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Egyptian Oracle
A product by Lo Scarabeo Egyptian Oracle

By: Lo Scarabeo
Imprint: Llewellyn
Specs: Boxed Deck | 9780738735030
English  |  128 pages | 4 x 5 x 1 IN
Pub Date: September 2012
Price: $19.95 US,  $22.95 CAN
In Stock? Yes, ready to ship
Qty:

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Summary:
The Egyptian Oracle Cardsbring the world of Ancient Egypt to life. The lively images allow an immediate connection with people from another place and time, allowing an easier understanding of the wisdom therein. Accented with matte gold metallic ink and shiny gold gilded edges, the cards are a visual treasure.

Review:
Having never been attracted to Egyptian style art, I was prepared to not be charmed by this oracle. Most Egyptian tarot decks and oracles incorporate, and quite reasonably, art that mimics ancient Egyptian art. I imagine that part of the attraction is that it is so exotic, so ancient, so mysterious that it easily transports users of such decks to another time and place, which is what I think a good divination tool should do. However, not all methods or styles work for everyone, which is why we are lucky to live in an era where there are so many options.

Perhaps purists will not like this deck for the very reason I do like it: the art is not strictly Egyptian. In a way it, but it is changed. It is as if the artist, Severino Baraldi, breathed life into the figures. They are animated. They are alive. They are human. I can relate to them. And yet, they are still very distinctly from another time and culture. But now I have a connection so that I can more easily receive their wisdom. It was a very lovely surprise.

But I get ahead of myself. Before diving in, we should consider the packaging, which is an important part, in my opinion, of an oracle deck. Whereas with tarot decks, I prefer to put them in my own bags or boxes, I like oracle decks that are self-contained so that I can easily keep the book or booklet with them. The box for the Egyptian Oracle is a sturdy box, embellished with gold foil that adds a decadent feel that is so appropriate to the theme of Ancient Egypt. It also includes an attached ribbon that makes retrieving the book and cards from the box very easy.

There are 52 cards, just like in a playing card deck. The cards are large, an excellent format for showing off the art, which we’ll get to in a moment. The edges are gilded with shiny metallic gold. The borders are very thin and are matte metallic gold. In each corner of each card is a small circle with a symbol. One is a number; the cards are numbered simply 1 – 52. One is a playing card symbol, such as the letter "A" and a symbol of a heart meaning the Ace of Hearts. Two are hieroglyphs, which more on this later.

The images show what one might imagine to be everyday life in ancient Egypt. We see a lover holding a picture of her beloved, a scholar studying, an assassin lurking in a dark corner, a family enjoying a picnic. The colors are a pleasing mixture of bright and muted with additional highlights of the same matte gold metallic that graces the borders. The overall effect is rich and inviting.

The booklet provides two spreads. For each card, general divinatory meanings are included as well as special words of advice.

The 2 of Hearts shows a very large temple with two guards on either side of the doorway. People are going in, it appears, with offerings. A woman in the foreground carries a large platter of orange fruit. The booklet says that this is Home: The Palace of the Great Priest of Hathor. It says, in part, that "our house must be a shelter for ourselves and those who are dear to us…. Places that in discord with our soul can become prisons or disease-carrying habitats."

The 4 of Clubs shows a woman exiting a fine home in a lovely dress carrying beautiful flowers. The booklet says this is: Friend: Trusted Friend, and goes on:

"Serenity in relations with a young woman. Even amongst our family we find both moral and practical support as well as serenity. Friendship is first of all to be given without waiting for reciprocity; those unable to give will see sincerity and womanly affection fade from their lives."

Advice: Try asking your best friend what she likes about you and what could be improved. Don’t be afraid of the answers since they are what will bring you closer to the person who gives them to you.

There is a lot to like about this oracle set. But there are some flaws. As my readers know, I prefer structure in my oracle decks—meaningful structure. While this set is structured on the playing card system of thirteen cards in four suits, there seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. I tried to determine if each suit related to a specific area of life or looked at situations through a specific lens. Perhaps that meaning is there and I just didn’t see it. Perhaps it is not really an issue for most people, who can enjoy and use the cards in any case.

Another issue that bothers me is the inclusion of the hieroglyphs. They are taken from Gardiner’s Sign List. The text for each card lists the catalog number for the hieroglyphs associated with the card. However, the names and meanings of the glyphs are not in the book. If you use a search engine, you can find the list on the internet for free, which I did. And I cross-referenced a few. They do make sense with the cards, but I am not inclined to use them since they are not handy in the booklet.

Ending on a positive note, I do like how the booklet points out how Baraldi used composition and color in a consistent way to communicate themes. Cards with dark colors include drama and tension. The presence of broad panoramas and animals indicate serene and lively atmospheres. Closed spaces (like temples) indicate phases of life.

While there are a few weaknesses, this oracle has many strengths. It can help teach about Egyptian culture and even, if you are motivated, hieroglyphs. The cards are lovely little treasures that show ancient Egypt in a fresh and new way. Anyone using the deck will find sound and useful advice and guidance.

Deck Attributes
Name of deck: Egyptian Oracle Cards
Reviewer’s Byline: Barbara Moore
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
ISBN: 978-0-7387-3503-0
Creator name: Pierluca Zizzi
Artist name: Severino Baraldi
Name of accompanying book/booklet: Egyptian Oracle Cards
Number of pages of book/booklet: Booklet 126 pp; 44 in English
Author(s) of book/booklet: Pierluca Zizzi
Available in a boxed kit?: Yes




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