Rosetta redux: the Papyrus edition

My first tarot deck, before Tabula Mundi, was called the Rosetta Tarot and was published in November 2011. I currently still have some pocket size versions in a tin for it, both with the card bank design (a version of a rose cross) on the tin, or a custom tin with either your choice of card or the Stele of Revealing, front and back, on the tin.

Pocket size tarot decks are perfect for the technique of portable magic as outlined in Donald Tyson’s book of the same name. I can attest to the effectiveness of the techniques he describes. He says “tarot is the only tool you need” and mentions that the best decks to use for the process are both smaller in size, portable, and brightly colored to assist in visualization. It seems like the bright flashing colors make the necessary visualizing so much easier. So Rosetta-in-a-tin fits the bill. Indeed it should as that is why I created it. I was so enthralled at how well it worked when I used the portable magic technique using regular size Rosetta that I really wanted it in a pocket size in a portable tin for myself.

The tins are ribbon lined in scarlet red or midnight blue. These were printed in a small edition of only 555 decks because most people prefer larger cards. The edition is approaching it’s last quarter. I’m not sure that I’d print them again just because more people seem to prefer larger cards.

Since the full size edition sold out several years ago, I’ve had a steady stream of people emailing me looking for the full size edition and asking if I’d ever consider doing a reprint. Over the years I’ve said, yeah, possibly, someday, not sure when…I wanted to do a version for the five year anniversary this past November but was too busy with the launch of Tabula Mundi tarot and the daily grind.

I don’t want to change the art; it is what it is and though my skills have improved I like it and think it is a moment in time to preserve. If I do another edition though I’d like something to be different, so I asked myself what I would change.

I would not change the rose card backs, they are perfect. But I’ve always sort of regretted doing the black borders. While they did offset the bold colors perfectly and I like the way they look, black borders tend to show wear especially in the unlaminated style I prefer.

In messing around with it, I decided to try a version with a very different look. I have some authentic Egyptian papyrus and really cool walnut based ink. How cool would it be to have the card names hand written in hieroglyphs? Not only would it be perfect for the deck called Rosetta tarot but it would also make the card names, both of the Major Arcana and the Minors with their (Lord of) xxxxxx titles more mysterious. No longer will a sitter see the word “Failure” or “Ruin” as the word will be written phonetically in hieroglyphs. There will be a number and suit indicator probably, plus once you learn the hieroglyphic alphabet it is easy to sound them out phonetically.

For the Majors, at the top of the card I’ve put the Roman numeral. Below the image, the card name will be written in hieroglyphs enclosed in a cartouche. Which is appropriate as cartouches are for royalty and god names, which the card forces certainly are.

For some cards, in Egyptian writing there is a logogram symbol that indicates the name of the card. These logograms are followed by a vertical stroke. This only applies to a few major arcana who happen to have a name that there is one symbol for: the Sun, the Moon, the Star. Possibly the Universe.

Like this, for the Sun, Moon and Star:

 

For cards without logogram, I will use the phonetic method, where the letters are written out based on the symbols for the sounds. In the ancient Egyptian manner some vowels, usually the “short” vowels, will be skipped unless they contribute to the sound of the word as in falling at the beginning or end of the word. Vowels with a long sound usually influence pronunciation so will be written.

 

Here are a couple of examples, the Fool and Hierophant:

For the minors, I’m considering options. The Egyptians had a series of strokes or dots for numbers, which I will probably put at the top of the card in addition to a suit indicator symbol. The Egyptians had symbols for fire, water, air and earth so I will probably use those though I could use alchemical symbols. The name ie “Dominion” for the Two of Wands, would be written in hieroglyphs phonetically. Here are some examples of the minors I’ve done to date. For the Ace of Wands, which in the first edition had the words “Root of Fire” on it, I’ve used the Egyptian glyph for per, meaning “coming forth” and the glyph for fire. Which I think captures the spirit of the Aces well, “fire coming forth” having the appropriate nascent energy. The other Aces will be done similarly but with the per glyph combined with the glyph for their element. For the other pip cards, at the top of the card will be the appropriate dot indicator for number, along with the Egyptian element glyph: a brazier for fire, waves for water, a sail for air, and a plot of land with plants growing, for earth. As in the Thoth deck at the bottom, the word for the card that comes from the card’s formal “Lord of” title will be written phonetically in the cartouche.

   

At least this is a current thought; things can change and I’m open to feedback. I could also just do the papyrus background with the names written in English in the cartouche in a nice font. It sure would save a lot of time, and be immediately clear, but I love the look of hieroglyphs and think they serve the purpose too. So I’m willing to do the big job of hand inking them if people like the idea. And maybe I’ll just do it anyway because I like the idea.

Luckily all these years of making the customized significator cards for people has paid off, as I’ve written so many of these I know the phonetic hieroglyphs by heart! I’m writing these with a calligraphy dip pen though so it takes time to get them right.

My other wish is to have the thin border around the image, instead of being the walnut ink color as shown above, be done in gold foil. But that may be a pipe dream as foiling is very expensive.

If you are interested in either a full size Rosetta or Book of Seshet, please email me and put “rosetta” in the tagline. I’m not sure if people would be into pre-ordering and if I’ll bother with that, but if you are please say so as it may make the difference between getting the foil or not. It would at least be good to know how many would be interested once these are ready, as printing is expensive and I’m not sure if I can do this if there isn’t interest.

I also want to include a redesign of the customizable significator card, where one’s own name can be written in hieroglyphs, so that it has the same papyrus look.

If you have comments or questions, or want to get on the list for these, feel free to email me to ask mm(at)tabulamundi( dot.)com  and put “rosetta” in the subject line.

16 thoughts on “Rosetta redux: the Papyrus edition

    1. Hi Taina,
      Sorry but the first edition Rosetta with black borders has been sold out for some time, and the new edition has papyrus colored borders. The pocket size edition in a tin has black background but is smaller, and that edition is also going to be sold out soon.
      M

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