The Shaman’s Oracle Deck Review

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Today, let’s talk about The Shaman’s Oracle deck. Just so that you’re aware, I have an issue with this one.

Let’s get the boring shit out of the way first. The card stock is glossy but somewhat sticky. They almost create a vacuum between one another, and that makes them a bitch the shuffle. They’re not super big cards, but they are larger than “normal” sized tarot cards. The box is sturdy, but much larger than necessary.

Whoa, now.

Whoa, now.

The bottom half of this box is completely empty. There are little shelves inside the box that hold the deck and the book firmly in place halfway up the thing, and half of the book and deck are actually enclosed in the lid.

Alright, now for the interesting shit. I love the theme of this deck: every card is an exact replica of cave paintings from all over the world. They were redrawn (I would assume for clarity), cast in special lighting, and have become the cards you see here.

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Are those not beautiful as fuck? Their meanings are pretty straightforward too, like Foresight, Birth, Tradition, Joy, and Loss. Now, if this was as far as the deck went, if the book was only full of card descriptions and background on the art, I would be perfectly fine.

Perfect. Now please stop here.

Perfect. Now please stop here.

However, it’s not. All of a sudden, shit starts to get sketchy. The deck is broken into five sections of ten cards each (plus two additional bullshit cards): Ancestors, Hunters, Dancers, Shamans, and Spirits. My issue with this is that there’s really no reason for the sections. I would get it if, say, all of the Hunter cards had to do with conflict, but all of the cards seem to be randomly flung into sections just for the hell of it.

The sections

The sections

These sections are additionally given elements and “caves,” which we’ll talk about in a minute. Ancestors are Earth element and Earth Cave. Hunters are Water element and River Cave. Dancers are Fire element and Hearthfire Cave. Shamans are Air element and Winds Cave. Spirits are Aether element and Ice Cave. Again, however, all Dancer cards do not have anything in common, all Shaman cards do not have similarities to one another, etc.

It’s almost as if the makers of this deck feared simplicity. “Is anyone going to take this shit seriously if it’s so simple? Nah, let’s spice it up a little. Let’s just barf words into the guidebook, making sections and separations and turn it all into a big tangle of horseshit and potential.”

The most offensive part of this Oracle, to me, is this:

THE SPREAD

THE SPREAD

I don’t have a problem with new spreads. I love new spreads. Please, show me a spread that works well with your oracle deck. But not fucking this. There are five “Cave” spaces, see them? Each is a cave that a section of the cards belongs to. The instructions in the book say to shuffle the deck well and place a card in each cave. Well, okay, but…can any card go in any cave? Nothing tells me to divide the deck into sections. So can a Hunter card, which is associated with the Cave of Rivers, go in the Cave of Ice if I draw it first? What if I don’t draw a single Shaman card in my five cards? What goes in the Cave of Winds?

Oh, look. They’ve included a little spread map for this bullshit spread.

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Potentially the weirdest part of this deck are the Journeyer and Companion cards.

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These two little bastards are to be pulled from the deck before using it and placed in the “palm” area of the “hand-shaped” Bullshit Spread. (Because apparently it’s still too simple.) The Journeyer represents the seeker and The Companion is your “spiritual guide.” Is this not turning into a game of fucking telephone? I ask a question of the Journeyer, who asks the Companion who apparently runs around to each cave to ask for opinions, then reports back to the Journeyer, who in turn tells me what the Companion said the other cards said. Um…I AM the journeyer and the cards are my goddamn “companion.” I don’t need these cards. They probably fuck up the messages anyway.

STOP.

STOP.

In conclusion: these cards are awesome, but fuck the spread. And the Journeyer. And the Companion. And the Caves.

When I, personally, bust out an oracle deck, it’s to make my life easier. If I don’t want to have to sift through the layers of the Tarot, I grab an oracle deck and I expect a quick, clean answer. Ignoring the haphazard classifications and the Bullshit Spread, I just use these as a simple, straightforward deck.

Using them like I want to use them, they’re fucking brilliant. “Sorrows, bitch. Loss. Frustration. Lies. Have a nice day. Oh wait, and Conflict.”

The artwork, though, almost has the ability to alter your state of consciousness. Staring hard, not “at” but “into,” the cards causes some weird-ass hallucinations. You get a faint waft of damp fur and wood smoke, and the firelight starts to flicker on the cave walls. Something whispers for you to come home, but you’re already sitting at your kitchen table, and it makes your heart sad. It’s some powerful shit.

Also, some of the cards crack me up. I’m probably looking at them wrong.

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Here I see a silly looking rabbit with its eyebrows on fleek, an ancient  badminton game, and a cartoon witch sharing a broom with a kid wearing a brontosaurus hat.

WHERE CAN I GET THIS DECK?

I don’t know. I got mine off of eBay.

The Antique Anatomy Tarot Review (number one)

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I took the above photo all willy-nilly and slapped it on instagram, and had I known I would end up using it on the blog, I probably would have made the circle of cards more even. But, you know…fuck it.

Anyway, behold the Antique Anatomy Tarot by Black and the Moon! It’s only temporarily the Major arcana, and the rest of the deck is scheduled to be released early 2016.

This is one of those indie, self-published decks that will plummet its artist to stardom, and I will be honored to be able to say I got to nag at her to hurry up with the minor arcana.

These tarot cards were inspired by a love of oddities and antique anatomy books. Just look at this shit.

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These cards are beautifully minimalistic: they’re not full of a bunch of shit. This deck is to the point, and that’s how I want it.

So: cardstock. Let’s talk about it. These have a nice matte finish. They’re not sticky, they’re not slippery, and they’re a nice, regular size for tarot cards. I’m not going to fucking measure them. However, there is one thing I must say about the cardstock: it warps. I have two other self-published decks that are on this exact same cardstock, and they have done the very same thing. (I never “bridge shuffle” my decks, so I do not warp them.) The good news is it’s an easy fix. I slammed a couple of big, thick, heavy books on top of them overnight. Done.

Now we can talk about the fun shit. Here are the card backs:

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The backs of the cards look like the worn leather of an old, creepy anatomy book. They’re completely reversible (if you have time for that bullshit).

The details are fucking magnificent. Each card has astrological symbols that coincide with each card. For some reason, one of my favorite things is the little “item. the hierophant, fig. V”

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Just like in those old anatomy books.

I know this is a common question, so I’ll just say it: YES, this deck is very readable. It’s all too often that someone comes up with a really badass, specialized idea for a deck, but the end result is just…a bunch of similar pictures with a constant theme, but they don’t really MEAN anything. This deck is not like that. I super-duper love the artist’s use of animal skeletons as well as humans. And combinations of animals and humans.

I guess I would call this a “dark deck.” Some of the imagery is a bit…chilling.

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I’m writing this from about a month away from Samhain, but I’m going to be using this bitch all year round. There’s no shitty coloring book drawings or neon colors screaming from this deck. The color scheme is subdued, mostly black and an aged parchment color. I mean, this shit is classy. It’s fucking sophisticated.

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Personally, I feel like I never had to “get to know” this deck. It showed up and it felt like an old friend. If this deck were a person, it would be the old woman in the tiny house just outside of town. She lives alone, but she’s never lonely. Her hair is wispy and gray, and her eyes are a pale grayish blue. Her rocking chair creaks on the front porch as she slowly knits with knobby hands and scratchy wool. The tea kettle is already on by the time you get there; she knew you would be visiting, because you always do. The window ledge above her kitchen sink is crammed with little glass bottles and jars that almost seem sinister until you see her pull dried elder flower out of one, wild sage out of another. She listens while you talk, and her only response is a pointed facial expression now and then. When you leave, you’re not really even sure if the place existed or not.

I love every fucking thing about this deck. I’ve named it Ethel.

Buy us, bitch.

Buy us, bitch.

WHERE YOU CAN GET THIS DECK:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/blackandthemoon?ref=search_shop_redirect