Oracle of Initiation: Rainbows in the Dark by Mellissae Lucia

Mellissae Lucia’s Oracle of Initiation was first released a decade ago in 2012, but it’s new to me, and I am utterly in awe of the breadth and scope of this divination system. This is a review of the deck, but also its 400-page companion book by the same name.

The Oracle of Initiation is the narrative story of one woman’s descent into the underworld and return. It is a mesmerizing photographic memoir of loss, initial resistance with numbness, realizing you need to surrender, and reawakening your inner magic.

At the age of 33, Lucia lost her husband to cancer. She entered limbo. But then she chose to live, to thrive, and supported by spirit guides along the way, went on a 7-year vision quest. These images chronicle her Artemis Return, a concept coined by Lucia.

Artemis

Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wild instinctive wisdom of the feminine within nature. She is a guardian of the untamed within all of us, the primal aspects of our original essence.

Working with Hecate

Like a Saturn Return, an Artemis Return is a cyclical return after a pivotal event in your life, in which you cross a threshold of catharsis, maturation, and awakening, and re-align with that wild instinctive wisdom within.

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NWTS 2022 (the Northwest Tarot Symposium) Recap

Whew! NWTS 2022 was a blast! This was Michelle and Roger of SoulTopia’s inaugural year as the organizers of NWTS, the Northwest Tarot Symposium in Portland, Oregon. And wow, what a comeback for NWTS, thanks to SoulTopia’s tireless efforts, persistence, and stewardship. This year, the tarot community really showed up for an impressive turnout, to the point where we might’ve outgrown the Monarch Hotel! Time for a bigger even more spacious venue? =)

Anyway, this is a casual recap of the event from my vantage point.

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Hummingbird Wisdom Oracle by Ellen Valladares and Yasmeen Westwood

This is a deck walk-through of the Hummingbird Wisdom Oracle by Ellen Wolfson Valladares and illustrated by Yasmeen Westwood, who also created the Tarot of Enchanted Dreams.

Hummingbird Wisdom is a 44-card oracle deck with thematic phrases and call-to-action oracular messages. It’s like a life coach in a box.

Gentle and sweet, these cards inspire you to fully enjoy the nectar of life. The messages are affirming and inspiring. Here, you see the Powerful Warrior. This hummingbird’s message to you: Do not feel small. You are stronger, braver, and more valued than you know. It’s time to tap into your true source of power.

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La Santa Muerte Lenormand by Dan M. Pelletier and Illustrated by Callie L. French

A Lenormand oracle deck for La Santa Muerte devotees, this beautifully crafted deck, both as thought form and fine art, will aid you in love, health, abundance, dealing with substance use, removing blockages, and working through legal troubles. Our Lady of the Holy Death is known for answering prayers that other saints will not; and likewise, this 38-card Lenormand oracle might take you where other Lenormand decks have not.

La Santa Muerte (Spanish for “Our Lady of the Holy Death”) is theorized to have originated from the Aztec deity Mictēcacihuātl, Goddess of Death. An alternate theory is a lineage to the Moirai of Greece, in the form of Parca Morta, the Fate of Death. La Parca is the feminized Grim Reaper dating back to the bubonic plague. Señora de la Noche, our Lady of the Night, is beloved and venerated by many communities across the Americas.

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Reading with the Livre du Destin (or Book of Fate)

A while back I shared zip file downloads of the above deck here. I called it the Petit Etteilla, because that’s what it was called on the British Museum page that I got the images from.

And then much smarter cartomancy community members pointed out that it’s actually a deck called the Livre du Destin, or Book of Fate.

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Petit Etteilla, Paris: H. Pussey, 1860-1886 (32-card piquet pack download)

What we call the “Petit Etteilla” refers to a class of 32-card piquet decks for cartomancy based on Etteilla’s 1770 text, which used the courts (Kings, Queens, Jacks), Aces, Tens, Nines, Eights, and Sevens from a playing card deck. To the 32-card pack, Etteilla added a 33rd card called “Etteilla” to designate the querent. And thus he proposed that the original Egyptian tarot pack consisted of 33 cards.

UPDATE: I referred to this deck as a “Petit Etteilla” because that’s how the British Museum referred to it. However, one of our community’s preeminent tarot historians, with a particularly vast amount of knowledge on the Etteilla, John Choma, came back with some clarifications.

This is not a Petit Etteilla deck, but an unrelated deck called the “Livre du Destin” (or Book of Fate), created some time in the mid-1800s. You can check out a few historic examples (thank you, John, for the links!): here (M. Violet, éditeur), here (Le Livre du destin), and here. These images are also notably similar to other 19th-century oracle decks like the 53-card Sibylle des Salons and the 36-card Petit Cartomancien.

This download of Petit Etteilla card images, courtesy of the British Museum, is the edition published between 1860 and 1886 by Jean-Henri Pussey in Paris, France. The originals were 70 mm x 111 mm, hand-colored etchings on pasteboard.

Petit Etteilla

(Originals, 70 mm x 111 mm)

CLICK ON LINK TO DOWNLOAD ZIP FILE

If you’re savvy with digital photo editing and graphic design, then work directly from the 70 mm x 111 mm originals, and format the layout design to your personal preferences.

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I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art (Free Download)

On AI Art

  • 2021 Dec. 5, How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing
    • Playing around with wombo.art
    • Is AI art indistinguishable from human-made digital art?
    • What principles determine great art?
    • Socratic & Platonic philosophy on art
    • Taoist & Confucian philosophy on art
    • Art composition: design theory
    • Disegno (Italian Renaissance)
    • Confucianist aesthetics
    • AI’s creative process vs. human artist’s creative process
    • Is AI doing a better job than humans?
  • 2021 Dec. 6, I Ching Oracle Cards with AI Generated Art (Free Download)
    • Having fun with AI generated art apps
    • AI art doesn’t “lack soul”
    • Who is the creator when it’s AI art?
    • Free download of I Ching oracle cards (AI generated art)
    • Zip files of all downloadable image files for hexagrams
  • 2022 Sep. 14, AI Generated Art + Tarot and Oracle Decks with AI
    • Personal dabblings with AI art
    • Does AI art lack soul?
    • Rising popularity of AI generated art decks
    • AI art won’t replace fine art (but may impact illustration)
    • What artists are saying
    • IP implications of AI art
    • Valuing AI generated art
    • More of my thoughts

I’ve been maybe a little bit obsessed with AI generated art apps, though not just because of the pretty art. Rather, my fascination comes from the way such AI generated art shifts my former paradigm on the mind-soul relation. Does an AI really lack soul? That’s the question I’ve been kicking around in my head.

After my blog post on How Do We Value Art? What AI art means for tarot and oracle deck publishing, one recurring sentiment expressed in the comments section on Instagram and Facebook was that the art created by an AI lacks soul, whereas art created by humans reflect the artist’s soul, and that is why human-created art is superior.

Really? Because I’m not convinced.

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Sawyer’s Nature Portals: Animal Oracle Deck

Ooh…this is my first circle animal oracle deck! Jamie Sawyer’s Nature Portals is a 52-card circle deck that features open portals for looking into the life of animals, amphibians, insects, birds, and marine life. The premise of the art is to capture a moment in that creature’s life, and allow us, an observer, to watch, listen, and to learn.

The cards are 100 mm in diameter, at 400 gsm cardstock, so there’s a noticeable sturdiness to them. You can really feel the intention of the portals transporting you to the animal world in that card back design. I also love that Sawyer went with a more artistic box design, rather than it being too commercial-focused.

click on image to visit Jamie Sawyer’s page

The deck also comes with a Nature Portals Companion Journal. You can buy a print copy of the journal here via Lulu.com and get the digital version of it here. The digital PDF of the journal is free with all purchases of the deck. You’ll get the the PDF upon check-out when you order Nature Portals.

The free companion journal is a 119-page full-color beautifully illustrated guidebook that labels what animals are depicted on each card, facts about each animal, keywords associated with that animal spirit, and then first-person insights into spiritual experiences with those particular animal spirits, written by both Jamie Sawyer and her mother, Gail Sawyer.

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A Lenormand Deck Showcase

I’ll be showcasing six Lenormand deck recommendations, each one different from the others in art style. Four of them are indie and two are traditionally published. These are decks that have been sent to me and for these types of collection showcases, I typically choose only from the decks sent to me for my collection.

Let’s take a look at how the Lenormand is illustrated in six different art styles. The first is what I’ll call contemporary kawaii cutecore; the second is Western European medieval art; the third is inspired by the Italian Renaissance; then the Lenormand in a black and white Victorian illustration style via digital collage; children’s picture book fairytale art; and fin-de-siècle, rendered through digital collage of illustration works by Pamela Colman Smith.

If you haven’t jumped onto the Lenormand bandwagon quite yet and you’re interested in learning a bit more about the system, I have a nutshell summary write-up from seven years ago, here (“The Lenormand: Nutshell Summary of the Petite Lenormand, from History to Practice“).

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Journey to the West (Monkey King) Taiwanese Playing Cards

Click on image files for enlarged view

This is kinda for Kim from FablesDen. I was listening to her chat with Wai here where she talked about wishing there was a Journey to the West tarot deck. While I don’t have that, and don’t know if one exists, I do have this very cool Journey to the West themed deck of playing cards.

Journey to the West is a Chinese epic from the 1500s. It’s about Tripitaka, a Buddhist monk from China’s ancient capital (think: somewhere in the central north of the modern-day country you’re familiar with) who is tasked by Kuan Yin to journey to India to receive Buddhist scriptures.

Kuan Yin frees the Monkey King, a trickster figure with magical abilities, from his incarceration, who was punished by the Buddha and imprisoned after he stole peaches of immortality from Heaven. In exchange for helping the monk on his quest, the Monkey King will not only be freed, but will achieve enlightenment.

White Dragon Horse, a banished dragon spirit transformed into a horse, serves as Tripitaka’s steed. At the end of the journey, the horse becomes a bodhisattva and is restored to his original white dragon form.

Pigsy, a philandering and gluttonous warrior general banished from Heaven’s army after he offended Chang’er, the moon goddess, is also tasked to accompany Tripitaka, as is Sandy, another former warrior general in Heaven exiled to the mortal realm due to anger management issues. It’s a quest story about a virtuous, principled monk and a band of misfits who fight or outsmart demons and survive supernaturally perilous terrain.

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