This is going to be a walk-through of the Metaphysical Cannabis Oracle deck, and not a full-on review. This Liminal 11 deck is the debut publication of Maggie Wilson, a cannabis sommelier, and is illustrated by Ejiwa Ebenebe.
I’m describing this as just a walk-through and not a deck review because I won’t be deep-diving into the substance of its system. I’m not sufficiently qualified to be doing an intelligent review of the deck, so all I can really offer are my first impressions.
Upon first impression, without taking a closer look, my immediate presumption was a tarot deck, and it wasn’t until a second glance that I realized this is being presented as an oracle. You could convince me that the first card is a Fool card, then Manifesteer: Creation is The Magician card, then The Witch Doctor: Wisdom is The High Priestess, the queen mother Sarauniya Uwa: Nurture is The Empress, and Sarki: Stability is The Emperor.
I mean, the tarot architecture was undoubtedly a direct source of inspiration. Next you’ve got Tradition, a very Hierophant-y card, then Union for a stand-in of The Lovers, then a very Chariot card next, Strength, and so on. Wait, I mean this is totally a tarot deck! Right?
The card Anchorita, assigned the keyword Solitude, coming after that Strength-esque card, is very Hermit. Upon a somewhat closer read of the guidebook, however, I’m starting to see why it might have been marketed as an oracle deck instead of tarot. A more generous creative license is taken with the meanings of each card (and later, the Minor Arcana suit structure) than you might normally find in a classical tarot deck.
But I’m totally here for that! If you want to work with this deck as a tarot deck, I think you can. The product description notes that the deck consists of 78 cards, though the cards are subdivided into six suits: Meta Arcana (mirroring the Major Arcana), Physical suit, Cannabis suit, Oracle suit, Integration suit, and a Culture suit. So the structure does diverge a bit from a traditional tarot.
Ebenebe’s artwork is exquisite. I love the vibrant colors and seamless integration of folklore and modernity. Use of lines express a sense of speed, stimulation, and incitement. You feel ecstasy, joy, and celebration from the color palette.
There is a modern reinterpretation of Yoruba, Santeria, and Candomblé traditions, which people will feel differently about. Yet such a progressive reinterpretation of tradition is in line with the deck’s theme– that of the meta, or beyond, of transcending the status quo and the past. The deck creator’s religious and spiritual background integrates the rituals and esoteric teachings of the Lakota and Cherokee, so you’ll see those influences in the deck as well.
In recent weeks (from the date of this posting), controversy has hung a cloud over the debut of Wilson’s Metaphysical Cannabis. I’m getting this info second-hand as hearsay, so take it within that context. In the community of Tarot Tube deck reviews, critical albeit well-reasoned and balanced comments of the deck and skepticism of the author’s professional/biographical representations surfaced.
The deck creator then took to Twitter and Instagram to clap back in response to the negative reviews. I did personally see some of the first clap back tweets, and while I would not have recommended that an author ever comment publicly in response to negative reviews, I didn’t necessarily see those tweets as too out of line or bullying. If subsequent and worsening commentaries were made, then that I don’t know. In any regard, collectively Tarot Tube felt that the creator engaged in bullying tactics and had launched personal attacks on the reviewers. Cue controversy cyclone.
There’s a teachable moment here, for debut deck creators and authors. It’s generally a bad look when you clap back to negative reviews. The world of book and deck reviews is not for us, the authors. It’s for the readers. Even where you believe there has been misinformation about your work or who you are, it might be better to just let it go. Don’t engage. Don’t try to correct or explain. And don’t be demeaning or condescending toward reviewers who end up not liking your deck.
It’s a hard and bitter lesson to learn. I sympathize so much with authors and creators who experience the emotional pain of hearing negative reviews. It’s impossible to not take it personally. (This is why you’ll often be given the advice to never read reviews of your work.) And yet it’s a rite of passage that every author learns the hard way– you’ve got to turn the other cheek and just move on. It’s okay that not everyone loves what you do. You have to just accept that sometimes, you’ll be misunderstood. Yes it hurts to be misunderstood. But if you want to be an author/creator, then it’s part of your job to learn how to deal with it.
From a cursory first impressions of Metaphysical Cannabis Oracle, I’m really loving it. The card titles and keywords work really well. I absolutely see how the creator’s intention was for this deck to be medicine, and it does work well as spiritual medicine. The artwork, keywords, and guidebook work in harmony to bring you a sense of calm. And as modern as the style might be, it effectively taps into some powerful Old World magic. And I feel it.
Wilson’s divination system, integrative and intersectional, brings out the best of many worlds. I interpreted the theme of cannabis as that of healing and medicine, of a spiritual power that, like all powers, must be wielded responsibly and prudently. Medical cannabis appeared in ancient Egypt as early as 2,000 BC. In the first century AD, use of cannabis in pharmacology and as an anesthetic was recorded in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Since medieval times and ongoing today, racial and socioeconomic inequity is tethered to society’s perceptions of medicinal and ritual use of cannabis. A deck such as Metaphysical Cannabis positions itself to begin dismantling some of the negative preconceived prejudices that exist around cannabis use.
From visions of intergalactic starseed space-time travel to African Traditional Religions (ATR), New Age sacred geometry to Hermetic philosophy, Blavatskian Theosophy to the new quantum spirituality birthed by social media and the Digital Age, scenes of indigenous life to the urban enclaves, this deck is eclectic in scope. The central theme is that of the Meta universe, both a play on 21st century social media spirituality and the epistemological Latin origins denoting transcendent knowledge.
For the modern cartomancer, the Metaphysical Cannabis Oracle checks a lot of boxes, and it brings in enough tarot for the deck to be familiar. It’s easy to paint on your established tarot system of interpretation and augment that with the multicultural heritage and systems of wisdom this deck syncretizes. Ultimately, it is an oracle deck that has formulated a unique system and architecture, prismatic and stylistically unique with its own brand of sass.
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 the Metaphysical Cannabis Oracle from the publisher for prospective review. Everything I’ve said here is sincere and accurately reflects my opinion of the deck.