Silicon Dawn Tarot, 1

The Tarot of the Silicon Dawn by Egypt Urnash

78 traditional arcana and 21 unconventional arcana (to challenge your world)

This is the first of an at least 7 part series. Yes, I’ve already written over 3,000 words about this deck. No, I didn’t think you would want to read them all in one blog post.


I have two confessions to make regarding this deck:

  • I hate this deck.
  • I love this deck. I wish I had created it.

I imagine if Egypt Urnash ever reads these words, she would be very happy and think “there now, I’ve done my job properly.”

This post will be the first in a series that documents my exploration of this crazy deck. One of the reasons I am stubbornly pursuing this deck and plumbing its mysteries is because Riccardo hinted that I wouldn’t (and I heard it as “couldn’t”).

Elemental Associations

Let’s begin with my first statement. Why do I hate this deck? I’ll tell you.

I am used to decks that switch the elemental attributions of Wands and Swords. In most cases, the “switch” is invisible and hardly, if at all, affects the images and/or how the cards are interpreted. However, I have never read with a deck that switches Wands and PENTACLES!!! For crying out loud! How can someone swap a passive suit with an active suit? Not only that…but the images and meanings (not merely the elemental associations) are reversed. Just look at this, here are the 6 of Wands and the 6 of Pentacles.

I know, right!?!?!

Okay, here is what Ms. Urnash says:

“Keep in mind, though, that Wands and Pentacles are switched around here. Certain aspects of these suits have remained—Pents still talk about money more than any other suit—but the elemental associations and the astrological correspondences are swapped. Pents are Fires; Wands are Earth. They both talk a lot about building stuff, but in different ways.”


“…the bounty of the Earth seems a much better association for the Wands than the Pents to me, especially when the Wands are so often depicted as being alive and flowering.”

That’s it. This person, Ms. Urnash, does not feel compelled to explain or justify her choices. Good gosh, I really admire that about her.

Special Feature!

You have to hold the cards to experience them fully.

One of the very cool features of this deck is the inclusion of cleverly placed spot gloss on the cards. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can ever make it show up in scans. You have to actually hold the cards to experience them fully. Sometimes the gloss just makes the cards feel cool and adds highlights. Sometimes it adds to or changes the meaning of the cards. For example, in the 9 of Wands, the two front posts have equations on them. One is FV = PV (1 + i)n and is how to calculate compound interest; the other is for calculating Malthusian population growth.

Remember, for most of us, this card holds the same meaning as the 9 of Pentacles, although Egypt focuses more on continual gain than on having accomplished material security. See, she takes the idea and pushes it. I think that implying that having material success means you are always looking to increase exponentially is a little cynical, but perhaps it is more true of human beings than I care to admit. Anyhow, the spot gloss in this card adds to it because the happy image of a life filled with good things is supported by the need to continually gain and the spectre of human population outgrowing the available resources, necessitating a famine or disaster to cull the herd.


Tune in tomorrow. I’ll tell you all about the “structure” of this crazy 99 card deck!

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9 Responses to Silicon Dawn Tarot, 1
  1. Theresa Reed| The Tarot Lady
    July 12, 2011 | 2:32 pm

    What the hell? Now you have me intrigued. I don’t know what to think!

    • Barbara Moore
      July 18, 2011 | 3:53 pm

      Keep reading! It gets ever stranger and more interesting. It is good to stretch! This deck is yoga for the tarot brain.

  2. Chloe
    July 13, 2011 | 9:06 am

    I’d already decided I wanted this deck, just saving my pennies. Now, hearing your take on it, I’m just dying to get my hands on it! Anything that you both love and hate, and have been inspired to write seven posts about, must be fascinating :> So many layers and levels, so unusual…

    • Barbara Moore
      July 13, 2011 | 10:00 am

      Chloe, so true. Like I just said to Theresa, it is definitely yoga for the tarot brain. It’s good to stretch every once in a while, even if it is not your daily stance. Stretching makes you both more flexible and stronger in everything you do. We should all remember that. Rigidity has its place but should always be balanced with flexibility.

  3. Egypt Urnash
    July 14, 2011 | 1:15 am

    “I imagine if Egypt Urnash ever reads these words…”

    She laughed out loud, read the next sentence about what you thought she’d say, and nodded. “Pretty much,” she said.

    And then she pondered how Google Alerts had given her a creepy new sense that someone was talking about her. “It was kind of magical”, she thought. And then she decided to stop talking about herself in the third person.

    Oh, and I’ve got a video on Youtube that does a halfway- decent job of showing off the varnish effect; it shows up a lot better in motion.

  4. Barbara Moore
    July 18, 2011 | 2:08 pm

    Egypt! I had a feeling you’d find this! Hurray! Thanks for stopping by. I’m honored and delighted!

    • Egypt Urnash
      July 19, 2011 | 1:45 pm

      And I’m honored and delighted that you think my deck is interesting enough for a seven-part review!

  5. enchantedsilverbroom
    July 20, 2011 | 8:37 am

    Not too sure about this deck. I’m waiting for you’re next blog. It is easy to understand the hate/love feelings this deck can bring!!

  6. Douglass White
    July 20, 2011 | 9:47 am

    I basically do not like mixing of the suits, because they are the elemental states of matter that have been around since the beginning, if not longer. On the other hand, they do unify and can transform from one state to the other.

    Egypt’s art work is very lively and I love the addition of “varnish” spots that highlight details, though that must raise printing costs.

    I am drawn to Egypt Urnash also because I designed the Senet Tarot of Ancient Egypt. I wonder if Egypt’s interest in Tarot goes back that far. “Urnash” in ancient Egyptian is the name of a river in Hour Two of the Book of What Happens in the Astral Realm (Amduat). The name is usually transliterated as “Ur-nes” or “Wer-nes”. I did a version of that book that I call A Tour of Atlantis.

    I look forward to the rest of the review.

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