Oracle decks I have known and loved

I have been binging on cardboard (more about that in a bit) and I thought I should share some of my favourite oracle decks with a quick seat-of-the-pants review on each pack...


If you have never heard of Psycards then you have most certainly been missing out. This 39 card deck has been around since the 80s and it's seen plenty of use on my reading cloth since I discovered it a few years ago. If you are a Lenormand enthusiast then you will know that Lenormand and Tarot are very different in terms of how they read. Well, Psycards manages to bridge that gap, allowing for some of the precision of Lenormand (in terms of fortune telling) with some of the deeper, more psychological qualities of the tarot. It also gives surprisingly accurate yes/no readings due to the inclusion of "yes" and "no" cards. Sounds too easy? Try it out and see. The art is groovy watercolour and pencil illustration. No ugly photoshop mish-mash on this classic, folks. The author also publishes a short but good interpretation manual that I like.


The mysterious Symbolon. This 78 card oracle is a German creation that fuses astrological symbolism with the author's modality of depth psychology, apparently. It is mysterious because all the books on working with the deck are in German and while the english LWB included with the pack does give a basic set of interpretations it's all pretty opaque. No problem! Just look at some of these cards; a hobbling Hermes, the holy grail, the Virgin emerging from the ocean - and my favourite - the black mass.  It's a no-brainer, really. Astrological glyphs included on each of the cards assist with matters somewhat. Lack of interpretive literature aside - it gives excellent readings if you just look at. Nice consistent colour pencil illustration throughout.

Tao Oracle

I have never seen I Ching derived cards that didn't stink. I think it's probably because the divide between the I Ching text, with all of it's profundity and multivalence, and any one image is simply too great. The Tao Oracle changes all that. It successfully fuses cartomancy and the I Ching, in my opinion. It comes with a tailored version of the I-Ching that works in tandem with the deck. Or simply use it as an oracle deck, if you want. The art is subtle and gorgeous. Natural imagery, rich colours, key words and pictograms give the reader cleverly nuanced visual expressions of the energy of each of the hexagrams. The Tao Oracle somehow manages to bridge the divide between oracular text and image. It manages to stay true to the spirit of the I Ching while being it's own (heavenly) animal. What's more, the card stock and finish is probably the best I have seen on any pack of cards! If you love the I Ching, I can't recommend it highly enough. My only gripe with it is that the fiddly method provided for deriving changing lines seems to rarely actually do so. This produces a locked hexagram, which is kind of frustrating if it happens too often. Certain locked hexagrams also give unlucky auspices (traditionally) which is unwelcome if it's only happening because the math is a bit skewed. I have a simple hack - roll a six sided die (such as found in monopoly) after drawing the primary hexagram to derive the changing line and thus the following hexagram.

Storyworld cards

Not even an oracle deck, technically! These are the Storyworld cards. A storytelling game for kids. The cards are used as storytelling prompts in the game, with a key phrase and prompt questions on the back of each card. Never mind that. These cards are incredible oracle cards! The art is gorgeous, high quality watercolour and pencil for that lush storybook feel - and let me say this again - these are fantastic oracle cards. Characters such as the Weaver of Fate, the Sword of Power, The King (and Queen), the Mother (and Father), Daughter (and son), The Castle, The Endless Forest, The Knight, The Dog, The Cat, the Key, The Ship and the Crystal Cup, leap out at you from these large, deep and detailed cards. It's almost like these cards were meant to be divined with. 

But hold on... the creators of this kids game also publish Tarot and Lenormand decks? That's right. This is no oracular accident, friends! Some lucky kids out there are being groomed for fortunetelling as we speak. What's more - there are expansion packs. This brings a dimension of deck-building into the whole affair which is either wildly exciting or financially perilous, depending on how you look at it. Especially considering some of the out-of-print expansions (such as the Animals expansion) on amazon seem to be going for astronomical sums. I can't get enough of these cards. Lenormand techniques work well with it while the glorious detail on each card makes it possible to use a single card for rich, intuitive readings. Fine tuning my deck by adding or removing cards amuses me no end. The readings it produces are imaginative, playful and usually very insightful. Recommended for diviners of all ages!


Let Him Go with Scissor Magic

There are times when we are simply unable to let go of someone. Often the problem is plainly psychological; yet sometimes it's because there are subtle but persistent energetic links that complicate matters. Clairvoyants describe these as cords attached to the auric field. Resultantly, you may find yourself dwelling on your ex long after the usual mourning period.  Our perpetual hyper-connectivity does not help much either, providing plenty of opportunity for social media torment. Worse yet, the other person may have ended the relationship abruptly by “ghosting” you - unexpectedly blocking all contact, social media and so forth - without so much as a word of explanation. Getting discarded in this way can wreak emotional havoc. In the extreme, clients report recurring dreams, intrusive thoughts and a sense of bondage that friends and family fail to understand.

To this end, scissors are magically useful for severing psychic and emotional ties.

A brief anecdote attests to the power of even the simplest scissor magic: during a reading a client of mine who is a hostess at an establishment in Amsterdam’s red light district described how when a patron overstays his welcome she will lay a pair of open scissors - blades facing in the client’s direction - behind the bar where they can’t see it. Pretty soon the unwanted guest will grow uncomfortable and leave.

It is this ancient potency of the shears' open blades that we will be invoking in the following spell. It will cleanly sever all lingering mental, emotional and sexual ties with a person. With some modification this spell can be used to break contact with a spirit that may have been useful at one time but has become bothersome for whatever reason. The spell is designed to bring a firm but loving severance. It does not harm the other party. It sends them away with a blessing. But send them away it does.

You will need

pair of scissors
photo of you with your ex
blue vigil candle
appropriately gendered pink figural candle to represent the ex
pink figural candle for yourself
holy water (from a church)
clear drinking glass
healing and blessing condition oils

Set Up

You will want to set this up in a fireproof dish or pan of some sort. Dress the blue vigil with healing oil. Take a pin and carve your ex’s name on the appropriately gendered candle and yours on the other. You should proceed to baptize each candle using a few drops of holy water, naming them respectively. Anoint your ex’s candle with blessing oil, as you do so offer a sincere blessing to them. Anoint your candle with healing oil, praying for your own healing. Next, set the two figural candles so that they are facing apart - the ex’s candle facing to the left. Place the glass between the two candles and fill it with holy water. Place the photo somewhere to the side of this arrangement along with the scissors ready for action.

The Work 

Light the blue vigil to watch over the work with a heartfelt prayer for release and healing. Light the two figural candles next; again blessing your ex as you light his candle. Call on divine strength and healing as you light your own. Now, take up the glass of holy water and speak into it everything that you need to say to your ex; everything that went unsaid or otherwise could not be said. Speak from the heart and make it count - the water will be transmitting that to them. If you cry let your tears drip into the holy water. When you are absolutely done and emptied of all that needed to be said, put the glass back between the candles. Take the photo and scissors - cut the two of you apart with a decisive stroke. Place your ex’s half face down under the glass, and yours face up under the blue healing vigil.

Hold the scissors with ceremonial conviction and cut in front of your brow, say firmly: I cut all mental cords to N! 
Then, cut in front of your heart and say: I cut all emotional cords to N!
Following that, cut in front of the groin area and say: I cut all sexual cords to N!

You may want to visualize cords severed and dissolving into dust.

Finally, vigorously snip all around the ex’s candle as you declare: I permanently sever all ties to N! Continue snipping around the candle till you feel that the moment is right and then position the open blades on top of the glass facing the ex's candle between the two figures, like so:

Leave the figurals (and vigil) to burn. The figural candles will burn down within a few hours, the vigil will take 5-7 days. Each day return to the spell, take the scissors and again repeat the words above as you cut in front of your head, heart and groin. Each day, place the scissors back on top of the glass as before. When the blue vigil has finally finished burning dispose of the water and other remains of the spell at a crossroads.


How to NOT let the tarot drive you crazy

Reading the tarot for yourself can be hard at first. It's a practice. Especially when you are upset. This may be why at one time it was common to hear it said that a tarot reader should never read for themselves. While holding to this old idea would have robbed us of the many joys of reading solo, the truth is that the cards can drive you a little crazy if you don’t take care.

I recently had a client come to me, emotionally wrecked. She had woken from a bad dream and deciding to turn to the tarot drew the Nine of Swords. A cloying dread seized her when she saw that anguished figure, swords looming above. Something bad was about to happen. Later that day (hoping to allay her anxiety) she drew another card only to be blasted by the Tower's bolt. This launched a week long jig with the more troubling characters in the pack. The more freaked out she became the worse the cards seemed to get. Naturally, every problem in her life took on a sinister bent as she tried to anticipate what disaster the cards could be predicting. And the tarot  - now a cruel jester - seemed to jeer at her as she flailed in this quicksand of bad dreams, swords and towers. In the end nothing truly bad happened; the world did not end. Well, actually, something bad did happen. She felt like the world was about to end. 

The cards can be a wise guide, but make no mistake, they can also be pitiless.

Looked at from a nuanced angle the cards were accurate in their way. Her question and state of mind were the issue. You see, waking from a bad dream is more or less exactly what is depicted on the Nine of Swords! The cards were being literal. They were saying “this is a bad dream”. Similarly, her world had been turned upside-down as the Tower suggested. However, what followed after that first draw is not unlike what happens when you take a microphone too close to the speaker: a horrible squealing noise erupts from the feedback loop of fear and scary cards.

This means that if you are just getting into the tarot you have to be careful when reading for yourself if you are upset or stressed out. Not because the cards cannot be useful at times like this - they can be exceptionally useful - but for the novice it can be all too easy to make things worse when the cards go into this mantic feedback loop. Similarly, take care when reading for yourself just before a job interview, big presentation, or other high stress situation where your performance could be hampered by a bum reading! You don’t need it.

Here are some tips for keeping it sane at times like these:

Calm Down

Don't whip the cards out straight after that break-up call. Don't wail at the cards asking stuff like "will I be alone forever?!" The tarot is going to be a total bitch. Trust me. Take some time to calm down and reflect. Take a bath. Reading when upset doesn’t work for two principal reasons; you lack the objectivity to interpret the cards constructively and emotional agitation can influence which cards you draw. 

Write it down

This is a good habit anyway but is exceptionally helpful when you are reading on topics that are emotionally difficult. Firstly, when writing the reading out to yourself you should intentionally adopt a gentle, non-sensational, self-supporting voice. This is a conscious stance you take with yourself. Don't bullshit yourself, but be kind - especially if you are feeling depressed, shamed or your self esteem has otherwise been damaged by whatever has prompted the reading. Secondly, writing a reading out helps take that tangled mass out of your head and objectify it on paper, allowing you to get some distance from it. 

Don’t ask for outcomes

Remove all predictive positions from the spread that show the outcome, future etc. Instead, ask what you can do to turn a problem around. Ask how best you should look at the problem. Ask what you should let go of. Divine for solutions, underlying causes and ask for spiritual guidance. Use the cards to motivate positive action.  Essentially, you want to use the cards to gather data to help you to move forward instead of prediction. When you find yourself walking through the valley of the shadow of death, paradoxically, not knowing what is going to happen next sometimes can help you make it through to the other side.

Emphasise positive meanings

All the 'negative' cards have positive aspects. In a stressed out state of mind we are prone to cognitive distortions; twisted ways of thinking that catastrophize, exclude the positive from a situation and see things in absolutes or extremes. This inclination is an evolutionary adaptation that helps us avoid tigers lurking in bushes, but can really screw up a reading. When reading stressed you have to consciously adjust for this negative bias by choosing to emphasise the positive. Remember, you want to make things better not worse. For the most part our fears are exaggerations.

Let the spread rest

Once you have done the initial reading - leave the cards on the table (preferably overnight) and come back to them later. The symbols will ‘stew’ in your heart and when you look at them the next day they will pop with new information and clarity.

Get a reading from someone qualified

Sometimes it is best not to read for yourself at all. Instead, seek out a good reader. A good reader will be able to look at a hard topic and give you an accurate, constructive reading without scaring the living daylights out of you. You should walk away feeling better. This is important because if you think you can drive yourself crazy with the cards - believe me - a clumsy reader, or worse, a reader with bad intentions can make you feel far, far worse. It is entirely possible to receive difficult news in a reading and walk away feeling empowered, enlightened and galvanised by the reading. 

This is the art of a true gifted reader, who is also a healer.