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.
Allyson Seal is The Art + Sex Witch. Their pronouns are she & they. If they were a tarot spread, they would be The Three of Swords, The Empress, and The Star. If they were a planet, they would be Pluto. Allyson is a psychic medium, an artist, and a teacher. They believe that we can heal the wounds of our hearts and our spirits through our own attention. They also believe that it’s more fun if we do it together with creativity and sensuality. You can learn more about them at theartandsexwitch.com.