A Collective Gathering Place for Readers, Writers, and Seekers

Conjure Cards, by Jake Richards

Conjure Cards: Fortune Telling Deck and Guidebook, by Jake Richards
Weiser Books, 1578637449, 64 Pages, 52 cards, May 2021

Reading fortunes using playing cards has a history as long as the history of playing cards themselves. Fortunes began to be told using playing cards soon after the cards were invented in the 14th century. This tradition has made its way into many different belief systems and practices, including Appalachian folk magic and conjure. Hence the name of the deck, Conjure Cards: Fortune Telling Deck and Guidebook, created by Jake Richards, a native of Tennessee and an expert in Appalachian conjure magic. 

I was interested in this deck because I’ve been reading playing cards for over a decade myself and I enjoy collecting playing card decks for this purpose. I had also recently read Richards’ book Doctoring the Devil.

What I did not expect was the dream interpretation aspect present in this deck. The author has melded Appalachian dream interpretations into the card meanings – an interesting addition that will probably create a bit of a learning curve for anyone that is familiar with reading playing cards but not familiar with Appalachian dream symbols.

One traditional and popular method of divining with playing cards is to generally read the red cards (diamonds and hearts) as “good” and the black cards (spades and clubs) as “bad”. I wouldn’t say that this deck’s official card meanings follow that rule in a strict way, but there are more than a few hints of it such as the Ace of Spades being the “death” card (this is a very traditional meaning), many of the diamond cards heralding good fortune, and some heart cards suggesting love and romance.

Knowing that these cards were based on playing cards, I’ll admit I was a little disappointed when I opened the box to find cards much larger than traditional playing cards. The cards measure 4.25” x 3”, which is not huge compared to most tarot or oracle decks, but they definitely aren’t as easy to move in the hands as a poker deck. Nor do they have a typical playing card finish that helps a traditional poker or bridge deck shuffle so well. The card-stock is sturdy without being overly thick and has a smooth finish.

However, the box is one of the best deck boxes I have ever seen. It is a paper box that has the look and feel of wood and a hinged top. The accompanying book is the same size as the cards and has 60 pages of card meanings along with a few spreads. 

There is a 3-card past-present-future spread, a relationship spread called The Jusem Sweet — a 9-card spread for showing “the thoughts, feelings, and stance of each person in the relationship”1Conjure Cards Guidebook2, and a 36-card spread for general readings aptly called The Bullfrog because once the cards are down you “hop” to every seventh card to read the cards in a specific order. 

I decided that to really understand the deck I would use The BullFrog spread to do a reading for a client. This was a time-consuming endeavor, but I’m attributing that to having to learn a new deck and a new spread, along with the sheer number of cards laid down. 

Several things in the spread came to light within 24 hours of the reading, and some of the things that my client has marked as goals showed up in the spread as future events that will take place in a few months. So, I counted this reading as very accurate and noticed that it had a variety of good news and a few uncomfortable items (such is life!). My client felt strongly that the reading had a few very specific items that rang true for what was happening in her life at the time. 

The addition of Appalachian dream symbol imagery creates some unique card meanings that differ from some other traditional playing card divination meanings but seeing that this author has such a deep knowledge of conjure and folk magic Conjure Cards might be exactly what some conjure magicians are looking for.  I would recommend this deck for anyone who has an interest in conjure/Appalachian folk magic or divining with playing cards.

Making Magick Oracle, by Priestess Moon

Making Magick Oracle: 36 Power symbols for manifesting your dreams, by Priestess Moon
Rockpool Publishing, 1925429992, 36 cards, 96 pages, December 2020

Priestess Moon, author and artist, is renowned for bringing universal symbols into a modern context, and this is certainly the case with her deck Making Magick Oracle: 36 Power symbols for manifesting your dreams.

An interesting synchronicity occurred that supported my desire to review this deck; a few weeks before I was aware of the opportunity to review it, a tarot reader who was gifting me with a reading pulled a bonus card for me from a mini version of this same deck. The name of the card she pulled was “Felix Felicitous,” which was described on the card itself as “a power symbol to create lucky, serendipitous events.” Being a big fan of sigil magic and symbols in general, I was intrigued by the card and its symbol. A few weeks later I had the opportunity to review this deck, and I count that as one of the lucky, serendipitous events that has come forth since that day.

Making Magick Oracle contains 36 power symbols from different time periods and traditions including medieval talismans and amulets, ancient symbols, alchemical glyphs, and sigils created by Priestess Moon. The accompanying book gives historical information on each symbol, how to use the symbol for divination, and how to use the symbol to manifest your dreams.

The deck is beautiful and unique; the cards are round and all black with gold symbols. The card stock is thick enough to hold up and thin enough to shuffle well, and has a slick, shiny finish. The deck is fairly easy to shuffle but I will note that my riffle shuffling caused them to quickly warp because of their round shape, so I would recommend an overhand shuffling technique.

The guidebook is beautifully made as well, with a luxurious matte black cover and symbols and type throughout the book printed in matte gold ink along with elegant graphics. The book and deck come in a matching hard box with a hinged top created with the same matte black and gold elegance as the deck and guidebook. As a deck collector I am always appreciative of a hard box that holds both deck and book.

Most of the time when I review a deck, I like to do quite a few readings with the deck first and then collect stories and feedback from the querents about how the reading landed with them. This deck however is a little different than most tarot and/or oracle decks I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in that this deck seems to want to be part of the actual process of making magic and not just a conduit for information.

As it says right on the title page of the accompanying booklet, these cards are here to help you manifest in a unique way. This booklet that accompanies the deck includes an excellent introduction on symbols, a blessing ritual for your deck (which I eagerly performed), and sections on cleansing your space, manifesting, and how to use the cards. The “how to” section gives quite a few helpful ideas, including some layouts and directions on using the cards as part of a crystal grid.

My first card drawn from the deck was a card called “Little Luxuries” with the description printed on the card itself as “Generates luxurious surroundings and experiences.” Just drawing the card felt luxurious, as I was yet unaware of all the card titles, and this one was so unique and lovely! I mean, who doesn’t want to have more luxurious experiences?! Later that evening my husband took me out to dinner at a fancy sushi restaurant — the first dinner out since the COVID-19 lockdown. That certainly felt luxurious!

I also pulled a card for a friend who is in the process of creating a business. The card that presented itself was named “Achievement — Win the award, accolade, or contract.” My friend replied to me that upon seeing the card they started to say, “I need all the help I can get,” but caught themselves before they could say it and instead just said “Thank you!”.

They then commented that it seemed like it must be working already since the first statement did not seem aligned with the achievement vibe of the sigil. They also remarked that they will be putting a picture of the sigil as their desktop wallpaper. That sounds like an idea very aligned with the suggestions in the book. I am expecting to hear of a big contract along with many accolades coming their way.

I would recommend Making Magick Oracle to anyone who is interested in magical symbols and sigil magic. The clear instructions for use make it suitable for anyone regardless of their previous knowledge of sigil magic or using symbols for manifestation. I have already begun using this deck in my own manifestation practice and am expecting these powerful symbols to help me yield great results.

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards, by Izzy Ivy

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards, by Izzy Ivy
Blue Angel Publishing, 1925538830, 56 cards, 148 pages, April 2020

Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards might be one of the most eye-catching decks I’ve ever played with. Creator Izzy Ivy’s masterful use of vibrant color highlighting fractal geometry, goddess-like entities, chakras, elementals and other powerful imagery is irresistible – even for those of us who might be still a bit skeptical about such fantastical places as Lemuria.

Ivy’s official bio claims that “The easel is her alter and she is passionate about making images that actively raise the vibration of the environment and observer.”1 And after playing with these cards for a week or so I would agree that Ivy’s devotion to her craft and her vision is apparent in this magical oracle deck.

The deck is composed of 56 cards that are divided into three categories: cards one through ten are the Chakra Cards, cards eleven through seventeen are the Elemental Cards, and the remainder of the deck is referred to as Seed Cards.

I have a habit of initiating a new deck by ceremoniously drawing a first card as a way of allowing the deck to communicate how it would like to be used by me. The first card I drew from this deck was a card called “Endless Opportunities” – which brought a smile to my face because this is indeed a deck that seems to be bursting at the seams with a wide variety of thoughtful messages. Ivy includes ten different ideas for three-card spreads, as well as some larger layouts with directions that are quite unique, even including using the deck in a meditative exercise.

My second draw from the deck came during a group reading. I was drawing single tarot cards for a group of a dozen or so people and decided to pull one card from this new deck for the group, as we were getting ready to conclude our time together. The card I pulled was titled “Surrender.”

The guidebook gives a message for each card and concludes with a divinatory meaning – the one for the card Surrender says in part, “Loosen your hold on the reins and know that the Universe will catch you.”2 More than a few people in the group voiced that they had been dealing with letting go of certain life situations and that this card spoke to them in a deep way.

Next, I read for two clients using three-card layouts from the guidebook. The first spread I used is titled “Bringing in love” and my querent was astounded with how much the reading aligned with current inner work she has been doing. Here are some of her words (shared with her permission) in response to receiving the reading:

What a beautiful set of cards that takes the imagination out of body and into the unknown amongst the stars! And how befitting that the first topic in the reading is that of expansion. Just yesterday I was doing an active meditation and had visions fitting each of these cards.

The first rhyme is that I was sensing into how far my energy was willing to go and feeling that I’ve been pretty constricted.

The second card both delves into the expansion topic deeper AND confronts childhood beliefs. I was raised to be seen and not heard in some environments. As I grew up that lesson morphed into not rocking boats and keeping myself small in ways that became more impactful. This reading is hitting the nail on the head!

The last card’s indication of detachment from beliefs about what abundance is ties into a recent decision to surrender (again) so that I can get into alignment with divine flow. It mirrors eclipse week energies pretty well, I’d say.

Thank you for a lovely reading which does a marvelous job of reflecting divine intuition!

The second three card reading I did was met with similar enthusiasm, especially for the artwork. Here are a few words from my client:

The cards were great at reminding me that I have the power to make things happen for myself. They pointed out some challenges I may run into, things that could hold me back. I liked the fact that questions were asked, which inspired some deep thinking around the topic. The cards themselves were absolutely gorgeous in their artwork and layout.

The only negative feedback I received was that the explanation for each card was a bit too lengthy. I would suggest for any reader that feels this way to just use the “Divinatory Meaning” for each card, which generally consists of one paragraph of key ideas.

All in all, the deck’s breathtaking artwork and deep spiritual explanations were well received by everyone that has encountered them through readings I’ve done.

The guidebook presents the artist’s personal journey of creating the deck and the ideas and philosophies that supported her creative style and messages. Then it proceeds with ideas for some small three-card layouts and several larger layouts, along with a two-page spread of keywords, explanations, empowering questions for the querent, and divinatory meanings for each card.

The deck and guidebook come packaged in a sturdy box, which is always a plus for a collector. The cards are very large, measuring 3 ¾” x 5 ½”. The large size highlights the lovely images while also making them quite difficult to shuffle, especially if one has small hands. The card-stock is good quality, with a matte finish that shows the vibrancy of the images well.

I would recommend Beyond Lemuria Oracle Cards for anyone who loves ethereal artwork combined with spiritual messages, and perhaps especially for people who may be interested in (or at least comfortable with) theories of lost civilizations. However, regardless of philosophy and worldview, the artwork is vibrant, curious, and beautiful, and the messages are soothing, wise, and full of healing words.

The Language of Flowers Oracle, by Cheralyn Darcey

The Language of Flowers Oracle, by Cheralyn Darcey
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924408, 44 cards, 144 pages, April 2021

Spring is in full swing where I am, and it’s been a pleasure enjoying both the scents and scenery of the blooming flowers. It feels like the perfect time to be getting acquainted with The Language of Flowers Oracle by Cheralyn Darcey, as gardening has been on my mind now that outdoor weather has returned. This colorful deck has been brightening my oracle readings, while also giving me personal insights, along with tips and techniques for tending to my plants.

When I first opened the deck, I was immediately delighted by the cards’ colorful design. The blending of pink, dark blue, and white flowers remind me of a Hawaiian shirt, calling to mind memories of sunshine. Turning the cards over to look at them before shuffling, there were all sorts of color palettes popping out to catch my eye. It’s as though an impressionist painted to capture the essence of each flower through variation and contrasted hues.

The cards are all numbered, which makes it easy to find their meaning in the guidebook. There is also a keyword and the name of the flower at the bottom of the card. Then there is the image of the flower in the sacred place where it naturally blossoms.

For instance, the sacred blue lily’s card has the imagery of the Nile River and pyramids in the background because that is its habitat. I really enjoyed this connection between flower and place, as it helped to contextualize the ecosystem each flower thrives in, adding to my understanding of its healing and divinatory message.

The guidebook is short and sweet. Darcey suggests journaling about the cards, meditating with them, and using them alongside healing modalities, such as homeopathic medicine and flower essences. She also hopes the deck will inspire the reader to connect with nature and learn more about the botanical world.

For each card, the guidebook has the flower’s scientific name, card’s oracle meaning and challenge, botanical profile, gardening tips, and information on the flower’s sacred place. I’ve found the section of meaning and challenge in the guidebook to be very insightful. So far, I’ve found all the readings I’ve done with this deck to be spot on.

It’s also interesting to read the botanical profile, which talks about the color and size of the flower, along with its native region. While I am not much of a gardener myself, I feel the gardening tips would be immensely useful for those who hope to cultivate these flowers, many of which will be growing outside of their native landscape. Darcey, very helpfully, includes a gardening skill level for each flower too. If I do decide to cultivate my green thumb, I’d know which flowers are easiest to get started with growing.

I also just love the description of the flower’s sacred place because it takes me to another place and opens me to new cultures. To give an example, this is part of the description for card twenty-four, Inspiration: Siberian Iris, whose sacred place is Lake Baikal in Russia:

“The lake has been considered sacred throughout history, with many names pertaining to this belief such as Sacred Lake, Sacred Sea, and Spiritual Waters. It is believed by the many Shaman-practicing people of the area that the earth spirits are the strongest here because, despite all odds, the waters are still the purest and the lake has survived for so long.”1

How cool is that? And it’s certainly not a place that I would have known about otherwise. By providing this connection, Darcey helps to bridge the spiritual and material world through the beauty and healing properties of the flowers and their impact in local culture via the honoring of sacred lands.

The entire deck inspires me to go explore outdoors, get to know the flowers in my area, and appreciate the beauty they bring to the world. Maybe it’s because it’s spring and I’m in a sensual, joyful maiden energy, but working with this deck has awakened my desire to smell the scents of the flowers and indulge in purchasing bouquets from the farmer’s market. I want to touch, feel, see, and even taste the flowers! Yes, I’ve been Googling some recipes.

I really have appreciated the deepening of my relationship to flowers through The Language of Flowers Oracle. It has been a wonderful resource to learning more about the natural world, and also a very accurate oracle that’s provided immensely insightful guidance. It truly venerates the exquisite world of flowers.

For those who enjoy the beauty of the natural world and are looking to bring a bit more of it into their oracle readings, this is a wonderful deck. I also recommend it to gardeners and botanical enthusiasts that are looking to explore the oracle realm. This deck is a perfect blend of science and spirituality that will expand one’s knowledge of the world, while also teaching how to cultivate flowers that branch the distance right within your home.

Psychic Reading Cards, by Debbie Malone

Psychic Reading Cards: Awaken your Psychic Abilities, by Debbie Malone and illustrated by Amalia I. Chitulescu 
Rockpool Publishing, 925924763, 36 cards, 96 pages, February 2021

I’ll admit that the Psychic Reading Cards by Debbie Malone deck piqued my interest immediately because of the vivid imagery of a phoenix on the deck box done by illustrator Amalia I. Chitulescu. You know what they say about judging a book by its cover, but great cover art will get my attention every time.

Malone, is a celebrated psychic medium and clairvoyant from Australia who has assisted police departments across her country in missing-persons and murder investigations for well over a decade. She has written other books that mainly center around this work, including Clues from Beyond: True Crime Stories from Australia’s #1 Psychic Detective and Never Alone: A Medium’s Journey – Real Life Files from a Psychic Detective.  The author has also created two other card decks, Angel Reading Cards and Guardian Angel Reading Cards, also both illustrated by Chitulescu.

The cards in this deck sport vibrant illustrations and mostly single word titles, such as Coins, Nature, Abundance, Celebration, Mirror, and Doorways. I’m always curious what my first draw will be from a new deck. This one was an accurate acknowledgment of my present reality with a card titled Juggler – illustrated with a woman sitting cross legged and juggling several different items including a clock, a house, a book, a dollar bill, and some baby shoes.

I was indeed juggling quite a few different obligations the day I drew the card, and I chuckled at the deck’s sense of humor. Interestingly, the following day I did a group reading for over a dozen people and not a single card repeated itself, until I drew one for myself… yep, still juggling I was.

The single word (or in a few cases, multi-word) titles evoke a strong meaning on their own, which coupled with the illustration for each card seem to speak volumes. In the single card readings I did most of the querents felt like they knew exactly what the card was saying without any explanation from me or from the accompanying book.

The guidebook, though, is a beautiful addition, full of wise uplifting words and gorgeously illustrated on every glossy page with full color renditions of the cards and beautiful graphic design throughout. 

All in all, I did over a dozen single-card readings, as well as half a dozen multiple-card readings using the spreads provided in the accompanying guidebook. There were many things in common among the responses from querents – but the two that were unanimous were an excitement about the images and the sense that the deck spoke very clearly to their current situations.

Several people commented they had unspoken questions answered and had received much clarity, such as this actual comment sent to me by a querent in response to her reading (quoted here with her permission):

“I loved the imagery of the cards. They felt so comforting and it was easy to gather the messages from the images. The words that accompanied the images were spot on. What I love is the realness and earthiness of the card descriptions. Sometimes I feel confused by card descriptions but these were really simple to read through and follow. They were relatable and straight to the point. The questions the creator asked in the cards were perfect as well.

In terms of the reading itself it is most definitely resonating. I started to put into works a trip to visit a friend soon. I’d been thinking about it but this spread helped me take some action on it and confirmed for me that was a good step to take. The doors opening and phoenix were so timely as well. I felt there was such a nice flow with the messages of these cards.”

The above comments are indicative of the responses I received from all the querents I read for using this deck. The card meanings in this deck and guidebook all lean towards the extreme positive, which could be partly the reason that all of the comments I received about readings were very positive and optimistic! And even though the card meanings are positive, the author doesn’t hesitate to ask powerful questions that will possibly evoke strong emotion from honest answers.

Each card description begins with an italicized sentence that gives the overall idea for the card. For example, the card titled Phoenix, which is pictured on the deck/book packaging, encapsulates its message in the sentence “It is your time to rise and begin again.”1

The card descriptions go on to not only give advice, but to also ask very good questions that would make for powerful inquiry and journaling prompts. The Phoenix asks:

“Have you been feeling stuck and blocked with your spiritual journey? Have you found it difficult to let go of issues from the past? Do you feel that everything in your life seems to be going wrong? Do you question when will it be your time to shine? Do you feel that you don’t have the power and ability to achieve your goals?”2

As for specifics, the cards are very large – 4 ½ x 5 inches. They are not so easily shuffled if you have small hands, but the trade-off is having those large, gorgeous images. The cards are made of quality glossy cardstock that is thin enough to shuffle easily and thick enough to feel durable. The book is just shy of 5×7 inches and both items come in a beautiful and sturdy box that closes with a magnetic clasp. The lovely, sturdy case is definitely a plus in my book.

I would recommend Psychic Reading Cards for anyone looking for very positive oracle cards, beautiful surrealist collage art, and great journaling prompts for doing deeper work and encouraging intuitive messages.

Sacred Hags Oracle, by Danielle Dulsky

Sacred Hags Oracle: Visionary Guidance for Dreamers, Witches, and Wild Hearts, by Danielle Dulsky with illustrations by Janine Houseman
New World Library, 1608686795, 56 cards, 160 pages, March 2021

Sacred Hags Oracle: Visionary Guidance for Dreamers, Witches, and Wild Hearts by Danielle Dulsky and illustrator Janine Houseman puts a new spin on oracle decks. Usually we pick a card for guidance, passively seeking to be given the guidance and directed a certain way. But this deck doesn’t hand out divinations that easily, rather it invites the reader into a co-creative process with the most sacred, wise, and wild aspect of yourself.

From the get go, Dulsky’s word echoed through my being, enchanting me to read on with curiosity as to how coming to know this deck would unfold.

“To befriend an oracle is to bow deeply to that wild and unseen web to which we already belong. An oracle is more than a divination tool; an oracle is a portal to the not yet known.”1

Immediately, I was drawn into a liminal world where endless possibilities roam. The introduction, written in Dulsky’s poetic form, invites the oracle reader to make the necessary sacrifices to prepare for what the future holds, step into a different notion of time, wake new parts of our Self, and pay homage to the deities that we call upon. This was a whole different approach to working with the oracle deck that filled me with awe at the tenderness and respect Dulsky affords to this special connection we share with the cards we divine from.

I mean, being completely honest, most of the time I’m slinging oracle cards in the morning or evening out of pure curiosity of what the day holds or frustration at a situation trying to figure out why things are going down the way they are right now. I will confess, I am not always the most “tuned in” to my most holy Self during this process.

Sacred Hags Oracle is different because it doesn’t so readily give me the answers I seek. Rather, this deck prompts the reader through ritual and reflection to embody their spirituality, reconnect with the most sacred parts of ourselves, and cherish the relationship we have with the Sacred Hag, which is meant to be tended to, fed, and nourished with our energy. This certainly seems to negate my tendency to fall into auto-pilot mode in my readings.

Before working with the deck, Dulsky offers six rituals to affirm your abilities as a seer through intuitive psychic and body exercises to familiarize yourself with the oracle. While the guidebook itself is filled with potent stories, the introductory rituals also invite you to connect with the sigils on the card deck. These sigils were all designed by sigil witch Janine Houseman, a talented tattoo artist who offers her services to others through her sacred, personalized skin-cantations. There is a sigil for each type of card in the deck: The Sacred Hags, The Seasons, The Stories, and The Spells. Each type of card is also color-coded, which helps when working with the deck.

Before diving into my first reading, I went through the spreads suggested to use with this oracle deck, ranging from one-card to a spread that includes all the cards in the deck. I decided to begin with a one-card reading and make my way from there. I really like that the suggested spreads have an embodied component to them. For instance with the Unanswerable Question one-card pull Dulsky advises to “Feel the image, the sigil, and the words on it.”2 then to “Take three low-belly breaths, and open your eyes again.”3 This reminder to feel the card through my senses and breathe in the process of divination really made a notable difference in my connection with my reading.

The guidebook interpretations are so very interesting and unique. There is a keyword/phrase, a section called Grandmother Speaks, which tells an illuminating story or shares a bit of wisdom, and both a Morning and Moonlight Ritual. Yes, that’s right, a full on ritual for YOU to connect with your inner guidance via the oracle cards, rather than an out-right, mote interpretation. Like I said at the beginning, you’ve got to put in the work too with this oracle deck in a co-creative process, but the rewards are immensely fulfilling!

I pulled the card Season of Spice and Heart (26), which had the keyword “Death,” so aptly suited for the phase of life I am in right now of releasing many outdated habits, beliefs, and situations. Well, the Morning Ritual actually called for me to eulogize these roles I no longer fit into through writing, light a candle, and read the words aloud. I got really into this process, and in the end I felt a million times lighter. This small ritual act did wonders for reorienting my psyche. I plan on saying the accompanying bedtime prayer this evening that was offered under the Moonlight Ritual.

This is what I mean about the cards inviting us to participate in the magic, affirming our abilities to be sacred seers and divine creators. I will admit, at first I was a bit like, “Oh man this is going to require some of my personal energy..” since I was used to pulling cards so I didn’t have to think anymore and could passively receive answers. But working with this deck the past week has been an opportunity to reconnect with myself both morning and night, nourish my relationship with the ancient ones, and be a bit more intentional with my oracle usage.

The imagery on the cards is absolutely breath-taking and immediately evokes a sense of deep connection to the natural world, along with wonder and possibility. My favorite card is Hag of Selkies (14), where a wise woman has seashells and bone strung in her hair with her long-nailed, ring-covered fingers hovering over a crystal ball filled with blue, purple, and gold energy. Filled with magnificent, fierce women, mermaids, animals, and symbolic imagery, the cards themselves make for wonderful meditation. The images really coalesce when laid out side by side for a reading, crafting a story and enhancing visualization of the cards’ energies. 

There are so many different pieces of wisdom, written in Dulsky’s one-of-a-kind prose that just speaks right to the heart and ignites divine revelation, within this deck. Just as a sample, here’s a line of the Grandmother Speaks for Season of Holy Thunder (22):

“So easily can the sun distract us, my love. The omens are much more easily seen in the dark, but it is the mark of a true Witch to witness synchronicities by the light of day, to see shapes in the clouds and scry her future in sidewalk gum.”4

Oh, how marvelously true this is. For those who enjoyed Dulsky’s books The Holy Wild, Season of Moon and Flame, and Woman Most Wild, you will absolutely love what the Sacred Hag Oracle brings into your life. Within this oracle deck are endless rituals, stories, and wisdom to help you hear your own inner voice more clearly, in harmony with the energies of the earth and sacred deities.

I highly recommend Sacred Hags Oracle to the divine seekers and intuitive readers that want to awaken their own inner visions. These cards are filled with magic, sacred feminine knowledge, and the undefinable qualities of all witches. The visionary guidance that comes through this beautifully crafted deck is sure to inspire, transform, and shift your perceptions. This is the first deck that I feel has a malleable quality, able to merge itself and blend with your psyche to invite a fresh perspective and genuinely different reading every time. I look forward to seeing how my relationship with this deck evolves over the weeks, months, and years to come.

The Tree Angel Oracle, by Fred Hageneder

The Tree Angel Oracle: The Ancient Path into the Sacred Grove, by Fred Hageneder and illustrated by Anne Heng
Earthdancer Books, 1644110386, 1144 pages, 2nd Edition 2020

The Tree Angel Oracle by Fred Hageneder is a truly beautiful deck, illustrated by Anne Heng. The cards are illustrated with fairy-like figures ethereally interwoven with an image of a tree, creating a magical, endearing effect.  Printed on heavy, shiny cardstock, the cards felt special and charged from the moment I took them out of the box.  I delighted in selecting the cards that match trees that grow in my yard and around my neighborhood, such as Oak, Holly, Cherry, and Apple. I quickly choose all the cards matching the species of trees I have on my property and had a fun time envisioning these angels living in my trees.  The Tree Angels in these cards are drawn with such delicacy and care that I can truly get a feel for the character of the tree angels and also how they connect to that particular species of tree.

The book opens with an endearing introduction where Hageneder writes about a visionary experience he had while attending a Kundalini Yoga Retreat.  In his vision, he was invited into a sacred grove of trees and encouraged by the Tree Angels themselves to develop this oracle deck based on his experiences connecting deeply to trees.

However, unfortunately for me, the fantasy ended there.  In the first chapter of the book, Hageneder presents sort of a “woven tapestry” per se of world religions, their symbolism and mythologies, and how they each hold trees in high esteem.  He presents a particular interpretation on some ubiquitous religious stories, in particular the Garden of Eden story from the Book of Genesis. Here, he very matter-of-factly presents a remarkably modern and “New Age” summation of what that symbology means. Being somewhat of a nerd about classical Theology, I was miffed not seeing appropriate academic citations to back up his interpretative claims, and by the time I got past this, I was far from thinking about trees. Though his religious world-view is interesting — I probably agree with more of it than I disagree — I think it is problematic to present interpretations on religious symbolism as fact without contextualizing the scholarship that gave rise to those interpretations.  But we’ve strayed from the topic of trees, so let’s get back to that.

Obviously, there are hundreds of species of tree in the world and there are only 36 cards in this deck.  Hageneder has based his selection of trees on the “Ancient Irish Tree Alphabet” called the “ogham.” (p. 25) However because this particular catalogue of trees (and he doesn’t describe the “ogham” any further) all originate in a particular geographical area occupied by the Celts, he has omitted some of those trees in favor of wider diversity. For example, he included Ginkgo and Sycamore, which are native to other regions.

Hageneder offers several simple spreads to read the cards, though he emphasizes that choosing one card at a time is a great method for this deck.  I like the “Silent Guardians” spread which is a two-card spread where each card is part of a message relating to a transition in your life – passing from one phase to another.  The three-card spread suggested is called “The Primeval Doorway,” and in this spread the Tree Angels invite you to meet your guide on a journey into the Underworld.

The messages The Tree Angel Oracle cards offer are rich and long, with multiple meanings embedded.  Oak is one of my favorite cards because Oak trees are often associated with magic.

“The source of the life force nourishes your deepest roots with vitality, will, and power.  Make the world your own! But take care, hear the secrets of success, care for those in need, bring tenderness where emptiness once ruled.” (p. 57)

Oak is about being strong and enjoying vitality, but also about having integrity and being compassionate.

Sometimes the descriptions surprised me.  For example, the Ivy Tree Angel signifies humility, though in other sources I’ve known, ivy represents a protector and in other sources, an opportunist. So it seems to me that Hageneder is developing his meanings and interpretations from his own inspiration instead of drawing on ideas about tree spiritual energies that others have written about.

I am grateful for this deck, grateful for the window into deeper communion with trees that The Tree Angel Oracle offers. The cards are so beautifully illustrated by Anne Heng. The messages about the spiritual consciousness that is alive in trees is also beautiful – for this is something I very much believe in.  While Hageneder’s descriptions of the Tree Angel Oracle do not always resonate with me, I believe there is something profoundly magical and alive in these cards and there is a story to tell about discovering the consciousness in trees.

Cosmic Dancer Oracle, by Sedona Soulfire and Tess Whitehurst

Cosmic Dancer Oracle, by Sedona Soulfire and Tess Whitehurst, illustrated by Elinore Eaton
Llewellyn Publications, 0738767107, 44 cards, 148 pages, 2020 

The Cosmic Dancer Oracle by Sedona Soulfire and Tess Whitehurst perfectly captures the soulful integration of mind, body, and soul. This deck is a mixture of radiance and delight, as the cards beautifully show the flow of energy within the relationship between body and spirit. Elinore Eaton, the deck’s illustrator, has magnificently expressed the dynamic rhythm of the movement as a form of self-expression in this illuminating, brightly colored work of art. Working with this deck has been an exciting journey, as it’s invited my body to participate in the process of connecting with the unseen to glimpse the answer I seek and revitalize my spirit.

I’ve always enjoyed exploring my intuition through my body. I actually wrote my thesis on the importance of teaching in a way that promotes one’s kinesthetic intelligence, or the body’s knowing, as a learning tool. This project evolved into me dancing the principles of eco-psychology and documenting the self-reflection process. Countless hours were spent discovering my body’s intelligence, while also researching how impactful dance can be as a form of therapy. It is for this reason that I absolutely adore and appreciate Soulfire and Whitehurst’s intention in creating this deck.

As the introduction states, “Life really is a dance. Sometimes it’s time to sparkle and shine, and sometimes it’s time to retreat and recharge. Some days you’re called to lead, and others you’re called to follow. At times it’s appropriate to improvise, and others call for well-practiced choreography. What’s more, invisible currents of energy and vibration coalesce in ways that create and animate everyone and everything in the Universe (seen and unseen), even the passage of time.” 1 This deck has done a wonderful job of portraying this sentiment visually, while also providing guidance for the reader to use movement to anchor the oracle cards’ messages in their own body.

There are 44 cards in the Cosmic Dancer Oracle, and every single one is unique. The deck truly represents the range of emotions people are able to share through their bodies. Blending cosmic energy and elemental power, the cards offer the reader intuitive images that are sensational visual representations of dancers using movement to embody a sacred oracle message. Truthfully, the artwork on the cards is some of the best I’ve ever seen in an oracle deck. Looking through the deck, each card fills me with the excitement akin to going to a museum exhibition of my favorite artist. Eaton’s imagery activates my psyche and speaks directly to my soul. Some cards make me want to get up and dance, while others help me to honor the need to rest. As I look from card to card, each one’s energy activates both my body and intuition.

The accompanying guidebook is uplifting and straightforward in the guidance offered. Messages affirm the importance of ancestry, offerings, surrender, and creative flow. It feels as though I am receiving a gentle spiritual reminder when reading the message for the cards I’ve pulled that help me to shift my focus towards love, openness, and unity with the current situation I am inquiring about. The guidebook’s messages further help to facilitate connection to one’s body by offering a movement, pose, or dance for every message. I’ve really enjoyed following the guidance and doing this, as I feel like it imparts the cards within into my embody reality.

For instance, the card I pulled today was Clear The Vessel. This was very apt to how I was feeling, as I had just finished deleting emails back to 2018 to do a bit of techno-cleansing to prepare for the new year. The guidebook offered a breathing posture of moving into a stance with my feet shoulder-width apart, extending my arm upward, pressing together my index finger and thumb, and doing rapid breathing. As I did this pose, I instantly felt my energy becoming grounded and excess energy being released through  my body. It made me feel purified, relaxed, and ready to move onto my next task.

Overall, Cosmic Dancer Oracle is a wonderfully intuitive and well-integrated deck. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to add a bit of mystic movement to their life. The artwork is gorgeous and makes it so this deck can be used for oracle reads, meditative visualization, and altar creation. All my readings with the deck thus far have been just what I needed to hear in the moment. This is definitely a deck that’s not going to get dusty, as I’m sure it will be used it frequently.

The Heart Path Oracle Cards, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor

The Heart Path Oracle Cards, by Nadine Gordon-Taylor
Bear & Company, 1591433903, 53 cards, 128 pages, September 2020

The Heart Path Oracle Cards tell stunning, evocative stories through rich imagery. Nadine Gordon-Taylor, artist and author, offers us the beauty of the natural and the mythic world with incredible technical skill and a visceral understanding of color. Each of these 53 cards holds the galaxy within them.

Gordon-Taylor is able to render exquisite details in a surrealist landscape. Her intimate understanding of the natural world allows this vivid imagery to come alive. The images themselves are portals, offering an initiation into the energy they hold. Each card comes with text that aids you in understanding the transmission of the image if this visual way of understanding the universe is new to you. The visual depth of each card also allows you to put the book aside for your own journey and information to emerge. 

Gordon-Taylor holds an MFA and EdD. She is a classically-trained visual artist. She has a depth of knowledge of both the natural world and the mythological one. The accompanying book offers a vivid description of what is held within the card itself. She includes a channeled message of the card as well as an affirmation to anchor the energy of that card in your body. It is a helpful tool, particularly if you are a beginner in using oracle decks, to deepen your intimacy with yourself and with the more than human world.

I confess, I quickly put aside the booklet, more drawn to the imagery than the writing. As someone who sits with clients regularly, tarot or oracle deck in hand, I found that these cards deepen the divinatory and narrative arc of the reading. They are generous in how they invite you into the mysteries of yourself, of the natural world, of the cosmic and elemental energies swirling around us just waiting to be acknowledged. 

One thing I loved about this deck as I sat with clients is how deftly it moved from the mundane to the inner realms of the heart to the outer realms of the galactic. Each card holds the human-being experience, and how it is that we root into the earth and reach up to the stars. 

As a white person working with a variety of decks, I appreciate in this deck that there are different races and ethnicities as well as some variation in body size.

There are some cards that feel like initiations into the deeper mysteries. Some cards that remind you it gets better. These cards can be an instruction on your spiritual path. “Programming your Highest Intentions” is a card that invites you to use the power of intention to change the reality of your everyday life. There is a playful irreverence to some of the messages. This artist allows vitality and play as a through-line to her work. 

My favorite card, “The Connection” invites you to take deep breaths. A woman-tree at the center of a grove of trees is circled by lambs and her tree family. Above, helping guides offer peace and love. The trees themselves take the shape of a heart. The use of light and shadow brings both grace and soft intensity. It reminds you that you are always held in the nest of the universe. 

The guidebook is practical and accessible as it speaks to these great cosmic archetypes and energies. It is a tool that will meet you where you’re at and invite you to go deeper into what you are seeing and feeling with the imagery. There is a glossary at the back of the book to support you in your growth and learning, if you come to these cards as a beginner. I celebrate the work to take these profound energies and make them accessible. 

Each card is laid out so that the painting fills the majority of the frame. The text of the card gives both title and baseline instruction. Take deep breaths, setting boundaries, manifest your dreams, birthing a new life. In this way, you can be in imaginal space and communion with the card without having to refer to the book. The book will take you deeper if you desire it. For me, the style of writing didn’t land with how I receive and understand information. 

The Heart Path Oracle Cards are truly for anyone who wants help in deepening understanding the messages of love that are offered to us from the unseen world, from the natural world, from our own bodies and hearts. It is a fantastic beginner deck because it delves into profound concepts in accessible ways. For me, this deck inspires me to get outside, to breathe, and to remember my vital, small role in the great organism of the universe. 

Heavenly Bodies Astrology, by Lily Ashwell

Heavenly Bodies Astrology: Deck and Little Guidebook, by Lily Ashwell
CICO Books, 1782499312, 51 cards, 144 pages, February 2021

I have been reading different decks for almost 30 years (I started young!). But when Heavenly Bodies Astrology by Lily Ashwell arrived, I got chills. The presentation of this boxset is unlike any I’ve ever seen. The deck and guidebook came in a gorgeous keepsake box, which really made for a memorable deck unveiling. As I opened the inner cover of the box, I was greeted with a quote by Henry David Thoreau that instantly made me marvel at the idea that heaven is ever-present . Illustrated in tones of pinks and grays, lace, and a full moon, the deck mesmerized me from the get-go. It even has a gold ribbon that can be used to gently remove the deck from the box with grace and ease!

The intricate beauty put into the presentation of the deck and “little guidebook” conveyed to me that just as much care and love was put into the design of this deck. The smaller box within the keepsake box holds the deck, which also has a ribbon to be used to remove it from its holder. The back of the deck’s box has a quote by Rainer Maria Rilke, one of my favorite poets, while the inner lid of the deck’s box has a quote by William Blake. In her Introduction, Lily describes the importance of this quote in her journey, which brought the box to life. 

I normally don’t gush over presentations and artwork, but this deck is truly a magnificent work of art. The contents of this box set are appropriately referred to as “treasures” on the box sleeve. I actually sat with these three pieces laid out on the table in front of me to soak in the craftsmanship that went into their creation. I felt as if someone had shared treasure with me, and I relished opening the book to read its content and then opening the deck to hold the cards as I would a new baby. These feelings were confirmed when I read Lily’s description in the book’s Introduction:

“This deck and guidebook did not begin as something to be shared, let alone published, but as my own study tool, to deepen my understanding of the cosmos.” 1

Bingo – the box and its contents felt like I had come upon someone’s preciously stored items and private writings, something very personal written from the heart and soul. Ashwell is both author and illustrator of the cards and book. Her training at London’s Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design (inner back of book) is vividly demonstrated in the design of the cards, which combine symbolism and astrology to create meaningful works art on each card.

Lily recommends using the cards to learn astrology, decode planetary placements in one’s birth chart, and/or communicate with the angels. As she explains in the guidebook, “understanding the deck requires a general understanding of astrology.”2 She proceeds to give a brief introduction to items such as the planets, zodiac, houses, and major aspects.

As someone who becomes quickly lost when astrological discussions move beyond Sun signs, I appreciated how Lily builds upon concept upon concept to help me begin to better understand the workings of astrology. She began with using the card Jupiter, and then illustrated what Jupiter in Aries meant, and then what Jupiter in Aries in the 7th House meant. This introduction made me feel a bit less intimated to begin working with the cards. I say “a little” because I admit to my head spinning when I got into Nodes, Trine, and Sextile! However, the guidebook generously helped me to navigate the unknown and still find the answers I was seeking.

I was glad to read in the guidebook that she understood that one could become overwhelmed when first beginning to work with the cards, especially if one has a very limited understanding of astrology. I very much appreciated her writing, “That’s okay and totally normal – I felt that way too. Just remember, you don’t need to grasp how everything pieces together right away. This is the journey.”3

Lily remembers her own introduction to astrology and chose to make this deck usable and not intimidating.

“When I began my journey with the cosmos, I felt thirsty for information, but bored and uninspired by the textbook-ish materials available. It’s why I made this little guidebook simple and the cards beautiful. They provide you with enough information to explore the subject but not enough to trigger overwhelm.”4

This reassured me that I didn’t need to be an astrology expert to use the deck; I could use the deck to familiarize myself with astrology, while also enjoying the stunning visuals that help me to learn about the different energies described.

The cards themselves are absolutely beautiful. Each card offers keywords and an “omen,” or the card’s overriding message. There are six categories of cards: the Planets, the Signs of the Zodiac, the Houses, the Major Aspects, the Natural Zodiac, and the Nodes of Destiny. They are have gentle, dreamlike colored tones that make you sink into your imagination when looking at them. The flowing design of the cards seems to make it easier to access my own inner knowing and also receive the card’s message on a soul level.

All the cards are filled with symbolic imagery, helping the reader to access the energy of the astrology viscerally, rather than just through the mind. The Earth card, for example, has four roses in various stages of blooming. There is a heart in the middle of the card, one side of the heart is a cage of bones while the other side is an intact red heart. The keywords are persistence, patience, and practicality. Then, Mercury has a butterfly set against the planet with a watercolor background of what reminds me of waterlilies. Venus’s card has a pale pink background, with an open clamshell displaying a white pearl, set against the planet itself.

My favorite illustrations are found on the House cards, which are bird-themed. The House Four card has a nest containing two eggs, set in a tree, against a full moon in a blue-black sky. The key words are cultural and family roots, home, peace, and comfort. Looking at this card makes me feel that sense of calmness, connectedness, and grounding associated with domestic life (which I also learned is it’s energy in astrology!)

I decided to work with the cards as Lily suggests, get to know them, try various spreads, allow them to speak to me, and to not get hung up with astrological terms. And guess what? I love, love, love working with them! I value Lily’s advice about asking questions of the cards by framing it as “what is…” versus yes or no questions. For example, “What is the best way to approach a job change?” instead of “Should I apply for job A next week?” This method helped me to open up to receive intuitive messages, deepening my capacity for communion with the cards.

In the guidebook, Liluyoffers three card spreads; a one card of the day, a three-card soul spread, and a four-card third eye spread. My favorite spread with this deck was the three-card soul spread, cards that revealed what one is learning, how one is learning it, and where the wisdom will take one.5 Without revealing my own card pulls, I will say that the way these cards communicated with me enabled me to drop my resistance to diving deeper into astrology and working with concepts other than my Sun sign.

I did the one card pulls for a few days. I sat with the selected card each day, reading the guidebook’s description and letting it marinate. I liked to pick my card early in the morning and sit with it all day – throughout my daily activities. Sometimes it resonated very quickly. Other times, it slowly revealed its meaning to me.

Three days in a row, I have pulled the card Yin! So, I’ve been trying to incorporate a slower pace in life. The Yin card is part of the Natural Zodiac in the Little Guidebook, along with Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Yang, Cardinal, Fixed, and Mutable. In addition to the keywords listed on the card itself, the guidebook also lists the “omen” for each card as described earlier as well as a description of the energy of the card itself. For example, for the Yin card, Lily writes about the “energy of the Divine Feminine.” 

The guidebook is easy to read and even includes blank pages at the end for note-taking, which offers the opportunity for me to personalize my deck with my thoughts and discoveries. I responded to Lily’s description of the energy of each card and found great insight in each card’s “omens.” I used the omen of a card to guide me, inspire me, and give me pause in my response to some of the questions posed. All food for thought – or rather, for the soul to digest.  I look forward to continuing taking it slow with the cards, allowing our relationship to develop, and learning more about the energy of astrology through the cards.

My next step using the cards is going to be laying them out to create different planet placements in my chart. I hope to gain insight from the visual representation of the energy of my personal astrological make-up, such as Moon in Aries in the first house and Mars in Taurus in the third house. I believe the keywords on the cards will help me to better understand these aspects in my chart, further deepening my astrological understanding.

All in all, Heavenly Bodies Astrology is a true gift in its beauty and its message. Lily’s honesty in describing her journey using astrology, her sharing of her artwork on the cards and in the little guidebook, and her gentle taking of the reader’s hand to encourage us to “find out own direct connection to the heavens,”6 makes for a very personalized feeling in this deck. The supreme elegance of the symbolic representation of the cosmos creates the feeling of sublime connection to the heavens. I highly recommend that you bring this treasure into your life. Whether you’re a novice or expert astrologer, you’ll feel there’s an exalted mysticism within these cards. As Ashwell writes, if this deck resonates with you, trust that you were brought to it for a reason.