Another day, another deck; but perhaps not just any deck. This post is my test run of LXXXI (that’s 81 in Roman numerals), The Magician’s Deck. This 81-card oracle deck is geared towards the working magician (in what people might think of as a shamanic, service-oriented practice), particularly those doing the Quareia course. As such it fits nicely in the box with decks that are esoteric in nature, where “esoteric” is not synonymous with Golden Dawn or Qabalah. I was trying to think what decks to relate it to, and I could jokingly say that it’s the lovechild of the Dreampower Tarot and the Playing Card Oracles Alchemy Edition, with the Thoth as an estranged godparent.
There is some truth to my jest, in that one of the artists is Stuart Littlejohn, who created the Dreampower Tarot back in the 90s. Credit must also go to the other artist, Cassandra Beanland, and the prime mover behind the deck, Josephine McCarthy — who is a tarot expert, even if you won’t see her at tarot forums or conferences.
While designed to be a magician’s divination tool, I believe this deck is workable by anyone who feels drawn to it. The results will depend on how well the reader can translate concepts that may seem grand and abstract into everyday life. I think this is true of many decks, even the standard tarot. If you’ve ever interpreted the Magician as a business professional, the Chariot as a car or the Devil as sexual relations or organizational skills, then most likely you could make the jump to this deck.
The deck itself, as mentioned, has 81 cards. The sides look like they have a bit of saddle-stitching on them, with little bumps. Ms. McCarthy told me this is a side-effect of the printer creatively accommodating the printing of 81 cards, and in practice I find it unnoticeable. The cardstock is a bit slippery, at least in the deck’s brand new condition, but is pleasing to my hands and the deck has a nice heft. The artwork is, in my opinion, much more attractive in person than online. I had doubts about whether I’d find all of the art appealing in hand when I committed to the crowdfunding, but I found all of the illustrations quite attractive when I got the deck. Even the cards that had looked a little creepy to me online.
My test drive of the deck was to ask the question, what are the energies influencing this deck? I used the four card elemental spread that pairs nicely with this deck. I had to laugh when the central card, showing the heart of the matter, was titled, “The Oracle.” How suitable is that?! At its core, this central card tells me that LXXXI is about doing readings and enhancing one’s oracular abilities through the deck.
The east position matches the attributes of air, and holds The Elder. I immediately interpreted this as Ms. McCarthy herself. (I hope she doesn’t mind being thought of as an elder!) This shows both the impetus behind this deck, as well as both the thinking and the words of wisdom that have gone into its creation. This is the voice of experience in conceptualizing, determining titles, writing the book, communicating about the deck and so on. It seems very appropriate.
The south position is that of elemental fire, and here we see The Leader. This is a deck that can take us into the future, but it struck me that he is facing left, which makes me think the future is not abandoning the lessons of the past. This deck channeled a creative energy that wants to bring its audience into new ways of using a divination tool such as LXXXI.
The west position matches elemental water, and the card is Mother Earth. (The X after the title is something I may write about in a future post.) A watering, or nurturing, of our planet Gaia? Given the service-oriented nature of the magician that this deck was created for, that really makes sense. It is showing that there is an energy that wants to be tender towards Mother Earth, and respectful of her.
The final position of north is earth, and in this spread shows The Male Warrior. This card shows a forceful energy or type of person; one that can be problematic left unchecked, but also one that is sometimes necessary. It’s an interesting opposition to The Leader below. In this position, which in terms of time is also things that are done and gone, it makes me think that the deck is not aligned with the men that perhaps drove much of the magical scene of the 80s and 90s. That forceful masculine nature is not needed in this deck. It also tells me that work is needed to achieve something concrete; so this deck isn’t going to unlock itself.
Overall, these cards match what I’d expect from what I know of the creators, in terms of the energy behind LXXXI The Magician’s Deck. The deck is artistically solid and conceptually sound. The deck can be bought with a book, which is also freely downloadable in PDF form for those who need to save a little money. I definitely recommend the book. I hope this sample reading conveys a little of the flavor of this deck, and I’m sure I’ll be posting about it more in future.
Do you have LXXXI? Does it feel weird to you? Are you down with Roman numerals? Let me know in the comments!