Unearthing stories with the Sweet/Nothing Oracle

Guest post by Sara.

There are countless beautifully illustrated tarot and oracle decks in the world, and I’ve found inspiration and deep introspection through using them. But I’ve also longed for a deck that allows the reader to interpret words instead.

A written oracle. No images on the card faces, just words. Words that might appear basic in other circumstances, but get much more impactful when they are the answer to a question. The Sweet/Nothing Oracle is that deck.

We explain the world through stories.

We witness the beauty and the tragedy around us and synthesize those experiences into beginnings, middles, and ends. We share the things we witness with others. We internalize them to become part of our own narrative. Each of us is a collection of stories. We bring them with us wherever we go. They help us give context to what’s happening now. They help us find the ground in the midst of an often chaotic world.

But sometimes we get stuck in stories that are unhelpful. Sometimes we need perspective to see through fictions we’ve created or break away from old stories that no longer serve us.

I created the Sweet/Nothing Oracle from some of the stories that make up my life. When I began developing the deck, I started by reviewing what I’d already written. I dug through volumes of journals and scrap pieces of paper. I thumbed through pages of old tarot readings and countless notes written in the early hours of the morning on my iPhone.

Then I wrote more.

I wrote on the couch, on the plane, in a cabin in the desert, next to a river in the mountains. I wrote through fear after the election, in the glow of intimacy, through tears of loss. Pretty soon I had dozens of short poems. Fragments of my heart. Raw little pieces of myself made bare, because I couldn’t help but write.

The poems of the Sweet/Nothing Oracle are stories from my own life that manage to be archetypal as well: snapshots of moments in time. But the cards that evolved from them are meant to bring the snapshot of the present into clear focus.

Each of the 33 poems in the collection are numbered, words bolded to denote the oracle cards in the context of their written whole:

9. Dirty socks and unhooked bras form small hills on my bedroom floor. Half-empty glasses perched between the wall of books and the jar full of last summer’s dried flowers. Yarrow. Healer. Little feather.

10. I read once that, as a child, Achilles was dipped head-first into the river Styx by his mother, Thetis. An attempt to protect him, she held him by the heels and hoped the water would make him immortal (fire had gone badly for her previous children).

11. Alas, she held him by his heels.

12. Pliny the Elder credited the centaur, Chiron, with discovering the science of medicine. After Thetis left Achilles, his father sent him to learn from wise Chiron. Chiron taught Achilles how to use yarrow to staunch cuts.

13. Before the arrow (before he bled out), Achilles carried yarrow into battle, pressing flowers into solder’s wounds.

14. Can you imagine? Open gashes— in torsos, on arms, across thighs— all anointed with blossoms. Bodies blooming that the sword might be undone by a flower.

Each oracle card includes the number the word’s corresponding foundation poem for easy reference if the reader chooses, but is inconspicuous enough to fade away if they prefer to follow their own intuition instead.

The individual words of The Sweet/Nothing Oracle can be interpreted many ways: through their literal definitions, through each reader’s unique life experience, and through the context of their foundation poems. These layers of meaning offer boundless opportunities for self-reflection, creativity, and divination.

The first of it’s kind, Sweet/Nothing Oracle Deck features 77 text-only cards with an accompanying 128-page guidebook. Within the guidebook, readers will discover the 33 original foundation poems with bolded words to denote the oracle cards, as well as a guide for each word, spreads, and a journal for reflections. This simple, impactful deck is minimally and tastefully designed to spark intuition and is available through November 16 on Kickstarter.

About the author

Sara Holodnick (aka Sara Galactica) is a writer and multimedia artist based in Bellingham, Washington. Holodnick utilizes inventive and unexpected mediums such as original cocktails, historical walking tours and divination decks to tell stories. In addition to her work as a writer, cocktail developer and artist, she helps others examine their own stories through tarot and oracle readings.

Image credit to Campfire Photography.

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