Ramses: Tarot of Eternity - Giordano Berti and Severino Baraldi
“…all of the ‘Trionfi’ refer to fundamental episodes of the very long existence of the ‘living god’ User Maat Re Setep-en Re (Powerful is the truth of Ra, the Chosen One of Ra), better known as Ramses II (1302-1224 B.C.). The main wives of Ramses, as well as his most famous children, enemies, battles, etc. were therefore translated into ‘Trionfi figures’.”. – From the LWB

Based on the storyboard of Giordano Berti, the illustrations of the Ramses: Tarot of Eternity deck—painted by Severino Baraldi, a master of historical illustrations—concentrates on a well-defined Egyptian era. The father and son of Ramses begins and ends the Major Arcana, but the specific time period for the deck ranges from approximately 1304 B.C. (Sethi I’s ascension to the throne) and 1224 B.C. (the reign of Merenptah).

While the Majors depict scenes from this historical period, the titles follow common Tarot naming (e.g. Fool, Hermit, Temperance, etc.). However, the LWB provides the actual Egyptian names for the individuals (e.g. Aken-Aton, Khaemwese, Hathor-Nefertari, and so on.)

Unfortunately, as with most Lo Scarabeo decks, the wealth of historical references and connections behind Mr. Berti’s intent are lost since the LWB explains NONE of the illustrations. So unless you’re an expert on Egyptology circa 1302-1224 B.C., you’ll basically be lost as to what is happening in the pictures (except for the rare recognizable incident such as Moses parting the Red Sea on the Judgment card which is, incidentally, one of two "outside of time" cards.)

As usual, this is discouraging because the lack of information renders the deck useless for most readers, in my opinion. And it’s a pity, because I bought the deck with the desire to learn more about a specific period in history and how Mr. Berti connected these historical incidents with Tarot iconography. Although the LWB boasts that the Ramses: Tarot of Eternity is one of the few Egyptian-inspired decks that have a “soul” and artistic, as well as philosophic, coherence—I fail to see how one could recognize the historical congruence without explanations provided.

Some of the illustrations for this deck are outright stunning, notably the Moon card showing the gaping maw of a purplescent hippo in the foreground, with a moonlit sky, papyrus boats and (presumably) the Luxor temple at Thebes in the background. Because the LWB only provides the name “Opet” for this card, I did some research—and assume that this card refers to the annual Opet Festival (an unusual choice for The Moon card, actually, unless the connection is merely “travel by water”.)

The cards from the Ramses: Tarot of Eternity deck measure approximately 4-3/4 x 2-5/8 inches with fully reversible backings. Minor suits are Wands, Swords, Chalices and Pentacles, with the Courts following the Knave, Knight, Queen and King ordering. The LWB provides solid upright and reversed meanings as well as a nifty Eye of Horus spread, but there’s no mention of historical events save the names associated with the Majors.

If you love Egyptian themed decks, there’s movement and emotion galore in this one. However, those unfamiliar with the specific historical period represented by Ramses: Tarot of Eternity may find it challenging and disappointing—unless you’re willing to take up the challenge of researching the names connected with the Majors and attempting to fill-in-the-blanks regarding the Minor and Court cards.

Below are 12 images from this deck:

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