Tarot of the Ages by Mario Garizio is a multicultural themed deck. This deck portraits people from five distinct cultures (Egyptian, Vikings, Aztec, Hindu, and African) in their native environment. It is an interesting collage of images inspired on these cultures.
These cards are 4.375" x 2.375", 0.375" smaller than standard US Games decks. These are easy to handle, but the image is really small on this deck (3" x 2"). People are depicted realistically, and as such, a lot of nudity is present.
The back of these cards is non-reversible. The image in the back is divided in three regions by white lines. The center region shows a multicolored wheel. A seven-pointed star comes put a small circle which holds a triangle inside. The top and bottom regions shows similar images, a circle holding a six-pointed star and a hebrew character inside. The top circle holds Aleph and is blue while the bottom circle holds tav and is red.
The Major Arcana are numbered at the top, in roman numerals starting at I with The Magician and ending at XXII with The Universe. On this deck, The Fool is XXI, and like in the Tarot of Marseilles, Justice is VIII and Strength is XI. These cards are labeled at the bottom, with an Hebrew character before the label and an elemental, planetary, or astrological symbol after. I was tempted to match these cards to the Thoth tarot but the order of the hebrew characters and the symbol don't quite follow.
The imagery on these cards is a mix of the Tarot of Marseilles, RWS Tarot and Thoth Tarot. A few examples are:
I. The Magician, VII. The Chariot, XI. Strength - RWS Tarot imagery
VI. The Lovers, XIII. Death, XIX The Sun, XX. Judgement - Tarot of Marseilles imagery
X. Wheel of Fortune, XVIII. The Moon, XXI. The Fool - Thoth Tarot imagery
The Minor Arcana are arranged in four suits: swords, wands, cups, and coins. These corresponds to the elements of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The background on each suit are consistent, evoking a theme specific to each suit. On the suit of swords, the ground is full of snow and the sky is blue. On the suit of wands, the sky is orange like in dusk. On the suit of cups, there is lush vegetation at the sides. On the suit of of coins, the sky are full of golden clouds.
The pips 2 to 10 are numbered at the top and labeled at the bottom. The Aces are labeled with their corresponding elemental symbol at the top and added elemental symbols to the label at the bottom. These cards are illustrated, focusing on the people but with a number of suit icons for each card. The court cards are labeled top and bottom in a similar fashion as with the Aces. These are Page, Knight, Queen and King.
The deck comes in a fitting box with a little white book (LWB). The LWB was written by Patrizia D'Agostino. It is written only in English, a weird choice for a "multicultural" deck, but the extra space is used effectively. The Major Arcana section includes the following for each card: Element Association, Key Phrase, Hebrew Letter, Image Description, Divinatory Meaning and Reverse Meanings. The Minor Arcana section include the following for each card: Image Description, Divinatory Meaning and Reverse Meaning. There is also a nice explanation of the symbolism of the image on the back of the cards. The last section, Divination with the Tarot, reveals how author feels the tarot should be used.
I must admit I was inclined toward a 4 stars rating until I read the LWB. LWB usually don't add value to a deck, but this one is a rare exception. At the end, I end up liking this deck more than my initial impression led me to believe I would. Let me end this review with a quote from the author, "Tarot is not a means to foresee the future ... Its purpose is to reveal the inner meaning of the present."