The Thing About Oracles

I have to admit that I just don’t “get” the current crop of oracle decks. I have several and a number of them are quite beautiful, but they don’t really speak to me in any useful or meaningful way. The main problem, at least for me, is that each deck has its own unique system of interpretation, and it is necessary to learn that if you don’t plan to approach the deck’s images in an entirely free-form manner by absorbing the visual cues. I have no problem with that for those who thrive on such fluidity, but I like some intellectual “connecting tissue” to bind my readings together, and bouncing all over the map from one isolated card meaning to another in hope of something jelling becomes an exercise in frustration. Chalk it up to my preferred reading style, which is more methodical and analytical than freely associative.

There are exceptions. The PsyCards I find both attractive and functional (although I really should buy the companion book to get the most value out of them). The Messenger Oracle I have used in combined readings with the Voyager Tarot to give a more colloquial perspective. The Chrysalis Tarot, which in many ways is more “oracle” than “tarot,” is a splendid deck that inspires appealing side-trips into unconventional territory if one sets standard meanings aside and gives free rein to the imagination. In many cases, though, the sticking point for me beyond the alien structure is that so many of these decks seem to be aimed solely at affirmation; the cards are decidedly positive in nature rather than balanced. I like a deck that effectively blends light and shadow since there isn’t much empowerment to be gained from simply saying “It’s all good.” In that sense, the concept behind the various “angel cards” does little for me.

In retrospect, I could have done without the Oracle of Visions, which I find entirely too mannered for my taste, and the Earth Wisdom oracle, while nicely executed, doesn’t move me either. It takes more than pretty pictures to make a worthwhile reading deck, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to deal with reinventing the wheel each time I tackle a new deck. At this point I’m not intending to seek out any more modern oracle decks for my collection, and will only consider established cartomantic systems that offer a particularly compelling vision. The Kipper cards and the playing cards are two that I intend to explore in greater depth, and Lenormand will continue to be a mainstay of my practice.

5 thoughts on “The Thing About Oracles

  1. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about lately as well. I’ve wanted to pair some of my tarot decks with an oracle (or another form of divination) for quite some time. Admittedly, I bought a few of Doreen Virtues’ products before they were supposed to go through their Christian overhauling (as I wanted them with original meanings if getting them at all). Couldn’t help but notice exactly what you mean, everything is very positivity oriented.

    The one oracle I’ve found to be of huge value to me, is actually The Camelot Oracle. There’s a wonderful balance of themes, while helping to dig into matters. The cards are also large, but easily able to be shuffled. Not sure if you’re looking for something, but just thought I’d share how it’s the one oracle I’m happy with. But all in all, I’m glad I’m not the only one disappointed in the modern oracles available. Other systems or pairing tarot decks with each other, might indeed be a solution worth examining some more. 🙂

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    • Hmm. I took a look at the Camelot Oracle and the eyes of many of the characters look a bit deranged, like they’re plotting something especially sinister. It is unquestionably a Will Worthington creation. As far as pairing, I’ve been using dice and cards together quite a bit, as a few of my more recent posts show.

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  2. I’ve never gotten into oracle decks. I think you’re right, that they’re aimed more toward affirmations rather than readings. I too like a more methodical reading. There’s something about deconstructing the components of the cards and putting them back together to get the meaning, and then looking to see how other artists have done the same thing in their own way.
    Part of my own series that I do on my blog, where I compare seven different decks and their versions of the cards, I look at the symbolism the artists use. I think I shot myself in the foot while doing this though, as I’m realizing four of the decks I really liked have little actual symbolism to represent the card, they’re just pretty images fitting the bare minimum of the card, if that makes sense. Anyway, I find myself less inclined to take them out of their bags as a result.
    I think that’s exactly why I’m not a fan of Oracle decks. They’re more pretty images to a meaning rather than something to study and take a part and dive deep into. Though, I suppose, I can’t make that claim for all of them.

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  3. I love oracles. The ones that are mainly affirmative I use a daily draw to get me started on my day. With self-esteem issues and depression, they are nice to see. But my main decks are Wisdom Oracle, it has a section for reversed cards, messenger, the map, and a few others if I am in the mood for journaling. Another favorite is the Halloween Oracle. I don’t think its affirmative at all. It’s by Stacey Demarco.

    Sometimes Hayhouse has a $7 a deck sell, buy 3 and get free shipping. They have some weird decks and i may buy a few decks then that I would not normally buy, because I am curious. 😉

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