Tarot of the Agesages2.jpg (12659 bytes)
Review by Floris Wijers

If you are interested in purchasing this deck, click here.

The Tarot of the Ages was published in 1988 by US Games Systems. The deck
size is average (2 3/8'' x 4 3/8), it's printed in full colour and has
pictures on both the major and minor Arcana cards. It features people,
symbols and landscapes from various cultures. Most people are not or barely
dressed.
 
The deck comes with a booklet that provides some really annoying faulty
history, e.g. "One of the most significant messages of knowledge for the
Western world was and still is represented by the Egyptian Tarot, the Book
of Thoth, the book of true science" (page 2.). It gives meanings for
upright and reversed cards, and "comments in prophetic form" for each
Major.
Court cards have the alchemical symbols for air (swords), water (cups),
fire (batons) and earth (coins) on center top and lower right and left
corner of the cards. Majors have a roman number center top, hebrew letter
in the left corner and either an astrological sign or elemental symbol in
the right corner. The astrological attributions are quite puzzling (the
joyous, extravert and playful Leo for the Hermit?? Mars for the Empress??
Aries for the Hierophant?) and frankly I fear they have been given totally
at random without the slightest idea of the principles behind the
astrological signs.
 
Art
 
>From an artistic point of view this is a nice deck. The art is good with a
lot of attention paid to people's bodies. They're all finely drawn with a
lot of detail and soft but well-defined lines, bone- and muscle structure.
The artist must have a thourough knowledge and also love for the human body
and this shows throughout the deck. Colours are vibrant but not too harsh.
 
Major Arcana
 
Scenery and people from ancient Egypt make up the major Arcana. Strength is
XI, Justice is VIII.
The booklet provides us with "comments in prophetic form" for the major
Arcana cards. This actually proves to be some rather pretentious rubbish:
"The eye of the vision brightens, the holy baboon discloses the doors of
the temple of knowledge and leads toward the key of immortality. Blessed is
the Lords' Anointed! Adam Kadmon's feet again tread the desert. Nothing
exists but the Great Work" (page 7, about the Magician).
Apart from the egyptian setting, the pictures of the major Arcana offer
nothing new, insightful or exciting at all.
The Fool looks more like a dancing indian to me. He's about to cross a
small current of water. A lynx is grabbing his leg, a crocodile awaiting
him at the other side of the creek.
The High Priestess has nothing mysterious or secretive at all. She looks
like a woman with too heavy make-up on, who is sitting down tired from
shopping.
The Lovers card is highly traditional, with a young man standing in the
middle, a woman both on his left and right side and even good ol' Cupid is
hovering above his head to shoot his arrow. Up till this deck I had not
been aware that the Egyptians also had Cupid amidst their gods. Maybe this
image is kind of a compromise. It gives the scene an anachronistic feel
that is distracting the attention from the meaning of the card.
The Hermit has nothing egyptian and is accompanied by a snake. This image
(with snake) is also found in very old versions of the Tarot.
Judgment shows - off course - mummies rising up out of their tombs, the
white bandages rolling off.
 
Court Cards
 
The court cards have Kings, Queens, Knights and Pages. Every suit in the
minor Arcana in this deck features a different civilization. Swords are
represented by Vikings, Batons by Africans, Cups by Aztecs and East Indians
people the coins cards.
These cards are not bad at all. Once again, the art is good and some of the
symbolism is well translated in the civilisation of the suit.
The Queen of Batons carries a burning stick and touches a leopard behind
her. You have to get used to the image of a barely dressed, tattooed woman
from an african tribe represent the Queen of Batons but it's an excellent
exercise in cultural un-conditioning if you want.
The King of Swords is radiant with masculine strength, authority and
decisiveness. The winged helmet he wears and the two eagles that accompany
him add to the atmosphere of this picture. He must be terribly cold though
like all the Swords-people; naked in the snow.
 
Minor Arcana
 
The imagery on the minor Arcana is sometimes a stylized version of
Rider-Waite themes (i.e. the same picture, only rendered in the style of
the deck). In other instances, the pictures have been changed radically to
produce a new perspective. In the case of the Swords this works out pretty
well. The booklet offers no help, because card descriptions do not match
the meanings. Example from the seven of Swords:
Description: "You waste yourself in futility. Blind, unstable over frozen
prostrusions, you miss every stroke and squander time and energy in vanity
and meanness. Clumsy you are cutting blows, far away the targets, unreal
the prey. Your feet only get numbed"
Meaning (upright): "New plans. Wishes. Fortitude. Perseverance. Endeavor.
Hope. Confidence. Fantasy. Partial success."
In other words: Sort it out yourself.
 
Personal evaluation
 
I consider this deck as a curiosity myself and like it because of the
artistic quality. In contrast to so many other decks, the minors are more
interesting than the major Arcana that offers in some instances blank,
empty images and shows a forced attempt in combining ancient images with
Egyptian looks.
 
In the cases I have tried to work with this deck, I personally find the
biggest obstacle is the conflict between 'familiar' and 'totally different'
images on the minors. I also notice that the five different civilizations
don't really blend into one deck, so it feels as if you're working with
five different sets of cards.
This is certainly not one of my favourite decks. And I will repeat -
although I am certain this message already came through - that the booklet
accompanying the Tarot of the Ages is by far the worst I have ever read so
far.
 
Publishing data:
 
First published in 1988 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Art by Mario Garizio.
 
There is no book dedicated to this deck. The cards were used to illustrate
the 'Tarot Agenda' 1997 in The Netherlands, Europe.

See more images from Tarot of the Ages

If you are interested in purchasing this deck, click here.

Images copyright  (c) 1988 US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford, CT 06902, (800)544-2637, Fax (203)353-8431
 
Floris Wijers, The Netherlands
e-mail: floris@euronet.nl

Page Copyright 2000 Diane Wilkes