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.