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.
Alanna Kali is an astrologer, numerologist, and pioneer spirit that loves to explore life through the lens of depth psychology. She has a passion for studying the humanities and social trends. Her academic work is centered upon reuniting body, mind, and spirit through eco-psychology. She loves reading, spending time in nature, and travel.