Sad, Serbia. He loves to create illustrative art, building scenes with defined contours, but not completely realistic. He likes to balance traditional and ethnic art with a sense of dream-like symbolism. He draws his inspiration from his experiences as a printmaker and illustrator.
Card Stock and Shuffling
Printed on sturdy card stock, these cards have a linen finish with curved edges. They are easy to shuffle, and a little slick when you first get them out of the box. They may slip out of your hands until the cards get some wear from handling and repeated use.
Artwork and the Visual Accessibility of the Deck
The artwork is done in a traditional ancient Egyptian form, which appears simplistic, but requires significant artistic skill to make the shading, dimensions, and backgrounds look consistent and expressive. The deck, like so many, borrows heavily from the Rider Waite Tarot and Pamela Colman Smith’s work. If you are familiar with the Rider Waite deck, this will be an easy deck to start using.
From the booklet:
Meaning: The Tower represents sudden, unexpected change that takes something we have built over time and breaks it down forcefully to cause us to start over or reset. The Tower, as an archetype, is the sixteenth encounter for the Fool, teaching the lesson that life is a construct and, at any time, it can be “blown up”, forcing us to make unexpected adjustments.
Symbolism: A pyramid is struck by lightning and two workers fall to their death unexpectedly. Even the most powerful structures can be reduced to rubble by nature, leaving humans at the mercy of the unexpected, even as they try to build structures to withstand the chaos.
Upright and Reversed: unexpected change, sudden catastrophe, and shocks to the system
9 of Cups
From the booklet:
Meaning: Embrace and accept what truly makes you happy. Your fulfillment is most important right now.
Symbolism: A regal woman sits on her throne, ready to share her abundance with others.
Upright: contentment, and self-satisfaction
Reversed: arrogance, and selfishness
7 of Pentacles
From the booklet:
Meaning: Time to consider how you will invest your success; put resources back into what you have that is successful, or start a new venture.
Symbolism: A man tends a bush of pentacles; his hard work has paid off, and he has plenty for himself and to sell.
Upright: long-term planning, and dedicated persistence
Reversed: lack of vision, and wastefulness
Explanation of the Cards
This deck does have a companion booklet that is very good; and the explanations include the meaning of the card, the symbolism, upright keywords, and reversed keywords. The Introduction states, “Reading Tarot cards can reveal insights into your past, present, or future. The premise is simple: the Querent asks a question, and then the Reader draws the cards and interprets the results.”
In the Tips section, “Pay attention to the symbolism in the artwork; the symbolism enhances and provides details to the meanings of the cards. Tarot cards are not deterministic and life is not fated. The future is never set. Querents can always alter their future by changing their course of action, changing their thoughts, or adjusting their feelings.”
As a professional reader, I can say that this deck is good for both personal and professional use; it certainly works for reading in public spaces. The artwork is different and purposely not “flashy,” making it visually appealing to a smaller audience.
I would recommend the deck for personal use, collecting, and general professional use. This deck is smartly drawn; on the plus side, even the most difficult cards do not feel as threatening as they are made to appear in other modern decks. The choice to simulate ancient Egyptian art makes the deck stand apart from most of the current Egyptian decks, which enhances its appeal.
The deck is quite good, visually-speaking. The art conveys the meanings in a consistent way, making almost no derivations from the Rider Waite compositions. The companion booklet that comes with the cards provides good explanations. The stiff card stock makes shuffling a bit challenging when the deck is brand new, but it will get easier once some of the initial slick sheen wears off with frequent repeated use over a long time. I give this deck four out of five stars.