Deck Review of the Tao Oracle Cards by Ma Deva Padma

Tao Oracle Deck 01 First Three

I’ve fallen in love… with the Tao Oracle deck by Ma Deva Padma published by St. Martin’s Press. This is the I Ching oracle deck. It’s a deck of 64 cards based on the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching Book of Changes. Padma’s paintings are emotional, textured, and fully expressive of each of the hexagrams they represent. A quote from the artist: “The evolution and creation of my paintings is sparked by a deep and intensely personal journey into the realm of the subconscious — the kingdom of archetypes and the home of mysterious symbols.”

Tao Oracle Deck 02 Packaging

The deck is beautifully packaged in a sturdy high-gloss box. It comes with a 310-page perfect-bound guidebook that contains the author’s personal interpretations of the 64 hexagrams. St. Martin’s Press really out-does the more popular tarot and oracle deck publishers du jour. I cannot praise the quality of this deck enough.

Tao Oracle Deck 03 Guidebook

The guidebook is also fantastic and easy-to-use for I Ching divination, if you want to go at it via traditional bibliomancy. You could toss coins, construct a hexagram, and then look it up in this book for divinatory purposes via bibliomancy. But why? Especially when you get these gorgeous oracle cards. The cards are a matte finish, just exquisite, super sturdy, and 3.5″ x 5.25″.

Tao Oracle Deck 04 Card Backs

I love the card backs. I really do love everything about this deck. I want to show you some of my favorite card illustrations, but really, I love them all.

Tao Oracle Deck 05 Cards

Tao Oracle Deck 07 Beautiful The cards themselves are great for learning I Ching fundamentals. On the bottom left of each card you have symbols that won’t take you long to learn. Circle is Heaven; square is Earth; the zig-zag that looks like the number 3 is Thunder; the spiral is Wind; the three squiggly horizontal lines that kind of look like the Western astrological glyph for Aquarius is Water; the three squiggly vertical lines is Fire; the three mountain peaks is Mountain; and the semi-circle cup upward with a horizontal line below it is Lake. Those are the eight trigrams. The traditional three-line representation of each trigram is on the right bottom of each card. Each trigram is also represented by a specific color. Heaven is white; Earth is black; Thunder is red; Wind is light green; Water is blue; Fire is yellow; Mountain is green; and Lake is pink. The yin-yang symbol or taijitu at the top center of the card shows combination of lower and upper trigrams forming the hexagram in question, using color symbolism. So in the above, Hexagram 11 is Earth over Heaven, so the taijitu is black over white, whereas Hexagram 12 is Heaven over Earth, and so the taijitu depicted is white over black. Then there are reference tables in the guidebook to explain the meanings and correspondences of each trigram, so you can understand why the combination of the two trigrams comprising the hexagram means what it means. Even if you don’t learn the I Ching fundamentals with these easy-to-use symbolic references, there are keywords at the bottom of each card. Again, the illustrations are very supportive of the meaning of each hexagram, and so you can really use Padma’s paintings here to dive into your subconscious. Or heck, go back to bibliomancy and once you draw the card, look up the hexagram in the I Ching Book of Changes.

Tao Oracle Deck 08 Energy Work

The Tao Oracle deck is also great for energetic work, feng shui, or meditation. I love Hexagram 14: Prosperity and using it in personal rituals to activate correspondent metaphysical energies for material wealth.

Tao Oracle Deck 09 Cards

Tao Oracle Deck 10 Cards

As I went through the deck, I told myself to only take a few pictures of my most favorite cards, but that was so hard. I really love them all. Look at the above cards and you’ll know exactly what I mean. How was I supposed to choose?!

Tao Oracle Deck 11 Single Closeup

If you want to learn I Ching cosmology, this is a fantastic deck for that purpose. You have the symbolic references on the bottom left. In the above card example, Hexagram 34, the symbols are Thunder over Heaven. Now look to the bottom right. The top trigram is the trigram for Thunder, and the bottom one is for Heaven. The taijitu yin-yang symbol at the top center of the card depicts that synergy with color– red over white for Thunder over Heaven. And then the imagery– for me, that painting really does convey Great Power.

Tao Oracle Deck 12 Cards

Tao Oracle Deck 13 Cards

Tao Oracle Deck 14 Cards

Tao Oracle Deck 15 Cards

For most Western tarot (and oracle deck) practitioners who are intrigued by the I Ching but aren’t necessarily proficient with it, this oracle deck may be a bit tough to use for professional readings. Instead, they’re better for your personal energetic workings, if you’re a practitioner who subscribes to such work. The deck is also great for the “card of the day” draws that many tarot professionals and enthusiasts subscribe to.

Tao Oracle Deck 16 Cards

Ma Deva Padma is also the creator and artist behind the Osho-Zen Tarot, but I’d contend that the Tao Oracle is stylistically very different from the Osho-Zen. I found a fascinating passage by Padma on her website comparing the two decks:

What are the main differences between the Osho-Zen Tarot and the Tao Oracle? Upon completing the Tao Oracle, I realised that it resonates at a different frequency from the Osho Zen Tarot. I see the Zen deck as a bit like the sun: brilliant, vibrant; captivating in its colourful, graphic, clarity. In a purely tactile way, the Zen deck snaps; it is easy to handle. It functions like a Zen stick straight to the head, creating a flash of understanding that then sinks beneath the chatter of the mind to create heightened awareness and insight. That’s essentially how it facilitates self-transformation. On the other hand, the Tao deck is like the moon: it beckons you to go very deep. Its images and card quality are older than the Zen deck, more antique in appearance and feel. In many of the cards the paintings are intricately detailed and were originally created as large canvases. The Tao deck resonates as a deep hum. It feels ancient, after all, it is anchored in the centuries old I Ching. It’s as though it has entered the present, the now, in a form that we can relate to, but it has also been around for thousands of years. Once you work with it, you will return to it often as to the wise sage it has always been. To my mind, together these two decks comprise a complete cosmology and are a mighty tool for transformation.

Tao Oracle Deck 17 Final

If you’re interested in the I Ching and have been looking for a good I Ching oracle deck, this is it.

28 thoughts on “Deck Review of the Tao Oracle Cards by Ma Deva Padma

  1. Jim

    I’m sitting in a bar outside a train station drinking a smoky porter beer and reading over my new Zen Tarot book I just got in the mail today with the deck.
    I of course unconsciously slip out my phone to check my emails and I see one from your blog talking of the new Tao Oracle deck by the same author.
    It looks amazing! That deck is next on my list.
    I also attended your tarot and creativity webinar on Saturday. Bang up job. I’m already planning my plot points, and characters for my next play with your suggestions.
    I just love syncronycity.
    Be well jim Mac

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzi Petito

    Shared on my FB page this review, and will order the deck today. Great review and pics:-) Oh, and I know nothing about I Ching, so now or never, here is my opportunity:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JJ

    This is a wonderful deck and it started a small sub-genre in my collection of I Ching decks. Some are hard to scrounge up but it’s interesting to compare their approach to the I Ching.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. JJ

        Very definitely, it’s a special deck. I found it good to pair sometimes with other I Ching decks, to boost them up since it is so good. You know that Lo Scarabeo deck I Ching of Love? It’s a good one to pair with this particularly if you’re doing something related to love/relationship matters.


        1. I love this deck so much, too. I haven’t tried mixing the approaches yet. I either do a traditional I Ching divination with the coins or rice grains. Or I’ll just draw cards and read the cards. But some sort of hybrid would be a pretty cool idea! I might give it a try one of these days.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I love it too, I’m surprised the book is so well written. I am tempted also to get the Zen Tarot, I have the music cd specially composed for this Tarot for over 10 years, but I somehow, couldn’t bear the thought of drawing the Master card…….
            I did all the sage purification etc yesterday before I use it, and drew my first card Innocence, asking a question on wellbeing. I love it!!
            Thanks for alerting me to it, so appreciated, You are a Goddess!!

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Eve

              I was introduced to the books that Hanna Moog and Carol Anthony wrote, during difficult time in my life when nothing else was helping me with family issue that was tearing me apart. They are in their 80’s, have worked with the I Ching personally and professionally for many, many years, their books approach it from western psychological perspective.


  4. Nini

    This deck was my starting point for learning I-Ching. I agree they are gorgeous cards. Now I use them more for meditation purpose after having drawn my Hexagram with Karcher’s bead-method.


  5. Inger Anne-Sofi Jansson

    Love this deck, bought it a few days ago after reading your review of it here! I have tried it out with a 5 card “Star of Insight” spread. I focused on how to start a certain essential change I need in my work life and I used the coins to access the changing lines in the potential outcome position. All the cards were totally relevent for me and resonated deeply. Well I got my answer and I’m gonna stick with that from now on to get the ball rolling in the right direction – awesome! And oh I also bought your book, I’ve heard so much good about it and am looking forward to read it now – lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. yvonne

    Dear Ms Wen,
    I was besotted with the Tao Oracle before I read your review and completely sold afterward. I looked for a link to Amazon on your site but could not find one.
    Also, I purchased your book several months ago and now recommend it to anyone seeking a comprehensive source of information on all things Tarot. Well done!



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