Playing Card Oracles
Author: Ana Cortez, C.J. Freeman
Artist: C.J. Freeman
U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
By their numbers, suits, and pictures,
The cards communicate
And begin to tell their story
Each time we shuffle fate.
The “Playing Card Oracles” is a 52 card deck, with three additional cards: an information card that presents the companion book to this deck (“The Playing Card Oracles: A Source Book For Divination”), a card giving the background on author Ana Cortez and illustrator C.J. Freeman, and a card discussing the tie between playing cards and the mysteries of the ancient oracles. The deck is accompanied by a 26 page LWB (Little White Book).
The introduction starts out with the thought that the construction of a playing card deck is not haphazard at all … that it contains a clearly thought out intention, and a purpose far greater than ordinary gaming. Connection is made between the 52 cards in the deck, and the structure of 52 weeks in a year. According to the introduction, playing cards are a perfect reflection of a Fixed Lunar Calendar. Within the structure of such a calendar, we can chart events that have not yet happened. The playing cards in this deck feature unique artwork that is meant to help the reader discover the secret wisdom of the ancient oracles.
The suits are associated with the elements: Diamonds/Fire, Clubs/Air, Hearts/Water, Spades/Earth. Key concepts are also included for each suit: Diamonds – prosperity, creativity, self-confidence, transformation, spiritual growth; Clubs – ideas, thinking, dreams, communication, detachment; Hearts – emotions (love, passion, hate, fear, etc.), sympathy, healing, the subconscious; Spades – labor, career, housing, the physical body, discipline, responsibility.
In the prelude to the card presentation, Cortez notes that the explanations for each card are only meant as clues. It is suggested that the reader let the images, colors, and total impression of the cards inspire the reader’s interpretation of the reading.
Each card is listed, with text interpretation only (no image). For example: the Ace of Diamonds (Ignita) reads: “The gifts waiting here include the creative ability to will our dreams into reality as well as attract money and resources. The Five of Spades (The Circle of Crows) reads: Encircled by the haunting crows, the way out from fear and frustration is unclear.
The basic template for spreads with this deck uses a four card foundation. Spreads presented include the Present Spread and the Cat Spread. The definitions for the card positions include associations with the elements and with parts of the body: Diamonds/Fire/the Head, Clubs/Air/the Throat, Hearts/Water/the Torso, Spades/Earth/The Feet.
At the back of the book there are several blank pages to use for note-taking.
It was noted in the introduction that this system is entirely unique from regular playing cards, and from the Tarot. It is stand-alone … there is no comparison. This deck is best used in conjunction with its companion book.
The cards are 2 ½” by 3 ½’, on glossy card stock. The backs show a ¼” cream border, followed by a double black inner border, followed by a second ¼” cream border. The center image shows sworls and symbols in black and cream. Technically, the backs are not reversible, but in reality they are, due to the nature of the imagery.
The card faces have a cream colored background, with the icon for the suit in one corner, and the title and number on the court cards. The pips (numbered cards) show a simple image in the background, with icons over the image. The court cards show a simple figure, along with an accompanying animal.
The Queen of Spades (Morgana), carries the number 12. She is shown in profile, body facing the left hand side of the card, but looking out at the reader.
The Six of Diamonds shows three rows of two Diamond icons, over a gray background with a castle towards the back of the card.
The Queen of Clubs (Leah) is shown in profile, facing the right hand side of the card and looking to the right. In the background is a cream colored moon, with a black bird flying in front of it.
I find this an interesting system to work with, and the cards themselves fascinating. (Cortez gets points for not putting a border on the cards!). I do feel that it is best to use this deck along with its companion book (see my review of the book here – http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/books/playing-card-oracles/. This system could be used by all ages and backgrounds.
© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet