I'll admit to being one of those people who likes to stick with what I consider to be tried and true. For example, if I need a pair of shoes, I will usually hit Birkenstocks and purchase the same clogs that I have worn for years. I know what fits and what works for me - and I have the philosophy that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I'm the same with Tarot. I prefer using the Rider Waite. I'll deviate from time to time but inevitably, I will always go right back to RWS.
While I like the consistently good readings the RWS delivers, I have to admit that on occasion, I get into a safe comfort zone. It's not necessarily a bad thing but my Gemini brain demands a mental challenge. I recently gave myself a very good tarot workout when I got my hands on a new deck by US Games, the Brotherhood of Light Egyptian Tarot.
To say that this deck is out of my comfort zone is no small exaggeration. Nothing about this deck is the standard or ordinary for me! There are no familiar figures, symbols or words to guide my intuition. I had to really THINK when I worked with this deck.
The Brotherhood of the Light Egyptian Tarot is based on the book "The Sacred Tarot" by CC Zain. (You may want to purchase that book to go with this deck for the full scope of information contained within these cards.) This deck was originally designed by Gloria Beresford in 1936 - and were black and white. Vicki Brewer redesigned the cards and made them full color in 2009.
There are 78 cards like a standard tarot deck with 22 Majors, 40 Minors (Pip cards, not illustrated) and 16 Court Cards. But this deck has a few stark differences: instead of Wands, the suit is Scepters; some of the Majors have different names such as Veiled Isis for the High Priestess; the Fool is numbered 22 instead of Zero (he's also called The Materialist); and Pages and Knights are renamed Youths and Horsemen. This takes some getting used to and I found myself relying on the little white book often to find my way.
The deck is smaller than a regular tarot deck and fit nicely in my hands. Once again, US Games never sacrifices quality - this is a well made deck and shuffles very smoothly. The back has a reversible image that was inspired by the tradition of the "carpet page", pages of geometric designs that are part of a of insular illuminated manuscripts.
Each card is rich in color and symbolism. Kabbala, Astrology and Numerology symbols are on every card - but even with all the imagery, the cards remain stark and uncluttered, leaving the reader plenty of room to form their own interpretations. I found myself poring carefully and methodically over the cards with each reading. Between reading the interpretations provided by the little white book and adding my own insights, I ended up spending more time with each reading than usual. I was unable to just drop an interpretation as I normally do - I had to really work! While this may sound frustrating (and it times I'll admit it was), it was also a good challenge and I feel that ultimately this made me slow down and really study those cards - I could not rely on rote meanings nor could I just allow my instincts to take over. For a long time reader like myself, this was the kick in the pants I needed!
Here's an example: I asked the cards "what can I learn from this deck"? I pulled the Queen of Cups, 5 of Cups and King of Scepters (water, water, fire). The Queen sits serenely and regal on a throned with a moon base. Two eagles reside below her and Eyes of Horus (a symbol of protection) surround her. On the other hand, the image of the King shows a man driving a chariot with a fierce focus. He seems to be in full control, leading the horses with a forceful blow. The little white book interprets these three cards as: a person ruled by the sign of Scorpio, reserved and thoughtful; good fortune in love, responsibility; a person ruled by Aries, fiery, headstrong, ambitious. The abundance of water makes the King card weakened - this combination suggests that this deck will put a damper on my normally rapid fire method of reading. It will force me to be more reserved in my interpretations. In other words, it will bring RESTRAINT.
This deck will be especially appealing to fans of Egyptian art or magick as well as those who want a unique tarot deck to add to their collection. I would suggest this deck for advanced readers. Beginners may find it too difficult to work with. And to be honest, this is not a deck I would use regularly. This is the kind I would drag out when I feel stale and need a new perspective.
I give this deck One Sword Up, One Sword down because it will not appeal to everyone.