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Home > Books & Reviews > Decks > The Book of Thoth Search

Tarot Deck Review:
The Book of Thoth

Designer: Etteilla
Card Set
Publisher: Llewellyn (Lo Scarabeo)
Publication date: 2003
ISBN: 0738704105
View Sample Cards
Price & More Info: Click Here


In the late 1700s, a card reader who went by the name of Etteilla designed a Tarot deck which he claimed was a return to the figures in the original (and legendary) Egyptian "Book of Thoth" -- which he said was the true origin of the Tarot. This deck was printed in a number of versions in the early 1800s. The Book of Thoth is a reprint of the Grand Etteilla III deck which first appeared in France under the title of "Great Game Oracle of the Ladies" in the 1870s.

While this deck loosely follows the Tarot pattern of a 22 card major arcana (here called "Superior Lames"), 16 court cards (called "Median Lames") and 40 pip cards ("Inferior Lames"), the major arcana are very different from a normal Tarot deck. The "Superior Lames" are Folly, Chaos, Light, Plants and Birds, Heavens, Person, Stars, Birds and Fish, Rest, Justice, Temperance, Strength, Prudence, Marriage, Force Majeure, Magician, Judgement, Death, Hermit, Temple, Wheel, and Carriage. The multi-lingual booklet that comes with this set provides the history of the deck, a traditional method of reading it, and two one sentence meanings (one for upright and one for reversed) for each card.

If one is interested in the history of the Tarot, The Book of Thoth deck is probably a must have. I believe that this deck is the origin of the "Tarot comes from the Book of Thoth" idea. However, the cards themselves are nothing all that special. The superior and median Lames are illustrated, although without a lot of symbolism. The pip cards only have a standard fancy border and the appropriate number of suit symbols. As I prefer a symbol rich deck, I had trouble reading with this one. That trouble was somewhat compounded by the strange cards in the major arcana. Nevertheless, I am happy to have this deck in my collection for its historical value. Those who regularly read with Marseilles style Tarot decks will probably have less trouble reading with this deck than I do.

Reviewed by Randall

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