When I received the Rosetta Tarot “Papyrus Edition” in the mail, I was quickly blown away by breathtaking work that Mel Meleen had created. I was an instant fan of her work! Let’s just say, I didn’t put the deck down for several hours after that. The deck really caught my attention the second I opened the box and it still has me catch my breath when I take it out to use the cards.
The creator of this deck, M.M. Meleen, is also the creator behind the Tabula Mundi Tarot, another absolutely amazing deck. The Rosetta Tarot is a Thoth based deck and was completed in 2011. The cards were each created as individual paintings that vary in art mediums as I will discuss later in this review. The deck itself is filled with Golden Dawn heritage and stay true to the Golden Dawn color scales, as well as hieroglyphics that layer each card. Its guidebook, The Book of Seshet, is not only a guide for this specific deck but can be used with other Thoth based decks.
I’ve been working with the Rosetta Tarot for a while now and I have fallen completely in love with the imagery and art style presented on each card. It’s really hard to pick a few but I managed to narrow it down two three… otherwise, this review would quickly turn into a novel of me gushing about each card!
The first card that really caught my eye when going through the deck for the first time was the Tower card. This is not normally a card I am drawn to visually, but this one does it for me. It’s very similar to the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck, but it gives you a slightly different perspective and I quite like it! There is so much going on, from the dragon at the base of the card wrapping its tongue around the tower piece, to the dove flying straight out into the sun rayed sky. You can pick up the rapid energy of this card quite easily.
I’m not normally drawn to court cards in decks but in the Rosetta Tarot, the Queen of Disks is breathtaking. Visually, the Queen is wearing rams horns while sitting on, what looks to be, a large aloe plant in front of a dry, yet lively desert. There is something powerful and strong about this card that I adore and find inspiring. I consider the Queen of Disks as the life giver of the earth in Thoth tarot. Crowley describes her beautifully in the Book of Thoth:
“…represents the ambition of matter to take part in the Great Work of Creation”
Lastly, I present you with the 4 of Disks, another interesting interpretation! You have a locked door, reminds me of a bank safe, and whatever is behind that door must be worth a lot to someone. It leaves you with a bit of mystery and questions as to what is being locked up so tight, why and by who? Maybe it’s a large sum of money… maybe it’s a treasured book… maybe it’s nothing at all. Whatever it is, it’s not going anywhere fast and it appears to be under heavy security.
CARDSTOCK + SHUFFLING
Oh, how I love this cardstock! It’s a nice matte finish, perfect thickness that seems to take handling and shuffling quite well. I’m pretty brutal with my shuffling and I haven’t had any chips at all show in the cards, which is always a good sign.
While this is the special Papyrus Edition, there is also a gilded version of this deck that features a gold gilding border around each card image. The deck I have is the standard edition without gilded border, but I could only imagine how gorgeous the gilded is in person!
The cards measure roughly: 2.75” x 4.625”
The imagery of this deck is where the magic is! The entire deck was created as 79 individual paintings that were close to the original card size, that also includes the card backings. Mel stuck to the color scales created by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and that was a delight to see! What’s even more amazing is what she did within each suit. Each suit was created using a different medium represented by the element of that suit:
- Major Arcana (spirit) = acrylic paint
- Wands (fire) = colored pencils and acrylic
- Swords (air) = dry-point etching and acrylic
- Cups (water) = watercolor, water-based ink and acrylic
- Disks (earth) = oil pigments and acrylic
You may have noticed that acrylic was used in all the suits, this was to help tie in the “spirit” element of the Major’s and the overall look of the cards. I think what Mel did was brilliant and it adds yet another layer to these stunning cards.
Another really neat feature on the Rosetta Tarot Papyrus edition was the use of hieroglyphics! All the cards are written in hieroglyphs and the deck comes with a keycard on how to read them, which is actually quite easy. If you are familiar with the Crowley-Harris Thoth deck, the keywords on each card are the same. It’s a fascinating system and I find it pretty fun to work with, although listening to me sound out each hieroglyph sound is quite entertaining alone!
GUIDEBOOK + PACKAGING
The guidebook to the Rosetta Tarot, The Book of Seshet, is amazing! I highly recommend picking it up with the deck, it gives you so much more info than just the cards. You get a quick rundown of astrology and the qabalah, as well as great insight to the creative process behind the deck and the cards. I will rarely urge people to buy a separate guidebook, but in the case I promise you will thank me later!
My favorite part of the book is that you can use it with any Thoth deck, not just the Rosetta Tarot. While it does explain a great deal about the Rosetta Tarot cards, you can really apply the info given to other Thoth decks so it’s a great stand alone book even if you don’t own the deck itself.
In Egyptian mythology, Seshet is the lesser known feminine counterpart to Thoth. Hence the book was named “The Book of Seshet” and it suits this deck perfectly.
Psst… Be sure to keep a close eye on our website and social media, something is brewing in January with The Book of Seshet… I would suggest you grab your copy (and Rosetta Tarot deck, optional) before then and keep your eyes open!
The Rosetta Tarot Papyrus edition comes with several extra cards, one is the hieroglyphic key card, the other is an optional custom name card written with your name in hieroglyphics (I didn’t get that done, so mine just came blank) and the last card is just a title card with Mel’s signature and deck number.
The box that the deck comes in is simple, yet gorgeous! It’s a hard box with a lid featuring a gilded ankh and has a thick satin ribbon attached inside to help pull the cards out. It feels like pure magic when opening this box to use the cards. Mel’s presentation is beautiful and it’s truly a gift. I could go on and on about this deck, I highly recommend adding it to your collection!
You can find this deck, along with the book, other decks and prints that Mel has created over at her shop.
For sure check out the Rosetta Tarot’s website, there is so much info there and her blog is excellent!