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