✨ A Gathering Place for Magical Readers and Writers ✨

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. 

Women of Science Tarot, by Massive Science

Women of Science Tarot, by Massive Science
MIT Press, 0262539934, 94 pages, September 2020

Did you know the first African American woman to get a PhD in chemistry was Marie Maynard Daly? I didn’t until recently! This is one of the many things I’ve learned from Massive Science’s Women of Science Tarot deck. Though it is promoted as a game deck, it has all the features of a standard tarot deck. Designed to explore the tarot through the lens of science, all the minor arcana features pioneering women who made their mark in scientific fields. The blending of tarot, science, and inspirational women makes this one radically unique and empowering way to seek guidance.

Before diving into the Women of Science Tarot, let’s start with the organization, Massive Science, who published this deck in coordination with MIT Press. Massive Science is a content and media company that has a consortium of scientists publishing articles for the masses. They deliver cutting-edge scientific research to their subscribers, all authored by current scientists in the field. As of now, scientists from over 50 countries have joined Massive Science’s mission of “giving science a voice in cultural conversation.” 1 You can learn more about this innovative organization here.

The community-centered approach of Massive Science is wonderfully applied to the Women of Science Tarot, which features 56 women scientists that have contributed to advancing their respective fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). These scientists all worked to overcome obstacles in their personal life and careers to leave a lasting legacy. Honestly, I am not familiar with most of the women on the cards. It has been exciting to learn more about the biographical information of these women and the paths they forged.

The box of Women of Science Tarot is well-designed and looks very couth. Upon close inspection, the box dons what appears to be a Venus of Willendorf symbol, along with mer-women holding science tools like beakers and telescopes. My favorite part was the number of players ranging from 1- ∞, once again promoting a sense of inclusivity.

Opening the box reveals a glossy, sleek guidebook and bright pink cards. The guidebook is color-coded by section. The Introduction is brief, but does include an informative suggestion to “Use the meaning of each card to narrate the plot points of a story you tell yourself or a friend.” 2 This is very helpful advice on how to use this deck for guidance, as the meanings aren’t as explicitly stated for each card and require a bit of ingenious thinking to make the connections — a very fitting method for a science-themed deck!

The next section is Major Arcana. The major arcana cards all have science images on them, intended to represent the traditional meaning of the card but through a scientific lens. The description in the guidebook reflects this scientific paradigm and ties in bits of history, knowledge, and insight for reflection. For instance, the description of the Death card discusses the extinction of the dinosaurs with a reminder that sometimes old systems of beliefs need to die off for new ones to emerge. 3

One of my favorite cards in the major arcana of this deck is Justice, which features what appears to be a swirling galaxy surrounded by the ouroboros. This card perfectly captures the merge of esoteric, mystical knowledge with science. The guidebook description discusses the conservation of energy in physics and how new stars and galaxies are constantly being formed from the remnants of old stars. 4 This is beautiful to me and really hits my soul, knowing this process is always in motion. This scientific knowledge seems to bring gnostic wisdom to life by allowing one to see how these principles are embodied in the Universe, nature, and life.

The final section is Minor Arcana, which is divided into colors to distinguish the four suits. This deck labels them nano (cups), micro (wands), macro (pentacles), and astro (swords). Nano represents sciences in the invisible field, such as math and physics; micro is the suit of molecular fields, such as chemistry and microbiology; macro is the systematic fields, such as ecology and geology; astro is the cosmic fields like astronomy. 5

The minor arcana cards have the name of the woman in the top center, with the rank to the left and the suit symbol to the right. Underneath the woman’s name is the type of scientist she was. Then there is an image of her on the card, depicting each woman in her element. All the cards have a color palette of pink, maroon, grey, and black, which makes for visually appealing color contrast on the cards. The women on the cards span centuries, come from different economic backgrounds, and represent a range of cultures, nationalities, and races, which is something I always appreciate! Yet another example of inclusivity in this deck.

To be honest, at first the symbols on the cards were a bit confusing to me. But once I found the explanations of suits in the guidebook the cards made a lot more sense. I would recommend looking at it on page 32, along with the brief description of each type of minor card on page 33, before doing your first reading. Once I understood the correspondences, the cards became much more intuitive. I was then able to translate my readings better because I could draw from the energy of the traditional tarot card and mix it with the message of the Women of Science description of the scientist featured on the cards drawn.

However, even with the informative cards, I still rely heavily on the guidebook for the purpose of familiarizing myself with each scientist. While some are well-established heroes of mine, such as Hypatia (Ace of Astro) and Ursula K. LeGuin (Page of Astro), the majority of women I have yet to learn about. For me, this is a fun endeavour because I find out more about each woman’s inspirational story, while also buffing up on my scientific knowledge.

It’s an interesting combination to be in the midst of an intuitive reading, when suddenly I find myself researching more about mRNA to better understand the message Elisa Izaurraide (Two of Micro) has for my life. Since she’s appeared in my readings three times so far, I feel there’s a deeper connection here I need to make with her, and to do this requires me to delve into her research and more deeply ponder how it may be relevant to my own life.

I’ve always loved reading biographies of women because their life stories are often filled with nuggets of wisdom and motivation. In the highlight reel society of our time, featuring on the most memorable Instagram posts to paint a picture of perfection, biographies have always reminded me of the highs and lows of life that no one can hide from. They feed me stories of how women before me have overcome their challenges, conquered their insecurities, and pushed forward on their path, regardless of the obstacles that stand in their way — and not without the occasional fall from grace or grief-striking moments in life that seem to rip it apart at the seams, humbling me to my own perceived slights from the Universe.

Women of Science Tarot is the perfect mixture of stories about these scientists’ lives and guidance for our own lives, distilled from their accomplishments, struggles, and research. Using this deck may be a new style for more intuitive readers, but the descriptions in the guidebook make it easily accessible to even the left-brained, more creative thinkers to find meaning from the lives of these scientists. It’s a different type of reading that prompts us to celebrate the pioneering path of women scientists, while also promoting creativity in how we invite their stories into our lives to bring us to new heights and revelation. I highly recommend it to everyone, for we can all use a bit of scientific wisdom and women empowerment in our lives.

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. 

Kali Oracle, by Alana Fairchild

Kali Oracle: Ferocious Grace and Supreme Protection with the Wild Divine Mother, by Alana Fairchild, illustrated by Jimmy Manton
Blue Angel Publishing, 0648746713, 44 cards, 228 pages, January 2021

Fierce. Provocative. Destructive. These are the words that usually come to mind when thinking of the Kali, but they can hardly encapsulate the myriad forms this goddess of transformation can take. Kali Oracle, created by Alana Fairchild and illustrated by Jimmy Manton, perfectly captures the dark, primal nature of Kali, while also initiating the reader into some of her lesser-known forms to help the reader get the full picture of this powerful dark goddess. This deck has become my go-to when I want the raw truth, and so far it hasn’t steered me in the wrong direction.

Kali is not for everyone. In Sanskirt Kali means “She Who is Black” or “She Who is Death.”1 The artwork in this deck often portrays her wearing a necklace of skulls, or holding a severed head in her hand — images that may be hard for some to stomach. The box-cover alone is sure to scare off some, for Kali stands mightily wielding her swords with a horned headdress and blazing red eyes. But for those who have the courage to pick this deck up, there’s a lot of wisdom to behold.

I’m genuinely impressed with the range of emotional depth and information within the guidebook. Farichild’s introduction is heartfelt, describing a situation where she needed the strength of Kali to face the pain of a situation and cut through the suffering to find spiritual freedom. As Kali is my middle name, I’ve always felt a very close connection to this goddess and I found Fairchild’s introduction to be one of the best descriptions of Kali and her power to end the grip of fear and suffering.

“A bandaid eventually needs to come off so a wound can heal. We may fear the pain and pull at it, feeling the prolonged suffering as hair by hair is pulled out by the root. However, if we take too long, we may miss a vital unfoldment of our destiny. Kali manifests to get us moving and will rip the darn thing clear off. There is shock, but if we can brave the pain, knowing that it will pass, we will truly release an era of suffering.”2

It is clear Fairchild has worked extensively with Kali and used her craft of writing and creating oracle decks to imbue this deck with the goddess’s energy. Through the channeled wisdom messages of each card, Kali’s energy streams to liberate the reader from their bond to trauma, illuminating the way out of pain, hurt, and fear to reclaim their empowered spiritual center.

Following the extremely informative Introduction, Fairchild makes a note on the topic of tantra. While it is only a brief overview of the tantric path and its history, I still found it informative and useful for working with the deck. I especially like how she framed Kali as “the tantric queen — for those who seek to awaken according to their inner path, using their life experiences as their core learning material.” 3 While I do know practitioners who have undertaken initiations into tantric traditions, Fairchild asserts that it’s a path one can follow regardless of religious belief or free from any religious structure at all. This inclusive nature may turn some fundamentalists away, but I enjoy her assertion that we all can walk the tantric path.

Many of the divinations in the guidebook inspire the reader to purify these situations, create proper boundaries, and trust in the spiritual process even when the world seems against us. These are all the messages we truly need to hear in times of crisis that many oracle decks often overlook in favor of more whimsical or positive messages of hope. This bold oracle energy make this deck worth having in one’s collection.

Kali Oracle is honest, and its frank messages bring one back into their personal authority and remind us of our ability to land back on our feet in all situations. Every card also has an Invocation Ritual, or short prayer to say to draw in the energy of the card, found in the guidebook. This helps to give one the spiritual power to go act on the divinatory information received.

The cards themselves are filled with bold colors and visually-stunning depictions of Hindu and Buddhist gods and goddesses. There are also cards with symbols such as mandala beads, flowers, and sacred weaponry. Many of the figures in the cards stare you directly in the eye, creating this very neat connection to their energy that feels almost visceral.

My favorite card is “Mahakali” that depicts Kali in her full 8-armed glory. With her bejeweled arms carrying her most sacred objects, she looks absolutely stunning. I have been keeping this card on my altar, which is another way to make use of the Kali Oracle. Every time I look at this card, I feel filled with a sacred fierceness that keeps me grounded and in alignment with my spirit.

The deck especially speaks to me as someone who often falls into the trap of over-giving and never feeling worthy enough. Whenever I pull a card from this deck, I reconnect with the part of me that is wild, honest, genuine, and quite frankly, a bad ass. Every reading I do is a reminder to step back into my sovereignty, liberate my doubts, and remember that I have nothing to fear. The wisdom of Kali Oracle helps me to move through the tough times by reminding me that I am not a victim and beauty can come forth from the toughness of life.

I highly recommend Kali Oracle to anyone looking for a deck to work with their shadow and liberate themselves from the conventional platitudes oracle decks often offer. Kali has power to reveal the pain, but in service of liberation and spiritual healing. Her strength can hold us through the darkest of times and guide us back in touch with our most primal, authentic sovereignty. Working with this deck is bound to create changes in your life if you have the courage to drop the illusions and face your demons head-on.

Angel Tarot, by Travis McHenry

Angel Tarot, by Travis McHenry
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924206, 72 cards, 122 pages, April 2020

Many angel oracle or tarot decks feature sweeping images of light, splendor, and magnificence, along with a comforting affirmation of the angels’ eternal love and devotion. While Angel Tarot by Travis McHenry does facilitate this sacred connection to the power of the angels, the deck is unique because it also offers sigils, seals, and ancient grimoire knowledge to invite the angels into your life. Working with the Angel Tarot allows you to do more than just your standard tarot reading; the energy of the angels is yours to evoke, meditate with, and conjure for magical purposes.

Travis McHenry is a seasoned occultist that has had a varied career. He has an academic background in anthropology and has studied a variety of religions; he was even ordained as a deacon in the Baptist church at one time. McHenry also served in the United States Navy as an intelligence specialist. Afterwards he became a recruiter for the largest telephone psychic company in the world.1 Previously to publishing this deck, McHenry created The Occult Tarot, which is a 78-card deck featuring daemons of the 17th century with guidance on demon conjuration according to Solomonic principles.

It is McHenry’s incorporation of high magic that makes Angel Tarot very different from the usual New Age angel oracle cards or tarot decks. Every card features the tarot correspondence, the angel’s divine name, angelic number, few word description of the meaning of the name, astrological meaning of the card and angel, the angel’s abilities, summoning sigil, and magical seal. I realize this may not make sense to someone who doesn’t have much experience with high magic, but McHenry offers enough guidance that even a novice would be able to effectively use the cards to summon angels.

The guidebook introduction describes Cornelia Agrippa’s doctrine about every human being born with three guardian angels. McHerny describes the difference between each guardian angel, but leaves it up to the deck user to figure out which angels are their guardians. Then there is a brief overview of the hierarchy of angels. I have written a series about the different angels, so if you’re interested you can read a general overview here.

From here, McHenry provides succinct and straightforward directions to conjure angelic spirits. He even includes an image of the Grand Pentacle of Solomon to keep practitioners safe while using the deck. For those who wish to evoke an angel using one of the cards, there is a script for before and after the evocation. McHenry’s directions make it very easy to choose an angel from the deck to petition, connect with the angel, state your request, and then formally end the ritual. I absolutely love the ability to use the cards as a focal point while summoning angels. Angel magic has been what I plan on devoting my studies to this year, and the Angel Tarot is the perfect accompaniment for this undertaking in a safe, contained manner.

Other ways to use the cards suggested by McHenry are meditation and divination. Meditation can attune someone to the angel of your choice’s energy if they do not feel up for doing the full evocation ritual, and is what I would recommend from someone just getting used to the system of this method of working with angels. Then for those doing divination, McHenry writes, “When reading with this deck your answers may come from the tarot connection, the angel’s astrological connection or the angel’s ability.”2 This gives a lot of versatility with this deck, along with plenty of room to explore the different angel correspondences for study and oracular purposes. So far I’ve enjoyed working with the cards more for meditation than divination.

The rest guidebook is the description of meaning for each card. Fair warning, it is not in the style of a usual guidebook that will explicitly state what the card means. Each description has a biblical verse, photograph of the card, and information about when the angel is the soul, mortal, or physical guardian (excluding the six archangels, which have almost the exact same description on their card). This information is how one can find out who their three guardian angels are if they are interested in fostering a relationship with them in particular. The guidebook also shares the intonation for each angel’s name, which is important for ritual evocation, and rank in the angel hierarchy. I learned my moral and soul guardian are the same angel!

There are no specifics given about how the cards relate to the tarot other than this card is this tarot correspondence and guidance on how to do some common tarot spreads. Therefore you should already be familiar with the energy of tarot, otherwise you will not be able to make the associations as easily. Even without knowing the tarot correspondence though, there’s still value in this deck as a method to work with angels. I say this to ensure that someone who sees the title Angel Tarot knows that the main focus is on the 78 angels.

The cards in the deck are gorgeous. They are all coated in gold trim and have The Grand Pentacle of Solomon on the back and in the background of the front of the cards as all. The color scheme of gold, grey, and white hues give the deck a sleek, classical feeling. The images on the front of the cards look like Renaissance sketches. There’s a complexity to the simplicity to the cards, for they all look clean-cut but are filled with sigils, seals, imagery, and words that all seem to attract the eye at once. Red and black emphasize the imagery on some cards, making them more pronounced and striking as one looks through the deck.

I highly recommend Angel Tarot to anyone looking to establish a practice of summoning angels, enhancing their high magic practice, or learn more about the kabbalah hierarchy of angels. While it seems more suited for an experienced occultist, this deck is absolutely user-friendly for people to work with at a beginner level. As I delve into my year of dedicated study of the angels, I am very grateful to have this deck as an enhancement to work I plan on doing. McHenry has done a wonderful job of synthesizing arcane grimoires, occult knowledge, and magical practice to create an outstanding deck.

Green Witch Oracle, by Cheralyn Darcey

Green Witch Oracle: Discover real secrets of botanical magick, by Cheralyn Darcey
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924718, 44 cards, 144 pages, February 2021

Green Witch Oracle: Discover real secrets of botanical magick by Cheralyn Darcey is absolutely bursting with garden wisdom and colorful fun. This deck really pops, and it reminds me of a plentiful garden on a warm summer’s day. Darcey has beautifully blended elemental affinity with the secret sagacity of plants to create a multi-purpose deck. It is a splendid resource to create a magickal bond with plants through spellwork, learn about the different plant correspondences as you garden, or engage in divination with plant energy.

Opening the box and seeing the brilliant green back of the cards filled me with a sense of heart-opening abundance. The alchemical symbols for the four elements (fire, water, air, earth) are drawn in white on the back of the cards. The cards were nice and smooth as I shuffled them, offering little resistance due to their glistening shine.

Looking through the deck, I was struck by the bright color of all the varieties of plants featured in the deck. The creamy background is the perfect contrast to make the images burst forth and capture the reader’s attention. Black ink blots add to the dynamic energy of each card, further illuminating the plant image. There’s a wide range of plants featured in the deck, which include fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs.

On every card is the number at the top for guidebook reference, the elemental symbol, a key word, and the name of the plant (both common name and genus/species name). If the plant has an astrological correspondence, there is also a glyph of the zodiac sign. There are also little sketches of metaphysical objects that are related to the card’s meaning, such as a dreamcatcher for Marigold’s key word ‘Positivity’ and a sword for Fennel’s key word ‘Strength.’

I’ve been pulling a card a day and have very much enjoyed reading the guidebook to better understand the energy of each one. Reading through it I noticed that the deck is organized so that certain types of plants correspond with an elemental energy: vegetables are earth, herbs are fire, fruits are water, and flowers are air. Also being a tarot reader, the elemental correspondence of the cards made intuitive sense to me. Now when I pull a card, I am also able to sense the elemental energy within it too, which I feel has enhanced my readings.

In the guidebook, Darcey first provides a short and sweet introduction and a bit of information on how to use the deck. Then there are three garden-themed card spreads suggested. My favorite to use so far has been “The garden shed” that is meant to help the reader with a challenge they are facing. The card placements relate to gardening, such as Card 1 being called “the shovel,” and this card is meant to highlight the energy of “the deepest part that needs to come to light.”1 All the spreads are creative and well-suited for this deck. It was unique to see something different than the standard card placements (ex. past, present, future) often suggested.

The rest of the guidebook focuses on the 44 cards in the deck. For each card there is a quote, oracle meaning, description of the plant’s cultivation, and list of magical correspondences (uses, deities, celestial, and astrological sign). The best part is that there is also a spell to generate the energy of the plant in your life. All the spells listed use the plant of their card in the spellwork, which gives the reader another way to connect to the magickal energy of each plant.

So far I’ve only tried one spell: a desire spell from the Lettuce card. Who would have thought you could make an incredible facial mask with lettuce and use it to super-charge your desire? I did have to switch out dried milk for a bit of whole milk, but it still turned out just fine. Looking through the spells, I would say the majority of them can be done easily with simple ingredients most people already have in their kitchen. Next time I want to do some protection work, I plan on using the spell given in the guidebook for Onion!

The very end of the guidebook includes a small glossary of terms used and also *drum roll* a bibliography! I really like to see a nice bibliography, as so many books and decks seem to freely dispense information with no sources listed for where it was found. While things like the oracle meaning of the card are bound to be more subjective, I value Darcey’s sharing the sources of her knowledge. This is sure to be a starting point for readers that use the deck and wish to continue learning more about the gardening techniques and properties of different types of plants.

For anyone interested in enhancing their magick with a bit of green witchery this is absolutely a deck you’ll want to have in your collection. I highly recommend Green Witch Oracle to anyone who is interested in learning more about the energy of plants. Whether you’re interested in cultivating a magickal relationship or simply discovering new ways to connect with your garden through learning about plant properties and timing techniques, this deck is a wonderful resource. It’s a deck filled with an enthusiastic levity that makes these explorations fun and exciting.

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle: Harness the Intuitive Power of the Year’s Most Magical Night, by Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz
Rockpool Publishing, 978-1925924657, 180 pages, October 2020

I knew the deep magic of Halloween well before I ever heard the name Samhain. Sound familiar? This potent tome and deck of wisdom offers you the secrets of this sacred time in just the style to make your witchy heart sing. The Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle is a powerful transmission by mavens of their craft, Lorraine Anderson and Juliet Diaz. Anderson draws on her varied cultural heritage, which includes Benish, Romanian, and Irish. She is the co-founder of Sacred Craft Academy, an online school for mysticism and spiritual truth. Juliet Diaz is an Indigenous Taino Cubana. She is the author of Witchery: Embracing the Witch Within. This magical deck is exquisitely illustrated by Giada Rose, a Kentucky-based illustrator and designer who “strives with her paintings to create a portal into stillness,”1

This deck first pulled me in by it’s witchy aesthetic that is a little Charles Addams, a little Edward Gorey, and a whole lot of visual intuition and expressive magic. These images have an incredibly witchy vibe to them. The color palette is beautifully autumnal. The red gilt edges and details remind you that you are about to enter into ritual. Each card pairs a few lines of poetry with an evocative image to make this an accessible deck for working your will as a witch or witchling. This deck speaks so beautifully to young witches curious about what the craft might mean to them, especially as they deepen their knowledge of this sabbat. Any experienced witch who favors this season will no doubt enjoy the chance to immerse themselves in these archetypes. 

Samhain Oracle has come into my hands closer to Ostara, the spring equinox, than Samhain, the vernal equinox. I so appreciate being brought back into the energy of the thinning veil, of long, quiet nights to explore the inner realm. This deck does that impeccably. 

I offered my stepdaughter a reading with these cards over tea one afternoon; the deck practically begs for such precious rituals. We both loved how the poetry allowed us to wend our way into the cards with its familiars, tools, and archetypes of Samhain. The guidebook took us so much deeper in language both profound and accessible. One card we drew together was Dark Moon. A slender white woman set against the dark moon releases smoke from her palm — “In the dark of your heart lives new breath / waiting for you to release its ghost.”2 The card was on point for us both.

There are a couple cards that sing to me in particular. Wolf (44) offers two slender, white-skinned witches sitting at the hearth. The room they are in is both a home and a galaxy. The full moon shows its face through the window as a white wolf howls. There is so much vitality and quirkiness to these drawings, the hand of the artist is present in the way ink and watercolor stain the page and in the way objects are drawn. Wolf invites you all to “devour the ferocious calling within the howling of your / spirit. Run wildly into the freedom of your knowing.”3 

Pulling Healer (22) we see the lone woman of color represented in this deck; her soft, direct gaze centered by the full moon behind her and the full and crescent moon that sit at her third eye as she stands in ceremonial, feathered regalia. She invites us to “listen as the medicine bleeds through her / teeth, a river of mercy blessed by Mother. / Seen only by those who hold her mirror.”4 There’s something powerful in the joining of these paintings and poems; it gives you so much space to allow meaning to arise from the cauldron of your belly.

Throughout the deck there are so many potent symbols — Owl, Cauldron, Frog, The Veil. As I attune to the cards, I find they offer so much space for inquiry and curiosity. The visuals strike an exquisite balance between the macabre, so appropriate to the season, the whimsical, and the alchemical rooted in the power and agency of the wielder.

I am not usually that interested in guidebooks. Here with this deck, the book feels essential, particularly for those people who are learning to deepen their craft. There is an exquisite attention to color in Candle Magic (9); There is a wealth of information on the magical properties of Crystals and Herbs (12). This book is clearly written by experts in their fields — knowledgeable, wise women who want to make this knowing accessible.

I appreciate that Anderson and Diaz offered the reversal of each card. When you pull Wolf in reverse, the card invites you to “let yourself run wild, howl at the moon, dance naked, laugh for no reason, and sing your heart.”5 This deck is full of life that invites the querent to embody the wisdom offered in these cards through their own lived experience. 

Another delightful thing about the deck is how easy it is to shuffle the cards. They are thick enough to feel substantial and bendable enough for the perfect bridge shuffle. The flash of red as you work them is on point for the season. 

Seasons of the Witch: Samhain Oracle is a tool for someone who wants to understand witchcraft more deeply. It does not shy away from the more high sensation pieces of the witchy human-being experience–grief, transformation, letting go, being a bridge between the seen and unseen world. 

My deck is already promised to my stepdaughter, who is eagerly awaiting it. Hopefully, she’ll let me borrow it on occasion. It is a wonderful remember of how much poetry can help to anchor an idea while giving it room to grow. I absolutely plan to gift this to my playful, witchy friends when my favorite holiday looms.

Goddess Love Oracle, by Wendy Andrew

Goddess Love Oracle, written and illustrated by Wendy Andrew
Rockpool Publishing, 1925924329, 107 pages, 2021

Goddess Love Oracle is an incredible deck that packs a lot of Goddess guidance into it. Measuring only about 3 inches by 4 inches, the deck and accompanying guidebook are easily portable. In fact, creator Wendy Andrew recommends carrying the guidebook in your bag or pocket and opening it if you need inspiration or a bit of direction. As both author and illustrator, Andrew brings the wisdom of the Goddess into our lives with her beautiful paintings and accompanying writings. Based in southern England, she writes that she first heard “Goddess whispering in the wind and vibrating through the land.”1

When I first received the deck, I shuffled the cards and pulled Radiance, a card that illustrated the Goddess Flora, ringlets of golden hair flowing down her back. A halo of purple and pink flowers surround her head as she tilts her face toward the light and warmth of the sun. Her guidance was spot on for what was going on in my life: “No more hiding in the shadows, no more silencing your voice and no more walling up your heart.”2 I was immediately drawn in by the warm colors and comforting illustrations, which all have a feminine sense of fluidity to them.

Another day I did a three-card spread that Andrew calls “Work, Play and People.”3 Cards fully shuffled, I cut them into three piles and magically, I pulled three cards in numeric order, Rebirth, Reflection, and Rest, all cards that encouraged inward thinking, restoring one’s energy, and stillness. Incubating periods versus outward growth. Again, the cards resonated, and I felt the Goddesses communicated with me.

I truly loved how Andrew approached the deck – simple but certainly not simplistic, uncomplicated but complex. In the guidebook she writes that “there are no hard and fast rules about how to use the cards; simply do what feels right and that will be Goddess guiding you. Allow yourself to feel the essence of Her messages as Her love enfolds you.”4 She continues by offering very easy ways to connect with the message of the cards – sit quietly and when it feels right, shuffle the cards. Although she writes that there are many ways of laying out a card spread, she offers only three. There is a single-card reading and two three-card spreads: one on work, play, and people and the other on body, mind, and spirit.

The back of the cards contains a circle of 12 winter-bare trees, their roots extending into the earth until they reach a circle of eight purple hearts. The trees appear against what reminds me of a purple-colored, star-filled night sky. Then every Goddess is richly illustrated, inviting one to go deeper into the meaning/communication by quietly sitting with the image. As Andrew recommends, put the drawn card on your altar (if you have one) or in place where you’ll see it during the day. Allow the image and the Goddess’s message to become part of your day. Invite in the Goddess’s love and wisdom.

There are 36 Goddess cards in the deck, each card offering a message and also a connected “Goddess-inspired daily practice” such as a guided meditation, journaling/vision boarding, or doing something that brings you out of your comfort zone. The daily practices are intended to “deepen the communication”5 from the Goddess.

Almost all of the images contain animals with rabbits/hares and foxes dominating the group. I use the term animal loosely, including those of the air and water. Only two cards do not contain animal imagery, Rati (Love Your Body) and Quan Yin (Compassion). Also present in most of the cards is the spiral of the Divine Feminine, sometimes obvious and other times very subtle. The cards foster a sense of connection to the natural world.

Named Goddesses do not appear on all of the cards but those that are represented by name include Rhiannon (twice), Brigid (twice), Lakshmi, Demeter, Freya, Arta, Flora, Iananna, Cerridwen, and Mellangell. Other cards simply reference a communication from “Goddess.” 

The two cards featuring Brigid contain her flame, her light. One of Brigid’s cards is Awakening, encouraging us to live in the moment. A swan appears behind her, its extended white wings seemingly giving her the ability to fly. Spirals appear in her orange flowing hair and also on her forehead. Five white stars crown her head. He is cloaked in a garment covered in winter snowdrops, the flowers that first poke through the earth around Imbolc. A hare stands near her as she cradles a flame in her hand, Brigid asking if we are “ready to be fully awake?”6 The Goddess-inspired daily practices asks the reader to ask one’s self “What would happen if I released rather than strived?”7

Another card that I was drawn to was Hope, reminding us that “out of darkness comes light.”8 The card features Demeter and her daughter, Persephone. The star-filled winter evening sky contains a crescent moon. Bare trees stand on the landscape. In the right corner of the image one sees the pink of the rising sun. Two birds fly around Demeter, her head crowned in brown flowers. Her arms open to surround her daughter who holds a brown hare. Although this reunion will be short-lived, Persephone brings flowers and the hope of rebirth. As Andrew writes, “Demeter comes to you now, saying: ‘I understand. I hear you when you call for help. I know that there are times when life can be hard. But I also know that the darkness is balanced by the light.’”9 The Goddess-inspired daily practice encourages one to find a symbol of hope to carry around. 

Perhaps my favorite card is Wisdom, the last card in the deck. Here we encounter Cerridwen, the crone, the “ancient Welsh Mother Goddess.”10 Cerridwen is cloaked in purple, her garment covered in spirals. A spiral also appears on her forehead. She holds a cat that tenderly strokes her long hair. In her other hand she holds an orange pumpkin, carved with leaves and tendrils. The pumpkin holds a brewing hot liquid, steaming rising from its center. Cerridwen stands against a purple colored night sky, a sky that contains stars and a crescent moon.

Andrew reminds the reader that Cerridwen is here to tell that “you came into this life as a wise being and you have spent much of your time forgetting and unlearning.”11 She writes how the Goddess will “come…at significant times during your life to give you special opportunities to rediscover your inner wisdom.”12 The Goddess-inspired daily practice is a guided meditation that brings one into the presence of Cerridwen where one is invited into her house in the woods. 

I highly recommend Goddess Love Oracle for those who want a colorful burst of Goddess energy in their life. It is filled with messages of warmth and love, of hope and inspiration, of tenderness and guidance. Wendy encourages us to be “alert to any synchronicities that may occur” as we use the deck for “these may not be mere coincidences by subtle nudges from Goddess to heed her message.”13 I’ll let Andrew’s words close this review as they embody the intention of the deck: “May Goddess bless you with clarity, enlightenment and love.”14