Every deck that goes a little deeper than merely being a clone of TdM, Thoth or WCS deserves a decent companion. But unfortunately there aren’t many good ones out there. Book of Seshet is one of the exceptions. This guidebook, written for The Rosetta Tarot by MM Meleen, also happens to offer slightly more if you’re into Golden Dawn and Thoth.
The Book of Seshet might be the companion for any Rosetta Tarot (in a tin, regular edition or the newest Papyrus edition Silver & Gold), but according to author MM Meleen the guidebook can also function as a basic companion to any Thoth-type deck.
The Book of Seshet has the typical look & feel of a paperback companion. But there is some color. The cover is adorned by the — very awesome – Adjustment card, with a black & golden hieroglyphics print in the background, plus white and green lettering. The first few pages have that shiny photo paper and show you several of the Rosetta Tarot cards — full color but not entirely full-sized. It starts with the back (the Rosecrucian cross), offers 8 of the Major Arcana, all the Aces, several minors in no particular setting and an example of 4 court cards-much as I like to do in my tarot deck reviews.
The Book of Seshet’s text starts with an explanation on how she made the Rosetta Tarot. It takes you on her creative journey. I always like it when designers show a part of their process and more importantly: share their vision with us. That little inside into their tarot soul makes any deck come to life and usually helps with interpretation or understanding of deviations.
If you know other work by MM Meleen you know she has quite the distinctive writing style. I first got acquainted with it while reading Liber M, the companion for Tabula Mundi and the Book of Seshet is written in exactly the same way. It borders on the academic (non-native speakers might have some difficulty), but has a very philosophical feel to it. Every paragraph is full of thought twists and metaphors, anecdotes and parables. If you lack the expansive knowledge she has on the modalities and symbols she added to the deck — even more than Golden Dawn attributes — it can sometimes feel as a bit much.
Luckily, Meleen is a good writer. Her more poetic style just takes some getting used to. Once you’re in that zone, you’ll see she is an excellent teacher. And that comes in handy when she comes through on her promise this isn’t just a companion for the Rosetta, but can also be useful for beginners with other GD-decks.
Guide to GD attributes
I specifically like the way she’s introduced the astrological correspondences and does not shy away from mentioning the fact no astrologer will recognize their craft one-on-one in Crowley’s work, since he (or GD) pushed their own form of the Zodiac onto the tarot to make it work. But…work it does, if you’re willing to try. And that’s where the approximately 25+ pages after the intro come in.
She manages to break down both the Kabbalah and Astrology related to Golden Dawn deck in that amount of pages and she does it really well. She explains Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable, what the elements of the signs mean and how they influence sign and card. Then she links them all to the planets & Zodiac, simply explaining which minor arcana cards are involved and which interpretation is therefore strengthened or weakened. I now know what is important about Mercury, how to recognize the symbol on tarot cards, which 6 Majors/Minors are linked to this planet and how to use this info in a reading.
Tree of Life
The same goes for Kabbalah and her mini lecture-text on the Tree of Life. A diagram, an explanatory text of what this tree of Life actually is and how it is used concerning tarot. This diagram in return leads to 10 separate very comprehensive paragraphs on each sephira, making up all the sephiroth on the Tree. Now, can I call myself an expert on GD modalities after reading the book. Of course not!
But if you are a beginner, you’ll might have the same lightbulb-next-to-head-moment I did. I finally see that Kabbalah in the Tarot is a symbolic map of stages in our life, paths to travel. Just like The Fool’s Journey. And because in the Rosetta Tarot (as any other Thoth-type) each sephira is linked back to a planet (like Chesed/Mercy is the sphere of Jupiter and Geburah is the sphere of Mars, as the Book of Seshet tells me) you can use your just learnt astrology attributes and combine them in an answer.
The rest of the guide carefully lays out the construction of each of the 78 tarot cards made for the Rosetta Tarot. The Book of Seshet does not disappoint in this regard either. While here we get to see little black and white cards, we definitely get enough text for our bucks (+ several large spreads that are a little different than normal). Each Major card has at least two pages, starting at a description of all the useful and important symbols.
But it’s not a book simply telling you what you can already see. No, each part of the card is supported by mythology, history, alchemy and whatever else comes to the table. Of course, wherever possible, they are also linked to the relevant GD attributes. The description never becomes expected or ‘too explanatory’ in the way that she ‘pre-chewed’ your interpretation for you.
Yes, there is a ‘In a reading’-part, but those are fresh enough and still leave room to combine with whatever information you’ve read in the book before or saw on the cards yourself. It’ll just give you something to go on if you’re just starting out with the Rosetta Tarot or perhaps another GD deck that looks similar in approach. (My personal opinion is to then work with Crowley’s Thoth).
The Book of Seshet is one of those companions we always hope to get when buying a deck. Or when we sprung for a few more dollars to get the guide. This companion helps you in understanding the deck and extra’s on the cards and offers some interesting personal information and GD-teaching-text on top of that.
Because the Rosetta Tarot is so close to Crowley’s Thoth in many ways you will absolutely better understand any other deck (and book) on Golden Dawn and Kabbalah if you manage to land a copy of The Book of Seshet. It might be a little harder to read if you’re not a native English speaker, but for me it was worth it. It will ‘up your game’ with the Rosetta tarot, next to being an interesting read, for sure. So, I will definitely start implementing all this information carefully into my tarot readings and reference it when I use GD or Meleen-decks. With the Mistress of the House of Books as your guide, you can’t go wrong.
The Book of Seshet has just been reprinted after being OOP for a long while. You can get your copy via MM Meleen. And good news, cause currently it is ON SALE. Either as a stand-alone or as a package with the Rosetta Tarot Papyrus Edition Silver.
|Author or artist||Publisher||Publication|
|MM Meleen||AtuHouse/Meleen SP||2011/2017|
NB. Since this is a companion book there will be no wrap-up or grading.