The Kosmos Oracle by Carmen Bello was published earlier this year and so far it’s flew a bit under the radar. And I’m not entirely sure why, because it’s a marvelous, delightful, and very accurate reading deck. The namesake comes from the Greek term Kosmos to indicate the universe as a harmonious, orderly system, a deck that will help you to regulate Chaos.
There’s a 1970s pivot-of-change aesthetic here, or at least that’s what comes across to me. The 70s was this decade of social progress in the form of civil rights and sexual revolution, individualized spiritual awakening, both coups and efforts at decolonization in many of the developing nations, genre fiction getting a spike in the publishing industry, and the hippie subculture.
Bello has developed an operable, cohesive system here, comprised of 54 cards. There are four elemental cards, as you see above, then seven chakra cards, sacred journey cards, and zodiac archetypes. These are the layers of the Kosmos Oracle system. In addition to the layers, there are five suits, corresponding with Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Ether. Suit cards that show up in a pattern will reveal certain repeating themes in the matter divined upon, as follows:
- Fire (masculine energy): root or direct causes, ambition as drive
- Water (feminine energy): emotions as drive, relationships or interpersonal causes
- Air (masculine energy): intellect, reason, logos as drive; communications, the mind and realm of thoughts
- Earth (feminine energy): the body, access to resources, materialism, capital
- Ether (both): cyclical cause; higher purpose or higher awareness; transcendental
Bello recommends cleansing your deck if someone has touched it, to remove the residual energies. This can be done with incense, salt, moon baths, or crystals such as selenite, clear quartz, or tourmaline. She also talks about using energy healing, sound therapy, blowing or knocking on the deck.
In the above spread of cards, you’ll see in the white caption bar that the elemental symbol on the right bottom corner indicates the suit (the circle is ether). The number designated at the left bottom corner will indicate the kosmos layer.
The guidebook is comprehensive and suitable for a total beginner to use. You pull a card and can look it up in the guidebook that’s included inside the box. Key 5: Safety, corresponding with the root chakra and the element Earth, for example, delivers the message, “You are being invited to come back to your sanctuary that is your body. . . . The layer of the reality governed by the root chakra revolves around survival instincts and basic needs. It speaks about the relationships within the tribe, the family, and foundations. The root chakra can hold ancestral wounds.”
The cards as a divination tool serve as a form of spiritual diagnosis, and it works really well to that effect. The sacred journey layer of cards in this deck, each composed of a core element (bottom right corner of the caption bar), reveals to you where you are in terms of a milestone along your path. Key 13: Origin can suggest an emotional trigger originating from the past that has set you off into your present situation, and you need to address this old wound, even if it wasn’t your wound to begin with.
In the guidebook there are also action items designated for each card. Key 14: The Unknown, for instance, gives the action message, “Step out of your comfort zone. Reflect on your fears and whether they are based on reality or imagination,” and so on. I love the affirmation here, or one line of the affirmation mantra: “Not knowing is okay.”
Psst… not relevant, but I’m amused that the image of The Unknown card in the guidebook doesn’t feature an elemental symbol, and then in the final printed card in the deck, you’ll see that it’s assigned the elemental attribute of Fire.
I didn’t foresee how much I was going to love and resonate with this deck. Upon first impression, I liked the diversity of female bodies, that reminiscent retro 70s aesthetic, and the production value– matte finish cards with metallic embossing on the card backs and peachy nude edging.
It was after I dived deeper into the deck’s theory, premise, the well-written guidebook, really well designed structure, and most important of all, how it operated that I realized, oh wow. This is a really well-done deck.
Above you’ll see more Sacred Journey cards, from Key 23: Vulnerability to Key 34: Protection. And if you can zoom in on the above photograph, notice the body language of the figures in the cards, like how the figure is poised in Protection ,or Abundance, Patience, Resilience, etc.
Each card in the Sacred Journey layer of Kosmos is about learning a specific life lesson or coming to know one facet to the greater Meaning of Life so that you can continue toward spiritual awakening.
Card 43: The Trailblazer begins the Zodiac Cards, with The Trailblazer being the archetype expressive of Aries. Key 44: The Nurturer corresponds to Taurus, and she’s wearing the Horns of Isis; Key 45: The Student is Gemini; Key 46: The Mother is Cancer.
I also love how the Chakra cards would guide you through inner alchemical transformations and how the body affects fate, and then the Sacred Journey cards were, at the core, about mental development and how states of mind affect your destiny, and then here in the Zodiac cards, this is about outer alchemical transformations, namely celestial connections.
Even the little details, like the I Ching Ba Gua page spread that the figure in The Student card is holding, is painstakingly thought out. There is a lot of nudity in the art here, which for me, works in the specific context of what you’d use this deck for. There’s this, I’m not sure if I’m conveying this right, but ritual skyclad energy around the Kosmos Oracle. That’s why I say the depictions of nudity works.
This deck is incredible for self-exploration and as magical as it is, it’s also palatable for those who are totally not into the woo and just want an easy oracle deck to tinker with. Find your archetype cards per your birth chart.
For example, my sun sign is Libra, moon sign Leo, and rising sign Aquarius, so I’ll pull out The Peacemaker (49), The Leader (47), and The Channeler (53), read the card entries in the guidebook, and then journal my responsive impressions to the three archetypes and what I’m reading about them in the guidebook.
There is a generous handful of card spread instructions in the guidebook, and they’re worth your while to try out. I test-drove several of the card spreads and loved the readings I got with them. Yes, the first few weeks I used the deck, I looked up each card meaning in the guidebook during these readings.
But then after about a month, I really didn’t need the guidebook at all. The artwork, the keywords you’ get, and just becoming familiar with Bello’s system is more than sufficient to get powerful psychic hits and also deep self-exploration with these cards.
I did want to mention one critique I have on the production front, and the only reason I even ended up having this critique is because I want to use this deck regularly. I want to work with it on a routine basis.
If this was a “ooh, pretty!” deck just for my collection for collection’s sake, then I would never have gotten to this point of critique. It’s exactly because I wanted to keep this deck in regular circulation on my reading desk that I started getting opinionated. =)
Okay. The cards are really hard to shuffle. The specific type of velvety rose-petal matte finish used here plus the powdery edging treatment means groups of cards constantly get clumped together and I can’t seem to shuffle them out. For those who riffle shuffle, forget about it– it’s not happening. =)
My solution is to divvy up the cards into a number of card piles corresponding with my life path number (Life Path 7), then let my intuition lead me in terms of which card piles to pull from for a reading. But honestly? Even that proved to be a little bit difficult, because the cards still kind of clump together even when I’m trying to dish them out one by one into the card piles, so I can’t get into a rhythm. I’m constantly having to stop, pause, and unstick the cards.
In terms of divination, while I’m shuffling, I really like to get into a rhythm as I shuffle, and if you listened just to the sound of my shuffling, you’d hear a noticeable beat. With this deck, I just can’t do that. Sigh. So that’s my negative critique, and you know what, the only reason it even came up was because of how much I adored this deck and how much I wanted to regularly use it. Other decks I’ve reviewed probably had this issue, too, but I just never brought it up in that deck’s review because it never came up in my personal practice. It wasn’t a problem if I was only going to use the deck once in a blue moon. You know what I mean?
I would make the presumption that those on a Wiccan-inspired spiritual path are going to get a lot of good mileage out of Kosmos Oracle. There’s a lot here that’s also resonant with the neopagan Goddess Movement. And you know what? I would not say I identify with either of those two spiritual paths, and yet I am in love with this deck of cards. And I’m trying to pinpoint why exactly, because upon first look, you really wouldn’t think it’d be something I’d be that into.
So let me attempt self-awareness here. One, I found it to be an accurate reading deck. But lots of decks, oracle and tarot, are “accurate reading decks” to me. Therefore it’s not just that. Hmm. I really like the body language illustrated into each card. The deck, as a tool, feels very much attuned to the physical plane, and oddly enough, you don’t often find that in oracle decks. That’s a hard-to-come-by trait. You get a lot of decks that are heady-high-concept, or emotional-intuitive driven, but a deck that inspires you to be in touch with the body is rare.
I’m going off topic here and this is a random remark, but Bello noted how she both conceived of and completed this deck during the 2020 pandemic lockdown, kinda the way I did with the SKT Revelation. I can’t cite the names now, but there were a couple of other decks I saw that were also conceived and completed under lockdown.
Something these lockdown-inspired decks seem to have in common: they’re idealistically expansive. And what I mean by that is the imagery and the concept feel like artists and creators trying to push out of physical barriers to explore an infinite space. It’s astral-journeying; it’s spacey, it’s galactic, or world-travel-ish… isn’t that…interesting?
If you get down to studying some of the compositions here, they’re inspirational. Like in the card above, I love how her hair connects her to the infinite starry night sky– it is the infinite starry night sky.
My recommendations for best uses with this deck is short-term divinatory questions, if you’re using it for divination. As Bello notes in the guidebook, these also make for great altar cards and in focused meditation. When I say “short-term divination,” I mean the card of the day or week draws, getting a sense of the energy or psychic temperature of a moment, getting practical advice for what to do next, your next step, rather than long-term or lofty goal-setting, if that makes any sense.
This deck is really practical and in a way, reminds me of the Awakened Soul Oracle deck. If you like Ethony’s Awakened Soul Oracle, then I think you’re really going to like Kosmos Oracle, and yet the two decks are very different and distinct from each other in terms of aesthetics, style, and even point of view.
I kinda wish this deck would get picked up by a mass market publishing house so that you can get this deck out to wider circulation. There’s something here that veteran older-gen cartomancers will love, and there’s something here that feels very current to Gen Z witches on TikTok. Magically, this deck can appeal to both.
FTC Disclosure: In accordance with Title 16 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations Part 255, “Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising,” I received Kosmos Oracle from deck creator for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.