The Paper Oracle: A Lenormand Deck by Eric Maille

The Paper Oracle was published earlier this year by artist Eric Maille, who also created The Ink Witch Tarot. While this is through and through a Lenormand deck, Maille has added a few creative upgrades– 7 additional cards.

There are 43 cards, though the first 36 numbered cards function like any other Lenormand deck. Work with the additional cards at your option. Above you can see the cards in numerical order, and after Card 36: The Cross, we get the set of 7 cards Maille has created, beginning with Card 37: The Non-Binary.

“While gender and sexuality are complex things that cannot be solely defined by ‘Male, Female, and Non-Binary,'” writes Maille in the companion guidebook, “this card may be used to represent a specific person who identifies outside of the male-female binary. When not used as a significator, this card signifies the associations of Pluto, such as transformation, regeneration, rebirth, or the subconscious.

Card 39 is the card of creative power– something alchemical brewing. The extra cards really add a dimension to the Lenormand that I’m loving. The Cauldron has so many layers of meaning in both western and eastern esotericism, so I find the inclusion of this card extra delightful.

I love the addition of The Scales, The Stranger, and The Wheel. The Stranger suggests mysteries, that the concept of the unknown plays as a key factor in the matter at hand. We’ll need to rely on our instincts. The Wheel card, illustrated with a spool of thread– the threads of fate– is read in a way similar to the Wheel of Fortune card in the tarot.

Maille’s Ink Witch Tarot was a sepia-toned deck with a few accents of color (a touch of red in the pomegranate from the Death card and some blue to shade in the seas in the Three of Wands) but the Paper Oracle is in full color, and the coloring is absolutely beautiful.

There’s something about The Knife card that I really love. Here it stands in the place of the Lenormand Scythe card. Maille changed the Scythe card to the Knife to better convey the idea of cutting, sharpness, and danger, whereas the traditional Scythe card tends to evoke death. Here, the Knife card is about “cutting things away.”

While upon a quick glance across a tableau layout of all the cards side by side you’ll notice that most tend to be in warm tones, the few cool-toned cards, like The Ring, or The Storm, and The Stars really pop.

Loving the Sisyphus reference in The Mountain, which is a card of obstacles and burdens. I also love the guidebook’s description for The Mice– “They’re not as cute as they might look. The Mice indicate decay and a sense that things are at risk.”

I really wish The Paper Oracle could be picked up by a traditional deck publisher. It’s an exquisite pocket-size deck and the guidebook is really well-written and easy to follow for total beginners.

The artwork is fresh, sentimental to the modern reader, and yet timeless. This is the type of oracle deck that is relevant today, and will be relevant in a hundred years. And while a product of the 21st century, there’s also an antique aesthetic here, with artwork that dips a bit into the illustration work you saw during the Victorian Era.

I’ve been reading with the full 43-card deck and have found it to be tender, heartfelt, and luminously clear in its messaging.


8 thoughts on “The Paper Oracle: A Lenormand Deck by Eric Maille

  1. As a Goddess-worshiping woman, think having the Full Moon as “non-binary” is insulting … Yes, I know there are cultures that depict the moon as male but the moon is generally female, the mature woman, the MOTHER, the second of the triad of maiden-mother-crone.

    All those Full Moon rituals in which I have participated … calling out the name of the GODDESS .. those weren’t to a non-binary deity. It was to a deity in the shape & form of a WOMAN. That’s the whole fucking point. That’s why so many of us left patriarchal religions to begin with.

    I’m not surprised that this was created by a male person. Female erasure, anyone?

    Other than that, I have no complaints with this deck … well, the stupid name.


    1. Hi there. I own this deck and wanted to chime in because wow ok. Plain and simple? Benebell made a goof. The image on the nonbinary card is Pluto, NOT the moon. The moon is on the moon card (… I mean, as it should be). The masculine (man/gentleman) card shows Mars and the feminine (lady) card shows Venus. Eric chose Pluto for the nonbinary card as Pluto got demoted as an official planet and as such he calls it a “non-traditional planet”. So having 3 planets (“planets”, sorry Pluto) as the gendered cards it is kind of its own mini theme.

      There is NO erasure going on in this deck (unless you are a Lenormand purist and take issue with something like the scythe being renamed the knife). It’s unfortunate Benebell made a goof with her review here as it caused you to wrongly go after a creator.


  2. I LOVE this deck, whereas I generally hate lenormand and just have no real instinctive feel for it, but this feels great to me, much more expansive and charming than the ‘uh oh bad news for Napoleon’ tradition of the system. Thank you for pointing it out to us here! I ordered it, and was thrilled to see that some of the original artwork was for sale, and I scooped some up–it’ll be really charming to frame and enjoy.


  3. Ariel

    Did u ever read the review?? It says very clear that the non binary card was inspired following the example of Siolo Thompson, who made the same in her own lenormand deck. As far as I know, Siolo is a woman and very talented in her craft…so, unless you have a serious problem dealing with the idea of non binary gender ppl, there is no such thing in this deck like a male creator trying to erase women. Benebell made a lil mistake (surprise, she is human) but it seems its more easier for u to go after the creator; being disrespectful with him, his deck and the lady who runs this blog and giving us a lecture about a well known topic seasoned with your personal thougts in a very rude way. Unless you have no idea about the lenormand oracle system and its imagery, what’s the point on your rant?


  4. Pingback: The Endless Oracle by Eric Maille – benebell wen

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