The Earthbound Oracle, by AL Swartz
In the past, I’ve mentioned that I’m ‘not that into oracle decks’, mainly because I’m in love with the whole system of tarot, and also kind of because I’ve never really found a way to use them that really resonates for me.
Well, today is a day for eating words. I ate words for breakfast and words for lunch. Time to eat some more!
The Earthbound Oracle arrived on my desk mid yesterday afternoon. I couldn’t have asked for it at a better moment – I had a big dilemma going round and round in my mind. Without stopping to admire the cards, the box or anything much at all, I took the cards’ arrival as a sign and leaped straight into a three-card reading. It was incredibly helpful.
Today, despite having been up since 4am (hey there insomniac brain), I’m ready to dive in and explore these cards…
In terms of what you get physically, this is a very simple deck comprising 50 playing-card sized cards and a neat little tuck box. There’s no book, no guidance, no nothing. (Which I like very much.) The cards have a nice smooth laminate so they shuffle beautifully and feel sturdy. The backs of the cards have a neat crescent moon design.
I came across this deck whilst checking out the Wooden Tarot, also created by AL Swartz. My friend Marianne had been blogging with this gorgeous tarot deck lately and, as is so often the case with Marianne’s writing, I’d been wondering if the Wooden Tarot was one for me. (I don’t mind admitting that seeing Temperance as a sea otter was a big part of the tug.)
In the end, though I admired the tarot deck greatly, I opted for the oracle – something about it told me that I needed it far more. Andy’s artwork seems to lend itself especially well to oracle cards, where concepts are more singular and (perhaps) less theoretical than in the tarot.
So – the cards themselves! What can I say about an oracle deck without literally listing the cards? First of all – I love them. I love the simple yet detailed illustrations. I love the way they feel a little spooky, but friendly, too. I love the choice of concepts included, such as ceremony, growth, guide, gift.
There’s a weight to these cards – perhaps that’s why it’s called the ‘earthbound’ oracle. On the back of the box Andy describes this deck as ‘practical and down to earth’, but it’s more than that. These cards are full of bones and rocks, flesh, branches, growth and decay. Wildlife, water, nature. There are very few man-made objects (a ribbon, a compass, a candle, a book) which gives it all such a grounded, real kind of solidity.
The four elements are all here, too – something else I find pleasing. They form a neat series and could be used on their own:
I plan to use these cards the way I use my other oracles – for a word of wisdom to wind up a tarot reading, for advice or food for thought in the morning or before making a decision. But I may also use these in the same way I do tarot cards – in simple spreads, perhaps. They seem to me to carry that kind of gravity. (Does anyone else use oracle cards this way?)
This ain’t much of a review, as I’ve not spent much time with my lovely new deck. But I’ll be keeping it nearby in coming weeks, and turning to it often. Expect many more pictures!
If you’re in the US, you can get the Earthbound Oracle (and the Wooden Tarot!) directly from skullgarden.net. If you want to peruse his artwork in more detail, you can also view galleries and find out all about Andrew and his work.
Not in the US? You can buy the Earthbound Oracle in the Little Red Tarot shop! (And the Wooden Tarot, too.)
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.