I’ve been pondering the subject of oracle decks produced by Doreen Virtue for some time now, but haven’t felt motivated to write what amounts to a defense for their existence and usage. Among the self-proclaimed tarot cognoscenti, Doreen’s decks are anathema to their hard-won, occult (meaning hidden) knowledge. My opinion is that those endless criticisms of her work tend to be less from firsthand experience, and more from the group-think that pervades the online tarot community.

Image by Steve A. Roberts that became Empress; click to visit artist's gallery page

Priestess of the Woods, used as The Empress. (c) Steve A. Roberts. Click image for artist’s gallery store page.

Having been a tarot snob myself in the past, I know exactly where most of those criticisms are coming from. I also think most of them are from people who haven’t touched a Virtue oracle deck, let alone given one a chance. I would like to share some opinions on working with a couple of these decks. Can they be hard-hitting, or are they the fluffy marshmallows that the tarot community claims?

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Earlier this week, I made my regular pilgrimage to the used bookstore, where I always hope to find some new and perhaps obscure deck of cards. Yeah, I can’t help it, I’m wired that way. I found a new deck; not necessarily obscure, but certainly outside of my “zone:” The Lakota Sweat Lodge Cards: Spiritual Teachings of the Sioux, by Chief Archie Fire Lame Deer with artist Helene Sarkis.

lokota_cards

I’m not normally drawn to Native American themed decks or spiritual trappings. Aside from the every-present risk of made-up New Age teachings and an awareness of inappropriate cultural appropriation, that is just not something that’s ever called to me. However, when I saw this box on the shelf, the cover caught me and after looking through the cards in the store, I found them appealing enough to purchase. I liked the bold art style, the predominance of earthy tones, and that the deck depicted a lot of animals and nature without relying on people.

I have no idea if the source of these cards is legit, in terms of presenting authentic teachings. They seem earnest and respectful; and I haven’t seen anything negative online yet. Only one review at amazon.com was negative, seemingly on general principle, which was encouraging. In any case, my interest was the possibility of reading these as an oracle deck on my own terms, with any education they may provide as a bonus.

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This past weekend, our winery group had our first outing of the season. The weather was refreshingly cool. In fact, a little too cool, as we quickly migrated from a picnic table outdoors to an inside table. Others must have felt the same because before long, the inside was packed.

My readings have become a popular part of the winery events. So, what decks (or other reading tools) to take, and what format to use?

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Isn’t it funny how our tastes can change over time? We start our card reading explorations drawn to certain types of decks. We may start with a Waite-Smith tarot, and find comfort in decks following that same pattern, or which are also illustrated such as the Robin Wood or Hanson-Roberts. After some time we may wake up and decide we prefer more realistic artwork. 

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Waite-Smith 8 of Pentacles

 Or we find the Marseilles pattern to be “dullsville,” and some years later enjoy sinking our teeth into this classic pip pattern and it’s suddenly “coolsville.” Our interest in occult tarot decks like the Golden Dawn and Thoth may wax; our interest in making associations to kabbalah, astrology or i-ching may wane.

tarot-jumble

Thoth Tarot

The tarot audience was psychologically focused in the mainstream for some years, I think, coming out of the classic books in the 1970s. Now tastes have changed and predictive models and styles of reading cards are becoming acceptable again.

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I got the Celtic Lenormand oracle deck today. I had been on the fence about this one for a while, while seeing it in-progress at the creator’s blog. I’m not a big fan of the myriad of themed and art-heavy Lenormand decks; but I’m not immune to any new deck that I find attractive, readable and resonant with my personal interests or taste. The Celtic Lenormand does target that area for me, with its Celtic theme and art by Will Worthington (whose illustrations of the Wildwood Tarot read particularly well for me).

CelticLenormandFirstReading

Ring – Clouds – Book – Dog – Snake

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It’s a snow-filled Valentine’s Day, so it’s time for a relationship reading. A deck relationship, that is! My other half is at work for the afternoon, so I spent some time getting to know my recently purchased The Faeries’ Oracle. The artist is Brian Froud, and the excellent companion book is authored by Jessica MacBeth. (Coincidentally, last night we watched The Dark Crystalan 80’s movie whose look was conceptualized by Brian Froud.)

I asked: “How can I best work with this oracle?”

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The Master Maker — Honesty — Death
(click for larger image)

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Today was my first reading to test drive my new Card Deck of the Sidhe. As I am not familiar with these oracle cards, I decided a two-card reading would be appropriate. Besides sharing this short reading, I will talk about my initial impressions of this oracle deck meant to connect with the “people of peace.”

I wanted to know: What would the outcome be for me, if I had a particular discussion at work today?

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I haven’t had good luck with some recent mail deliveries of orders from amazon.com. Even with Amazon Prime, which guarantees (free) two-day delivery, I’ve had trouble getting my items on time. I won’t bore you with the details. So while expecting a delivery today, I consulted the Lenormand: Will my package arrive today?

jan26-package-arrive-todayMice – Letter – Stork

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Time to continue the gridding of a card. In my previous post, I started exploring this technique for reading a single card using an imaginary grid to provide a timeline. I used the Gods and Titans Oracle cards, and drew the card depicting Helios in answer to my question: Show me what I need to focus on at work this upcoming week.

Helios

I read a basic overview of the situation based on where the main figure of Helios fell within the grid. Please go back to Part 1 if you missed it. Otherwise let’s continue.

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Grid — or even gird — your loins, fellow card readers! Here’s a technique for wringing information out of a single card. It’s based on an imaginary grid overlaying a single card, and reading parts of the card in the context of that grid. This isn’t new, but I don’t think it’s commonly explored; and it’s not something I’ve tried before.

I used the Gods and Titans Oracle cards. The author and primary force in creating was Stacey Demarco. However, I must give props to Jimmy Manton’s artwork. (The more recent Isis Oracle that he illustrated has truly drool-worthy art, although it didn’t work for me as a reading deck.)

My question: Show me what I need to focus on at work this upcoming week. I decided in advance that I would draw the tenth card, as if I were looking at the final outcome in a tree of life spread. Even if one doesn’t wish to use that spread, I like the extra factor of randomization that I feel is added by not just taking the top card. Question and method established, I shuffled the cards with focus and intent — those favorite keywords of mine! —and dealt the 10th card, Helios, titan of the sun. (Click image for a larger view.)

Helios

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