Deck Review, Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: Wild Wisdom of the Faery

Deck: Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle
Publisher: Blue Angel
Writer: Lucy Cavendish
Artist: Selina Fenech
Overall Rating: 5/10

image (c) Blue Angel. Cards shown are: Lift the Darkness, Acorn’s Invitation, Star Dust, and Into the Woods

Cardstock: They’re pretty flexible and smooth, but the cards are nearly too large for me to shuffle. They measure about 5.5″ tall and 3.75″ wide (or 14cm x 9.5 cm). Still, I manage to get them mixed up well with a combination of shuffling methods. The deck box is a two part hard case, which so far is holding up well.

Artwork: The artwork appears to be mostly traditional media, but the artist’s website says that she often begins with watercolor or acrylic, and then adds a little more in digital form afterwards. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m generally a sucker for watercolors. A lot of the art is pretty “twee”, almost all the fairies have wings, and while there’s a range of sizes (from tiny to human-sized), there’s not much by way of diversity of body shape or skin tone (mostly femme, white, thin, and wearing filmy clothing). The cards also have the name and keywords written over the image, despite the rather large border, and the contrast isn’t great on a few of them.

Book: The booklet pretty large, about 170 pages, though the beginning is a bunch of New Age Fairy Nonsense that sees Them as mainly benevolent (if tricksy) nature angels, and says that all the stories of bad luck and negative encounters are a product of Church propaganda. For example, they define the Unseelie Court by saying: “not so fond of humans, as they feel we have been very harmful. Most of the Unseelie’s [sic] have ‘given up’ on us. ‘Tis up to us to prove them wrong.” Yeah okay, I guess maybe kelpies eat people because they… littered? Sure, okay, let’s just ignore several centuries of living belief and practice. [/sarcasm]
The booklet does include a few interesting spreads, though I still can’t advise invoking the Fair Folk or asking them for divinatory advice on your life situations, the way it recommends.
The descriptions of the cards themselves have a few paragraphs of description and then a few paragraphs each of divinatory meanings and reversed meanings, which is always helpful. The cards all have their number on the top border, so you can flip through the book to find them, but they aren’t in alphabetical order.

Likes: I like the general art style, though I wish it depicted a more diverse cast. I also do actually really like the amount of information the booklet gives for each card, because as I’m learning a new deck I really like to figure out what the writer and artist were both thinking, so I can better understand their symbolism, and build that into my intuitive readings. I do also like it when there are a couple of keywords on the card when it’s an oracle deck, because with those there’s no set of meanings like there is with tarot, lenormand, or runes.

Dislikes: Basically the entire introductory section in the the book. And the lack of diversity. And the borders, and how the keywords aren’t well contrasted. The size of the cards.

Overall Recommendation

TL;DR: if this one goes missing or gets water damaged, I probably won’t buy a new one. A lot of my clients seem to like the artwork, but I never use this one for my own personal readings unless I can’t use something better. I bought it a while back because it was pretty, but this one really is a bit too twee for my tastes. The Faery Forest Oracle by Lucy Cavendish again, but with artwork by Maxine Gadd, is a bit less twee, and I find that they work okay together, for better rounded answers. The Wild Wisdom of the Faery Oracle sugarcoats like a candy store, so if you’re looking for a very gentle deck with a sunny disposition and cute artwork, it’ll probably serve you well, but I think a fair few of my readers will be put off by the twee.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Everyday Tarot

Deck: The Everyday Tarot
Publisher: Running Press
Writer: Brigit Esselmont of Biddy Tarot
Artist: Eleanor Grosch
Overall Rating: 7/10

image (c) Running Press. Cards shown are: Five of Swords, Death, and King of Wands

Cardstock: The cards are smaller than normal tarot cards, closer to poker card sized, and it can be a little awkward to shuffle all 78 of them. The cardstock is of good quality, though, not too slick and not too rough, and the printing is very vibrant. I find the borders not too distracting, and the gilded edges are a nice touch.

Artwork: The artwork is tricolor (white, gold, and purple) and combines flat white, luminous gold, and a watercolor textured purple. The images are done mainly with the human figures in silhouette, and a sort of minimalistic theme overall, but they’re recognizable to those familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith system, and have enough intricacies to be beautiful, rather than boring.

Book: The booklet is about the same size as the cards and 87 pages long. It has a short paragraph for each upright and reversed meaning for each card, which is a pretty good amount of information, but does not contain a list of keywords. Somewhat unusually, there isn’t any more information on the majors than there is on the pips.

Likes: It’s pretty straightforward, like a minimalist version of the RWS, and therefore an easy deck to read for anyone used to that system. I really do like the artwork, though I wasn’t sure about it at first. It grew on me.

Dislikes: I was somewhat surprised that the deck didn’t contain the two lists of keywords that are listed on the Biddy Tarot website! And the cards are somewhat awkward to shuffle, as I mentioned above. I also don’t really like the box. It’s a magnetic clasp wrap like the cover of a book, with no top or bottom, but there’s a clear plastic case for the cards that’s rather flimsy, and to get the booklet to stay in, it has to be inserted in a slot in the cover. I’ll be moving this one to a knit bag, probably.

Overall Recommendation

I think in a different carrying case this would make a very good travel deck. I think it would make a good first deck for new readers, if combined with the resources on the Biddy Tarot website. It occupies a niche in my collection somewhere around “neutral-pretty”, and may make a good in-person reading deck, though because of the pandemic I really haven’t been doing that lately. I’m glad I own it, but this is not one of the ones I’d buy again immediately if I misplaced it.

Deck Review, Reviews

Oracle Deck Review: The Vintage Wisdom Oracle

Deck: The Vintage Wisdom Oracle
Publisher: US Games Systems, Inc
Writer & Artist: Victoria Mosely
Overall Rating: 8/10

image (c) US Games Systems. Cards shown are Release and Ancestors

Cardstock: They’re maybe a little thicker than I would like, considering the size of the cards. They measure 5.5″ tall and 3.75″ wide (or 14cm x 9.5 cm). My hands can’t riffle shuffle them very easily, but I manage with a combination of shuffling methods. The deck box is a two part hard case, which holds up well.

Artwork: The artwork is mixed media, using old photographs and paintings as the base, onto which the artist has added embellishments, both physical and digital. I really enjoy the dreamlike quality of it, and some of the base images are recognizable to me. (At least one of the cards is a Waterhouse painting.) If the art doesn’t speak to you, though, that would probably knock a whole point off my review.

Book: The booklet pretty large, 75+ pages, with 5-8 paragraphs describing each card and its meaning. The cards are all in alphabetical order which is a really nice feature, and makes it easier to look up a card. It also includes five example spreads at the end, and instructions for laying the cards.

Likes: I really like the artwork. It matches the card titles pretty well, and also most of card titles are pretty straightforward: Abundance, Adventure, Ancestors, Awakening, etc. This deck lends itself well to intuitive reading.

Dislikes: I would have liked the cards a touch smaller for easier shuffling. Also, some of the cards have more Christian symbolism than I prefer, despite the deck in general being very new age neutral.

Overall Recommendation

This is my go-to deck for messages from Ancestors, partly because it’s so easy to read intuitively. But as with some of the others I’ve reviewed, one’s enjoyment of the art will make or break this deck. If you don’t like the art style, if it doesn’t speak to you, it will lose most of its magic.

Celtic Polytheism, Divination, Paganism

Crow Folks: A Divination

Imbolc is usually the end of my run of Dark Moon rituals to Na Morrigna, but this year, as with last, I’ve been asked to continue. This month the journey did not leave me with succinct quotes or a rough poem, but rather I was called to draw a few cards and then discuss the themes therein. I tend to use the Archeon Tarot deck for “Morrigna Stuff”, and lately I’ve been incorporating ogham in as well, so here’s what I drew:

The Ace of Pentacles, The Two of Pentacles (reversed), The Eight of Cups (reversed), and then nGetal.

For most of us, the beginning of a new secular calendar year brings with it a lot of reflection and change, as we lay out plans for the rest of the year, hopefully improving things that didn’t work out well in the last one. This year, there’s still a lot of uncertainty regarding the pandemic, and for those of us in the US, the political changeover associated with the new President and the outcomes of recent elections. We are gathering up what we can of our lives, though, and we’ve taken the first few steps on our journey through the new year. Many of us are bringing more unresolved issues than usual into the new year, and while January is somewhat liminal, February often brings harsh realities into focus, as we truly settle in. New problems will arrive soon (if they haven’t already) and will begin to exacerbate old problems we’ve carried over from last year, leaving us feeling like we’re juggling too many things, and in many cases, struggling with burn-out. Organization and mini self care breaks will help some, but ultimately it looks like this moon will be one of struggle as we decide how many difficulties we can actually juggle, and what me might need to let fall. One of the things we must prioritize is our own health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Many old wounds, never quite totally healed, have been reopened in the past year, and these need true healing, although it is likely the process will be exhausting and painful. Boundaries may need to be drawn sharply; things that drain us but provide no value should be excised from our lives like a scalpel removing a tumor. The last year was hard – this one will be harder still if we lose our footing.


Despite the somber tone of the conversation and reading, however, I felt nothing but warmth and encouragement from Na Morrigna Themselves. They are here to help us, and we are here to help each other, as we go through this month – and this year – together.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Mini Tarot of Pagan Cats

Deck: The Mini Tarot of Pagan Cats
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Writer: Magdelina Messina
Artist: Lola Airaghi
Overall Rating: 8/10

image (c) Lo Scarabeo

Cardstock: It appears to be Lo Scarabeo’s regular cardstock, so these are pretty sturdy despite being only 3 inches tall. They’re semi glossy and not too hard to riffle shuffle once you get used to the small size. The box is a little beat up, however, because this is the deck I usually take with in my purse.

Artwork: The artwork is pretty Rider-Waite-Smith inspired, except with cats. The art style is pretty realistic, and reminds me of some children’s books, with pretty detailed foregrounds and backgrounds that are either more sketched or just a solid color on a lot of the cards. Most of the cats are realistically proportioned and in natural poses, even when they’re depicted engaging in more human or fantastical activities.

Book: The booklet is in English, Italian, Spanish, and German, so each card has barely more than a phrase or a few keywords. I definitely would not recommend anyone using it as a main interpretation aid, unless they’ve already studied the tarot in depth and are using it as more of mnemonic aid. The booklet also contains one suggested 5-card spread.

Likes: I like the artwork; I think it’s cute. There are certainly a lot of pagans who like cats, and it’s somewhat easier not to project unconscious biases of race or gender accidentally when intuitive reading, because there aren’t human figures (although some of the titles are still gendered: The Empress, The King of Pentacles, etc). The small size is a plus, since I can carry it around with me, though Lo Scarabeo has quite a few decks in their catalog that are this mini size.

Dislikes: I think the booklet is basically useless, and could have been written much better than it was, even including the space constraints, but that’s really my only dislike.

Overall Recommendation

Obviously you’re not going to love this deck if you don’t like cats, but otherwise I think it’s a pretty good travel deck for anyone who’s a seasoned reader and familiar with the RWS system. The artwork lends itself well to intuitive interpretation, but has recognizable RWS imagery. There’s also a regular size edition of this deck, though I haven’t looked at that one in person, which may work better for those who want cards in the standard size, instead of the mini ones, which measure 3 inches x 1.75 inches.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: The Numinous Tarot

Deck: The Numinous Tarot
Publisher: self-published, Numinous Spirit Press
Writer & Artist: Cedar McCloud
Overall Rating: 10/10

image (c) Numinous Spirit Press

Cardstock: It’s pretty thick without being too stiff, and has lovely gilded edges. So far it’s holding up very well to moderate usage for the past year or so. It feels pretty good to riffle shuffle, and the cards don’t stick much but they are pretty glossy.

Artwork: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deck with artwork this representative. Age, race, ability, gender, size – the artwork is truly diverse. Some of the cards don’t have people on them at all, and those are all gorgeous as well. The attention to detail here, and the patterns on everything from the floors to the clothing, are very impressive. It’s a riot of color!

Book: This deck comes with a full paperback guidebook, not a LWB, with each card in black and white. The Major Arcana have about two pages each, and the Minors just one, but there’s a lot of material here, from descriptions of the scene itself, to keywords and thought-prompting discussions of both upright and reversed meanings. The language is pretty gender-neutral throughout, and the meanings are immersed in themes of social justice and healthy boundaries. The writing style is very accessible.

Likes: I love the diversity of the artwork and how queer it is, from depictions of gender-non-conforming folks, to the subversion of traditionally gendered tarot cards. Instead of Page, Knight, Queen, King, we have Dreamers, Explorers, Creators, and Mystics. The High Priestess becomes The Diviner, The Empress is The Nurturer, The Emperor is The Founder, The Hierophant is The Visionary. They are all still numbered for easy recall. Also, The Devil has been aptly renamed The Shadow, Judgement is now The Awakening, and McCloud added a 23rd Major, called The Numinous (whence the deck title). Suits have been renamed as well, but follow the traditional elements: Candles for Fire, Bells for Air, Vials for Water, and Tomes for Earth. The deck is at once tarot radically reimagined, and also familiar to students of the Rider-Waite-Smith system.

Dislikes: I think my only complaint is that some of the artwork is a little inconsistent, with some cards feeling more polished and some more sketchy, but there might be an intentional pattern to that seeming inconsistency.

Overall Recommendation

If you want a radically accepting queer-friendly deck that has truly diverse representation, you need this deck. I’ve been bringing it to pagan events just to show people! And for an indie deck, it’s really not very expensive. The artwork is very evocative, and is perfect for either a collector or an intuitive reader. It may take a little longer for students of the RWS system to get used to than the sort of decks that simply copying RWS imagery with cats or the like, but it isn’t an entirely new system and I found the transition fairly easy.

This is also my deck of the month for my Patreon for June, in honor of Pride Month!

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Tarot of the Hidden Realm

Deck: Tarot of the Hidden Realm
Publisher: Llewellyn Books
Writer: Barbara Moore
Artist: Julia Jeffries
Overall Rating: 10/10

image (c) Llewellyn Books

Cardstock: It’s supple and very shuffly, but doesn’t feel like I could tear it quite as easily as some of the other decks I’ve reviewed.

Artwork: I LOVE the artwork! The facial expressions are clear and the backgrounds are detailed. There’s plenty of symbolism for intuitive reading. I also really like that these are borderless!

Book: This deck comes with a full paperback guidebook, not a LWB. I like the book – there’s plenty of detail in it to jive off of without it feeling heavy handed. The writer describes the activities of the people in the art, too, to clarify some of the artwork and symbolism. There’s a whole chapter in the front if you’re new to divination, and a chapter in the back with a few spreads.

Likes: Um, Everything? I especially like that this deck is Fairy Themed without being really twee. (Spoilers: most Fae aren’t twee.) I also like some of the renamed Major Arcana (like Life Renewed, depicted above, to replace the very Christian “Judgement”). By far my favorite part is really just the amazing artwork, though!

Dislikes: Ummmmmmm a couple of the cards have artwork reminds me of a celebrity who may have been used as a reference and it’s a tiny bit distracting? That’s a bit of a reach, though. Otherwise… There’s no tuck box, just a large box that fits the book, so I had to find a bag for the cards to keep them in, because the original cardboard bit wasn’t going to keep the cards undamaged, long-term. I really can’t think of anything major.

Overall Recommendation

Now that I own this deck I am astonished that I let it linger on a wishlist for so long! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite decks, and probably my new go-to when dealing with any random personal spiritual nonsense in my life. If you like the artwork you might need this.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Shapeshifter Tarot

Deck: Shapeshifter Tarot
Publisher: Llewellyn
Writer & Artist: DJ Conway, Sirona Knight & Lisa Hunt
Overall Rating: 6/10

Card images (c) Llewellyn

Cardstock: It’s somewhat flimsy, but very springy to shuffle because of that, and the high gloss makes the cards slide against each other smoothly. It doesn’t have any nicked edges, but in the five years I’ve owned this deck it’s never been one of my go-to choices, so it hasn’t seen as much usage as some of my others. I’m not sure how it will hold up under heavy usage.

Artwork: The art is heavy on the blue/green/yellow part of the spectrum, and the images are soft watercolors with no hard outlines. The art almost looks a bit washed out in comparison to the dark blue borders. In keeping with the theme, many of the cards have figures that appear to be in the middle of shape-shifting, with animal imagery overlaying human figures. There’s also some implied nudity, so be aware of that.

LWB: The little white book is pretty useless if you’re looking for actual card meanings. The Majors each have a short paragraph, which is helpful, but the pips and court cards have 3-5 words and that’s it. I’m glad that we have more information for the Majors, though, considering they renamed almost all of them (Sorcerer and Sorceress for Magician and High Priestess, Mother and Father for Empress and Emperor, Circle for Wheel of Fortune, Shapeshifter for Hanged Man, Rebirth for Death, etc). They also added three cards: The Double, The Journey, and The Dreamer. The LWB also includes a couple of original spreads, which is nice.

Likes: I’m partial to air wands and fire swords, so I like that about this deck. I also generally find the artwork evocative, which helps considering how sparse the LWB is. I also like that the court cards are all depicting figures from Celtic mythology, and that these are clearly labeled in the LWB. For example: Gwydion and Arianrhod are the King and Queen of Wands, and Lugh and Brigid are the King and Queen of Swords.

Dislikes: I’m not really sure that the shapeshifting theme is really strong enough to carry this deck, and not all of the mythology choices for the court cards make sense within this context. Brigid, for instance, is depicted as shapeshifting into a wildcat of some variety, which seems an odd choice to me. I think transformation might’ve been a better theme, and would have given them a little more artistic leeway.

Overall Recommendation:

Overall I’m kinda lukewarm on this deck. If the idea of shapeshifting really resonates with you and you’re an intuitive reader, it’s probably perfect. If you’re looking for a deck that draws from Celtic mythology, you’re probably better off looking for something else. I like it, and I’m going to keep it in my collection, but I think it’s going to remain a deck I only use occasionally.

Deck Review, Reviews

Tarot Deck Review: Archeon Tarot

Deck: The Archeon Tarot

Publisher: US Games Systems, Inc.

Developer & Artist: Timothy Lantz

Overall Rating: 9/10

archeon fan
Image (c) US Gaming Systems, Inc

Cardstock:  Easy enough to shuffle.  Seems to stand up reasonably well to moderate use – several of the cards have nicked borders, but none of them are separating yet, though I’ve been using it pretty frequently in the past six months.  The tuck box is deteriorating, though, since I keep throwing it directly in my purse.

Artwork:  Back allows for reversals.  Black borders and greenish frame.  Card names on lower frame. Most artwork depicts human figures, animals, and pips, sometimes in ways that are reminiscent of the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith images.  Artwork is digital mixed media heavily based on model photography, and there’s a fair amount of artistic nudity but nothing I would consider pornographic.  Facial expressions of the models are fairly evocative and match card meanings.  Overall the artwork feel is somewhat dark and emotionally intense.

LWB: Pretty helpful, especially considering this is not a strict RWS deck.  Meanings are pretty consistent with traditional themes, though some of the gender symbolism (which I ignore anyway) is different.  Each Major entry begins with a short quotation, and a few explanatory paragraphs before a list of keywords for both uprights and reversals.  Each Minor entry begins with a short line that almost feels like poetry, to complement the artwork, and then gives keywords for both uprights and reversals.  For example, the 9 Wands above begins with “One by one, they aligned themselves with the stars.” It gives one spread example: Celtic Cross.  Does not give much information on how to read tarot.

Likes: The artwork was a bit intense for me at first but it grew on me, and it fits an empty space in my collection.  I’ve been using it as my go-to deck for talking to Na Morrigna.  I like how evocative the images are, because my primary mode of reading is very intuitive.

Dislikes: I usually buy tarot decks based on whether or not I fall in love with The Star, which is my personal significator… and I don’t love this one.  I also don’t like how the reversal keywords are basically just the opposites of the upright keywords.  There is so much more to reversals than that, and honestly that space could have been better used by providing more fleshed out meanings to the upright cards, since they usually have no more than about a half dozen words or phrases.  Also, the LWB has quite a few typos and formatting errors.

 

Overall Recommendation:

This is a solid deck for someone who’s familiar with tarot already, and likes reading intuitively based on artwork.  That said, the artwork definitely isn’t for everyone, and the nudity on the cards might make it difficult to use for in person readings in some public places.  It’s available for $20 on Amazon which is about average for a deck like this, by a big publisher.  Full disclosure, I have done a little modeling for the artist for another publication of his, but I paid for the deck myself.  He’s fairly local, and I got him to sign the title card at FaerieCon East a few years back.  In general I recommend this deck if the artwork speaks to you.

 

Divination, Other Updates, Tarot Spread

Relationship 5-card Spread

I started a series a while back of the tarot spreads I use in my Etsy Shop, but never finished it (whoops).  So here’s another installment: the 5-card version of my Relationship Tarot Spread.

Relationship 5 top
Yeah the “spread by” is my tumblr and not this blog, but I’m trying to head off reposts over there.

  1. This card is you.  Your wants, your needs, your concerns.  It encompasses your view of the relationship, and your influence on it.
  2. This card is the other person. Their wants, needs, concerns.  It represents their view, and their influence.
  3. This card is what uplifts you: what is going right, what is keeping you together. This represents the strengths of the relationship.
  4. This card is what pulls you down: what is going wrong, and what is pulling you apart. This represents the issues and weaknesses in the relationship.
  5. This is the general overview of the relationship: how are you doing on the whole?  It may also contain advice for the future.  If the querent had a specific concern or issue they wished to focus on, this card will focus on that aspect.

Pretty straightforward, right?  And applicable to any number of relationships, not just romantic ones.  I could just as easily use it to look at a friendship, or a parent-child relationship – anything between two people! I do have spreads that work for more than two people, but that tends to require more cards.  The smallest spread to look at a three-way relationship adds just one more card along the lines of card #2.

Stay tuned for the 9-card relationship spread, which is the next spread in my queue!