Chinese Oracle Script Divination Cards

Instagram Pic Cards Snapshot

While writing my forthcoming second book, tentatively titled The Tao of Craft, I had to do some intense study of oracle bone script. That’s where the knowledge for the card content comes from. All citations to the amazing references I used are in the book, but one person I want to thank right away is Richard Sears, who runs ChineseEtymology.org. Now, as for the inspiration, that’s a little harder for me to convey.

On a morning I was to drive my parents to the airport, I thought I heard a voice speaking to me in my room, while I was sleeping in bed, and that woke me up. Then after that, no matter how hard I tried to go back to sleep, I couldn’t, so I relented, booted up my computer, and in that same sitting, a complete first draft of this deck was done. I talk more about the conception of this deck in the accompanying 55-page Guidebook. The deck itself is made up of 33 cards.

Card Images Snapshot
Screenshots of the first 18 cards

These cards are not for sale, but I am offering a free license for you to use them. Keep reading for now. (Or skim and scroll down. Whatevs.)

Continue reading “Chinese Oracle Script Divination Cards”

Magical Times Empowerment Cards: Deck Review

Magical Times - Box Cover

The Magical Times Empowerment Cards by fantasy illustrator and writer Jody Bergsma, who is just a master at watercolor, which you’ll see throughout the images of this deck. Part art deck and part channeling tool, these cards will have you believing in magic again.

Magical Times - Card Set

The card dimensions are standard size for an oracle deck, 3.375″ x 5.125″ on sturdy cardstock that has just a subtle sheen to it, but not glossy. It’s a really great finish for an oracle deck. Unlike most oracle decks these days, which are accompanied by perfect-bound little companion books with full color covers, this deck comes with a little white booklet (LWB) as you’d find with most tarot decks. The deck is published by U.S. Games Systems, but interestingly enough, it was sent to me by Llewellyn for review, so there seems to be some interesting publisher collaborations going on behind the scenes. (Not that I have any firsthand knowledge; all pure speculation on my part.)

Continue reading “Magical Times Empowerment Cards: Deck Review”

Journey of Love Oracle Deck Review

Journey of Love Oracle 01 Box Cover

The Journey of Love oracle deck by Alana Fairchild and illustrated by two artists, Rassouli and Richard Cohn, was published by Llewellyn (Blue Angel Publishing) in 2014. It’s printed in the same style common among modern oracle decks right now, with the larger dimensions, sticky high-gloss finishes, and vibrant contemporary art.

Journey of Love Oracle 02 Deck Set

There are 70 cards in total, along with a sizable perfect-bound guidebook. Alana Fairchild has rapidly ascended to the top of the New Age Movement. She is based out of Australia and is the bestselling author/creator of guided meditation CDs, books on angels and crystals, etc., and exquisite oracle decks that tend to be inspired by the divine feminine. There’s the Kuan Yin Oracle deck, the Isis Oracle, Mother Mary Oracle, and Sacred Rebels, among others. I have the Kuan Yin deck (my review posted here), this one, and the Sacred Rebels (review forthcoming). I love the Sacred Rebels deck, like, a lot, but I might actually love this one, the Journey of Love oracle more.

Continue reading “Journey of Love Oracle Deck Review”

The Kuan Yin Oracle Deck: A Review

Kuan Yin Oracle Deck - 01 Box Cover

The Kuan Yin oracle deck by Alana Fairchild with art by Chinese painter Zeng Hao caught my attention as soon as it came out on the market. It’s published by Blue Angel, an affiliate partner with Llewellyn. I wanted the deck for Zeng Hao’s breathtaking artwork and also because it’s Kuan Yin.

Both my paternal and maternal grandmothers venerated Kuan Yin and so did my husband’s maternal grandmother. My mother has an altar in our home for Kuan Yin. When I was little and afraid of the dark, not wanting to go to sleep, crying out for mommy, my mother would come in to my room and tell me to recite this mantra that included Kuan Yin’s name, which would keep me protected. Kuan Yin is the energy I invoke any time I seek protection or personal fearlessness. I never really thought of her as the “Divine Feminine,” but okay I can work with that interpretation.

(As a practicing Buddhist who has studied at monasteries since the age of ten, I’ve literally never heard Kuan Yin associated with the “Divine Feminine” until white people got involved. Just saying.)

Kuan Yin Oracle Deck - 06 Pick a Card

To kick off this review, let’s start with a divination for you. Look at the three cards above and choose one, left, center, or right. Be receptive to what message most needs to be conveyed to you right now. Hold that thought. Continue reading “The Kuan Yin Oracle Deck: A Review”

“A Sea of Calm” Mandala Oracle Deck

Sea_of_Calm_Mandala_Oracle_01Deck

A Sea of Calm is a self-published 52-card mandala oracle deck by Fiona Stolze. I got a deck from the second printing and just love the artwork. In true contemporary oracle deck form, each card features a keyword or phrase, which can be applied to the divinatory exercise at hand. The deck has a calming, soft energy with exquisite mandala art by Stolze. These are paintings on silk printed onto borderless cards with captions like “Embracing the Divine Feminine,” “Thy Will Be Done,” or “Synthesis.”

Sea_of_Calm_Mandala_Oracle_08Cards

The cards are a good fit in my hands, at 2.75″ x 4.75″ and altogether make for a rather slim deck, so it transports easily alongside a tarot deck. The deck description on Stolze’s website notes that the deck is ideal for meditation and contemplation.

Mandalas are, in a nutshell, an art form intended to express the artist’s perspective of the universe, or a certain part of the universe. Religiously, they’re used to help establish sacred space. Thus, an oracle deck of mandala art would be ideal for practitioners who use tarot or oracle decks in meditation. I’d imagine they’d work pretty well, too, for work on the astral plane.

Continue reading ““A Sea of Calm” Mandala Oracle Deck”

Deck Review of the Tao Oracle Cards by Ma Deva Padma

Tao Oracle Deck 01 First Three

I’ve fallen in love… with the Tao Oracle deck by Ma Deva Padma published by St. Martin’s Press. This is the I Ching oracle deck. It’s a deck of 64 cards based on the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching Book of Changes. Padma’s paintings are emotional, textured, and fully expressive of each of the hexagrams they represent. A quote from the artist: “The evolution and creation of my paintings is sparked by a deep and intensely personal journey into the realm of the subconscious — the kingdom of archetypes and the home of mysterious symbols.”

Tao Oracle Deck 02 Packaging

The deck is beautifully packaged in a sturdy high-gloss box. It comes with a 310-page perfect-bound guidebook that contains the author’s personal interpretations of the 64 hexagrams. St. Martin’s Press really out-does the more popular tarot and oracle deck publishers du jour. I cannot praise the quality of this deck enough.

Continue reading “Deck Review of the Tao Oracle Cards by Ma Deva Padma”

Review of the Psychic Tarot for the Heart Oracle Deck

IMG_6740

The Psychic Tarot for the Heart oracle deck by renowned American psychic medium and author John Holland is keenly accurate. I recommend having it on hand, whether you know nothing about tarot and oracle cards or you’re a pro. It’s great for pulling cards when a sub-issue raised during a tarot reading might need supplemental information, which is how I use it. If you’re not that into tarot, then this is a really great deck to have, because you simply ask a question, pull a card, and the keyword you get pretty much answers that question and in this deck, a picture truly does tell a thousand words. The end. You don’t have to learn any traditions or take this deck to bed and study each card symbol by symbol. I can’t put my finger on why exactly this deck works so well, but it does.

However, I’m not so sure it’s suitable for professional readers as the exclusive tool. If you’re programmed to read tarot and love tarot and eat, sleep, and breathe tarot, then I would surmise that the Psychic Tarot for the Heart oracle deck won’t be right for you. That said, I highly recommend this deck for gift-giving, especially to those who are not full-force into tarot but are looking for a go-to oracle deck that will answer questions succinctly and be really spot on in its assessment of a given situation. On a mass consumption level, it’s actually a fantastic oracle deck for asking quick questions and getting quick answers. The messages and affirmations in the accompanying Guidebook are empowering and I really mean it– it’s an extraordinary oracle deck [for someone not that into tarot] to consult everyday.

Tarot folk can get very set in our ways, which isn’t a good thing, but because of how set we can be, sometimes getting such a person to try out an oracle deck like this one may be a hard sell. If, however, you’re someone who loves oracle decks already, then without reservation I’m telling you you’re going to like this deck.

Keys 0-5 in the Psychic Tarot for the Heart Oracle Deck
Keys 0-5 in the Psychic Tarot for the Heart Oracle Deck

Continue reading “Review of the Psychic Tarot for the Heart Oracle Deck”

The Lenormand: Nutshell Summary of the Petite Lenormand, from History to Practice

lenormand1

The popularity of Lenormand cards seem to have been revived for contemporary times, at least here in the U.S. Lately it seems that every tarot enthusiast will go through a phase of intrigue for these Lenormands. Well the other day a student asked me to guide her studies of the Lenormands. From there, I decided to write this nutshell summary. For the tarot enthusiast who has now suddenly taken on an interest in Lenormand cards, this post will serve as an introduction.

Overview

They’re oracle cards, not tarot, and generally speaking, they’re sub-divided into 2 kinds: the Petit Lenormand, with 36 cards total, which is the more popular version here in the U.S., and the Grand Jeu Lenormand, with 54 cards. I have not yet dabbled with the Grand Jeu Lenormand due to difficulties in getting a deck where I live (that is, for an economically reasonable price…because, sure, you can buy anything via the Internet these days), so I’ll focus on the Petit Lenormand only.

The oracle cards are named after Marie Anne Lenormand, who is considered one of the greatest and most influential French cartomancers of all time. However, the cards were not conceived by her. They were conceived after her death and may or may not have even been based on any of the cards used by Marie Anne Lenormand. They’re called “Lenormand cards” pretty much for marketing purposes. In fact, they may not even be French. Johann Kaspar Hechtel, a German businessman and factory owner, is credited with designing the Petit Lenormand cartomancy deck, initially as a parlour game called “The Game of Hope.” So in many ways, the name “Lenormand cards” might be a bit misleading.

Continue reading “The Lenormand: Nutshell Summary of the Petite Lenormand, from History to Practice”

I Ching Dead Moon Oracle Deck: Gothic Asian?

Name of Deck : I Ching Dead Moon Oracle Deck
ISBN : 978-0738732602
Publisher : Lo Scarabeo
Publication Date : March 5, 2012
Card Size : 2.5” x 4.5”
Authors/Illustrators : Luis Royo
Total No. of Cards : 64

I love the I Ching Dead Moon oracle deck by Luis Royo… As a collector’s item, that is.

Royo’s artwork in Dead Moon is what I’ll describe as East Asian post-punk gothic rock that borrows imagery from Japanese samurai culture and imperial China, altogether with lots of blood, wild black hair, and intricate tattoos. And the consistent depiction of inclement weather in the backdrop.

In other words, awesome.

Sure, there’s some hypersexualization and exotification of Asian women in there, but let’s just agree that post-colonial social politics will be beyond the scope of this deck review.

Without question Royo’s Dead Moon deck is one of the best on the market when it comes to art. It is an oracle deck, however, and not tarot in the traditional sense. As it is based on the I Ching, the oracle deck has 64 rather than 78 cards, each corresponding with one of the hexagrams from the I Ching. However, the Dead Moon I Ching deck is haphazard with the illustrations. They don’t necessarily correspond with the hexagram it’s supposed to represent. Other I Ching oracle decks, such as the I Ching Tarot by Kwan Lau, depict images that the illustrator believes represents the meaning of the hexagram. If that was Royo’s intention, then it may have failed, at least for me.

deadmoonhx2

For example, Hexagram 2, Kun, or Earth, represents stability, support, strength, fertility, nourishment, etc. It’s a hexagram that reminds us to be calm and receptive to the natural world around us. In other I Ching oracle decks I’ve come across, Hexagram 2 is usually represented by a tree or a Mother Earth type figure. In the Dead Moon deck, we’ve got a half-naked forlorn looking woman who is kneeling, looking down. There may or may not be a waterfall in the background. It’s an incredible work of art, no question, but perhaps not the most comprehensive image to symbolize Hexagram 2. Not to mention there are no words on any of the cards to suggest what the hexagram you’re looking at is, other than the number. So either you know it or you don’t. No hints, anywhere.

As a result I found it difficult to use. When the I Ching is used on its own for divination, you consult the book after yarrow stalks or tossing coins or what have you. When the tarot is used on its own for divination, you interpret the meaning through the imagery and symbolism on the cards. A divination fusion of I Ching and tarot, one would think, would mean the ability to interpret the meaning of the hexagram via the imagery and symbolism on the oracle card. For Dead Moon, not so much.

deadmoon4

For instance, Hexagram 9, Shiao Chu, is about restraint and propriety. I just don’t get that from the card’s imagery. In fact, the woman on that card looks sexually inviting. Hexagram 11, Tai, is about reaping the fruits of your labor; success. Stunning artwork in Hexagram 11, but it makes no sense as applied to the meaning of Hexagram 11. Hexagram 22, Bin, is about grace and beauty. The image of the woman depicted therein kind of works for me but also kind of doesn’t. If I didn’t know the meaning of Hexagram 22 prior to encountering that card, I would not have guessed “grace and beauty.” Maybe melancholy.

The deck did not work for me when I applied traditional I Ching divination techniques and it did not work when I applied it to my go-to tarot and cartomancy spreads. I know I said that that post-colonial social politics is beyond the scope of this review, but the scantily clad, sexually objectified Asian women were offensive to me. Aren’t we beyond that kind of antifeminist and racist behavior yet?

deadmoon3

What’s more, to use Dead Moon as an oracle deck, the practitioner would need to be quite advanced and highly knowledgeable already of the 64 hexagrams. With no keywords, no card titles, illustrations that for the most part have little to do with the hexagrams, none of the symbolism of the original I Ching, and a barebones booklet that offers a shallow interpretation of Tao, if you don’t know the I Ching going into the Dead Moon, you won’t learn much about it after using the deck. Truth be told, I found the artsy-gothic-lots-of-sexy-Asian-women-and-hot-warriors deck of cards unappealing as a representation of the Tao, which I deeply regard.

deadmoon2

Dead Moon is not a tarot deck in the traditional sense and will be a leap for tarot readers to use. So from a marketing standpoint, who exactly is Royo targeting?

Collectors.

The I Ching Dead Moon is going to be a favorite in any tarot/oracle deck collection. The art is beautiful and the dark ambiance of the deck is altogether thrilling. However, for me, that is where the Dead Moon’s purpose ends. It does not work for divination under either of the two esoteric paradigms it claims to be inspired by, tarot or I Ching. It is pretty to look at and that is about it.