The Magical Times Empowerment Cards by fantasy illustrator and writer Jody Bergsma, who is just a master at watercolor, which you’ll see throughout the images of this deck. Part art deck and part channeling tool, these cards will have you believing in magic again.
The card dimensions are standard size for an oracle deck, 3.375″ x 5.125″ on sturdy cardstock that has just a subtle sheen to it, but not glossy. It’s a really great finish for an oracle deck. Unlike most oracle decks these days, which are accompanied by perfect-bound little companion books with full color covers, this deck comes with a little white booklet (LWB) as you’d find with most tarot decks. The deck is published by U.S. Games Systems, but interestingly enough, it was sent to me by Llewellyn for review, so there seems to be some interesting publisher collaborations going on behind the scenes. (Not that I have any firsthand knowledge; all pure speculation on my part.)
The card backs feature repeating linked circles that call to mind mathematical (and magical) knots. They’re reversible and in the Introduction in the LWB, Bergsma talks about reading the deck with reversals.
When cards are upright, which she calls direct cards, “the meaning is straightforward and provides both an insight and a call to action.”
Reversed cards will indicate an imbalance in the energy that the card expresses. Bergsma also encourages you to draw an additional card if the reversed card is confusing to you. If a card confuses you, ask the question, “What does this mean?” and draw another card. I do like this approach.
One aspect of the box construction that I thought I was going to love (because it’s different from all the other oracle deck packaging I’ve seen) I ended up disliking immensely. The flap. It’s not magnetized and not well thought through in terms of construction and balance, because the flap does not stay closed. See photo above and below.
The above shows the box flap “closed” in resting position. It’s not fully closed. I’m sure for the vast majority of people, this is a non-issue, but I have just a smidge of OCD in me and this bothers me A LOT. I can’t even look at the partially-open resting flap without getting a little agitated. I know. I suck at life. What I need to do is use these Magical Times cards more and find my inner peace with them.
Made in China. Ah. In my corporate and business experiences, I’ve dealt with dozens of Chinese manufacturers, know them well, and understand how business, especially manufacturing is done in China, and let’s just say at least based on my personal experiences, I’m not a fan. Now as I type this, I’m glancing side-eye at that partially open flap on the box.
Sorry, lost my train of thought. The above photo shows a beautiful opening to the LWB. You have a very beautiful, creative, and whimsical take on the Rosicrucian rose in Bergsma’s signature artistic style, a quote from the artist herself, and a beautiful poem that I just had to share.
Do not dismiss the LWB just because it’s a thin little black and white copy LWB. Instead of rehashing card meanings or writing the same thing written on the cards but with different and more words, Bergsma has used the LWB space wisely with companion affirmations for each card. Wow, I love that. In the above, you see a sample card and its affirmation entry in the LWB.
As a tool for self-reflection and daily guidance, this deck is amazing, especially with the affirmations in the LWB.
Above shows two more examples before I get into the cards themselves. Again, so cool, especially the way Bergsma has expressed “Adversity.” I love the illustration that comes with “Action,” the power and strength captured in that image.
The cards are bordered in a shade darker than the background color of each card. In terms of the overall design, great choice of font, great color balance, and I love that the illustration is bordered within a circle but it isn’t a hard border, as you can see in many of these card illustrations.
I say that this is an art deck because, well, it’s a spotlight on a single artist’s body of work, Jody Bergsma. Also, art decks tend to have just the slightest disconnect between illustration and card title/meaning, and are sometimes a bit of a reach, though sometimes fit just snugly. That’s how I see this deck. Most of them fit comfortably, like Awareness with the fairy in deep, close observation; Change, depicting a butterfly; Confidence with the eagle; actually most of the illustrations in the above set work well. Here I am, eating my words half-way through my statements.
You’ll see above that the card Expectation is the image on the box. I’m always intrigued by why a particular card image is selected to be on a cover. The card Gentleness is one of my favorites. Is that Saint Francis de Sales? I especially love the swan imagery, like in the card Elegance.
Bergsma’s paintings have so much movement. The dragons, unicorns, hummingbirds, mermaids, and fairies are animated under her paintbrush. It’s amazing.
Here’s a message I really like: Sacred Space. It’s a great message. Almost all of these messages and the corresponding affirmations in the LWB are important daily messages.
The above shows the accompanying LWB entry for the card and offers a sampling of how the two work together. The card itself and the message on it is rather self-explanatory and doesn’t require additional verbiage to explain its meaning or interpretation. The space in the LWB, then, is used to include an affirmation that you can use to manifest the prescription written on the card.
Three spreads are taught in the LWB. However, rather than instruct the spreads in a clinical manner, which is what you normally get, Bergsma truly infuses the process with magic, and that is best demonstrated in the Five-Card Elemental Influences Spread.
The instruction begins with the lighting of a candle, clearing your intentions and creating your sacred space. Then you ask, “Who will help me, who stands beside me and gives me strength?”
Cards are drawn one at a time as you focus on and face one of the four cardinal directions. The cards are fanned out into a spiral, though I think in the below photo, I did it wrong. Bergsma instructs to start at the center of the spiral and fan outward. Oops. I fanned inward. Ah well.
Each card is drawn one by one as you face each of the four directions, beginning with East. It’s five cards, so at the end, you face East again, coming full circle, and draw the final card for Spirit. The process, per Bergsma, is about invoking and creating a Magical Wheel.
Here are my results:
Lately every reading I do for myself has included a reminder of the abundance in my life, and to demonstrate gratitude for that abundance. Here, this deck is no exception. I found the central card to be the most interesting, and the one that required the most reflection:
A beautiful and well-timed message plus affirmation.
Now let’s talk about this very cool card, Prosperity.
The image depicts three three-legged Jin Chan frogs. I love it! Certain Chinese practitioners invoke the Jin Chan or use the Jin Chan in their magical workings for prosperity, wealth, and especially business or merchant success. It’s believed that the Jin Chan can take many forms in our material world and when it “shows up” after a magical working (i.e., you see a sign or omen that calls to mind or is believed to be the embodiment of the Jin Chan), it means your prayers, request, intentions, spell, whatever you want to call it, has worked, and prosperity will be yours.
To see it included here by Bergsma makes me so happy. And– for you– know that when you use the Magical Times empowerment cards and the Jin Chan card (okay, it’s called Prosperity) appears in your reading, it’s an omen, a sign that means the embodiment of the Jin Chan is here to bring you financial abundance, that the Jin Chan has found you deserving of greater prosperity in your life. I’m also sure this particular card could be used for or incorporated into your own personal magical workings for prosperity.
A blend of fantasy art and magical realism, Bergsma’s watercolors are stunning to look at and evoke all sorts of emotions and sentiments when using the Magical Times Empowerment cards. For me, the deck caused me to reconnect with my inner child. There is a Six of Cups energy about this deck that I love. I find it to be a great oracle deck to work with for children and also for adults who could use a return to that childlike state of innocence, magic, and possibilities that Bergsma’s deck provides. Absolutely beautiful.