Is it okay to say that I’m not that into oracle decks?
(But if you are, you’ll find a growing collection of guest posts about oracles here!)
The oracle decks I’ve come across are a little too ‘angels and pastels’ for my taste, plus I really (really) like the ‘system’ of tarot, with its discernible journey, four suits/elements and (usually) 78 familiar cards.
I don’t generally like words written on my cards, either – a feature of most oracle decks I’ve seen.
I get that this can make cartomancy (using cards for divination or self-exploration) more accessible. Tarot can seem so impenetrable, elitist even, with its symbols, its history, its emphasis on ‘learning the traditional meanings’, whereas it feels like you can pick up an oracle deck without any prior knowledge, draw a card, and get a dose of wisdom right there and then.
Which is great! Just…not my main jam.
That said, I do have a couple of oracle decks!
One is Dori Midnight’s Dirty Tarot Cards.
These cards are THE BOMB. Seriously. I want to cry when I use them, they feel so right, so full of kindness and wisdom and celebration of the everyday mess that makes up my life.
As Dori writes in her introduction:
I call this deck dirty because it is not in any way ethereal or pure; instead it is a collection of symbols of things that we have, touch, desire, or tend to in our messy lives.
Cards in this deck include ‘Tattoo’ – representing physical change to indicate something going on inside, ‘Grandma’s Handbag’ – symbolising the preparedness of your ancestors and the tools they once used that you still probably need to get by (including tissues). Then there’s my personal favourite: ‘Batter’, which Dori describes as ‘creative energy in raw form.’
These cards were created in 2001 and are no longer for sale, but I MASSIVELY recommend you spend some time with Dori by checking out her blog, Midnight Apothecary, or peruse her lovely website, Dorilandia.
Also, here’s a useful post about where to buy her amazing magical-herbal goods – her Boundaries in a Bottle inspired my own Secret Soul Shield, and her Witches, Bitches and Hos is a supportive tincture for edge-dwellers and nonconformists.
The other oracle deck I own is the Wolf Pack Tarot
Again, this is not a tarot deck. The Wolf Pack Tarot, created by Robert Petro, is illustrated in pencil crayon by Pat Morris and contains 78 cards – unusually, these are landscape.
These cards go further than the single key-word – there is a whole meaning written on every card. I’m not sure how I feel about this (one of them says you will find love and marry within 12-18 months!! Er…) but I just love the idea – human experiences being illustrated through these graceful, wild, beautiful creatures.
How I use oracle decks in my tarot practice
I’d never use an oracle deck alone when working with a client. I’m a tarot reader, and a tarot reading in the sort-of-traditional sense is what you get. But lately, I’ve started turning to my oracle decks (especially Dori’s cards) to round off a reading.
I don’t believe in predictive tarot, and for this reason I reject the ‘outcome’ card that appears in so many spreads, including the ubiquitous Celtic Cross. Here’s a whole post I wrote about alternatives to ‘outcome’ cards – most often I substitute ‘advice’, ‘clarification’ or similar.
Increasingly, though, I’m using an oracle card in this position. providing a simple, quick-and-dirty final word on the matter. It closes a reading nicely and adds a lovely variety to the reading too. Where tarot cards can sometimes (not always, by any stretch!) be ambiguous in their meaning, an oracle card has a knack of saying ‘here you go. Suck on that’ which I really, really appreciate.
As a reader, this helps me to draw my email readings to a close.
My readings are long, and I often find myself going back over, adding additional thoughts and ideas to paragraphs written earlier. Pulling an oracle card protects me as a reader, giving me a bookend, saying ‘that’s enough now.’ And for my querents, faced with a long reading full of all kinds of ideas, it can be something to focus on while the rest settles in.
Longer does not mean better – my tarot readings are long because I”m verbose, because I get lost in the cards, because I’m really interested in you, because one thing leads to another and I always have too much to say. This practice of drawing an oracle card is an act of generosity towards both you – the querent – and I – the reader – by succinctly summing up in a word or two the key thing that must be known.
What about you?
Do you use oracle decks? Maybe oracle cards got you into tarot in the first place? Do you have a favourite? Or are you as prejudiced against them as I am!?
As always, I’d love to hear your views 🙂
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.