Nefertariís Tarots by Silvana Alasia                  Review by Lee A. Bursten

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Iím not usually a fan of Egyptian decks; I find them rather cold and distancing. But this one has become one of my very favorite decks.

When you first open the box, there is a great big "wow" factor. The figures on each card are placed against a background of gold foil. (Unfortunately, the gold foil doesnít show up on the scans. Where the scan shows muddy brown, what you actually see on the card is bright, reflective gold.) This might have seemed like a gimmick, but not in this case, because the foil has been stamped with an intricate circular pattern which gives the cards motion and depth. If you move the card slightly while you hold it, the circular bands of gold seem to pulsate with light for a psychedelic effect. And best of all, these are cards which you can see yourself in, both figuratively and literally.

Unlike most Egyptian decks, Silvana Alasiaís pictures are fluid and dynamic. The Hierophant is a good example, where Alasia takes what could have been (and usually is) a static scene, especially in Egyptian decks, and fills the composition with color, movement and drama.

Although the art is often lighthearted and whimsical, in The Wheel of Fortune a darker side emerges, as a bird-headed green lion tramples two humans underfoot.

My favorite trump card is The Sun, in which a single man kneels to the sun, which reaches toward him with rays ending in hands.

I had a problem with the Hanged Man, which, rather than showing a hanged man, shows a man about to strike a kneeling person, while an owl looks on. The Hanged Man has sometimes been referred to as The Traitor, so perhaps the picture shows a traitor being punished. Unfortunately the fold-out pamphlet, although well-written, does not explain the imagery on the cards, probably for reasons of space. Instead, there is only a divinatory meaning which sometimes seems to vaguely match the image and sometimes doesnít: "Disinterestedness, altruism, repentance, expiation. Inward research, utopia, art, detachment from material goods, moment of transition, punishment." This is one Lo Scarabeo deck for which I would love to see a book by the artist (hopefully in English).

This problem also occurs in some of the Minor Arcana cards, although for the most part they seem to follow the Waite-Smith tradition. The Minors are even more dynamic than the Majors. And best of all, there are many animals, which provide a great deal of humor and humanity, oddly enough, which would be missing if there were only those expressionless human figures.

The Ace of Wands shows a cheerful ox. In the Seven of Wands, a man does battle with gleeful crocodiles. In the Nine of Wands, an admirably courageous rabbit vanquishes a snake. My favorite card of the deck, the Eight of Swords, abandons humans completely; here a self-confident baboon strides along, unaware of or unconcerned about the crocodile on his back.

Silvana Alasia is a wonderful artist, and although I find several Lo Scarabeo decks to be more interesting from a collectorís perspective than for actual reading, I believe this one is eminently readable, as long as the reader is willing to take a little time to decide on meanings for those few cards where the meaning isnít apparent from the description in the booklet.

The booklet, by the way, contains an excellent unnamed six-card layout, which could be called Finding Your Goal.

I heartily recommend both this deck and its less expensive precursor, the Tarots of the Sphinx, which contains the same images, although reversed, but without the gold foil.

You can read another review of this deck here .

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

Nefertariís Tarots by Silvana Alasia
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo; US Distributor by Llewellyn Worldwide
ISBN #: 888395101-8

Lee A. Bursten has been studying Tarot off and on for about 20 years. He enjoys reading about Tarot and searching for the "Perfect Deck," which is always just around the corner but out of reach. He is very grateful to Michele and Diane for posting his reviews, and especially to his significant other, Larry Katz, for his superhuman patience.


Images © 1998 Lo Scarabeo
Review © 2001 Lee Bursten
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes










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