The Fallen Angel Oracle Cards,just released by Cico Books, is one of the most unusual divination sets I've seen in a long time.
I was sent a preview copy last week, just before it came out, and I've been using it every day since I got it - not only because I was supposed to be reviewing it for A Bad Witch's Blog but also because I'm finding the set fascinating.
The Fallen Angel set isn't like a traditional Tarot deck. It doesn't have the traditional major and minor arcana for a start. Instead, the cards show images of 72 numbered fallen angels - angels who, according to legend, have fallen from grace or been banished from Heaven for various reasons. In some cases, in Christian mythology, their fall was because they refused to bow before Adam and accept him as a superior being, others became Earth-bound because they fell in love with beautiful mortal women and took them as wives. There are also angels who fell to Earth during the war between Lucifer and the other archangels.
The Fallen Angel booklet includes a brief history of the origin of the angels represented in the pack plus instructions on how to lay out the cards as well as the meanings of each of the 72 cards.
Examples include Zepar, an angel who takes the form of a handsome warrior and inspires women to fall passionately in love, often leading to heartbreak; Bileth, a powerful and unruly angel whose appearance signals an impending storm or tumultuous upheaval in human affairs; Foras, an angel that appears as a strong, wise man who can show you how to achieve ambitions through persuasion and quiet, eloquent diplomacy and Shax whose appearance can warn you to protect your wealth.
You might think it rather odd that a pagan like myself would be interested in a deck of divination cards clearly inspired by Christian mythology - but I find mythology from all cultures fascinating. I think one can work with archetypes from any tradition without needing to be a signed up member of the associated religion.
I'd certainly never worked with fallen angels before, and knew little about them before reading the book that came with the Fallen Angel set, but I found the archetypes extremely good for fortune telling. Part of the reason for this is that the meanings given show the risks and dangers inherent in a situation as well as offering help for the way forward.
Many modern oracle sets don't do this - instead giving fluffy messages about happy futures without any "scary" cards. But life is never that easy. There are always potential challenges. A deck that shows this, while also giving advice on overcoming or avoiding problems, is of more practical use than one that pretends everything is going to be lovely.
And, even though the cards don't look like a traditional Tarot deck, you can still use traditional Tarot layouts when reading them - or just choose a card from the deck at random for daily insight.
Nigel Suckling, creator of the Fallen Angel Oracle Cardshas also created the Dragon Tarotby Cico Books and is the author of several books on mythology includingThe Angel Companion,The Book of the Vampire,Werewolvesand Faeries of the Celtic Lands.
About his inspiration for the Fallen Angel cards, Nigel Suckling says on his website: "The angels themselves are drawn from Johann Weyer's famous list of fallen angels in Pseudomonarchia Daemonumdating from the sixteenth century, though based on much earlier sources. Some of them are indeed mischievous trouble-makers, but most are far from being the 'demons' of popular imagination, being more like pagan deities. Their varied characters suit them perfectly for fortune telling in the Tarot manner."
You can read a full interview with Nigel Suckling on A Bad Witch's Blog today, and read about the cards' artwork, by Sarah Perkins, here: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2011/02/preview-fallen-angel-oracle-cards.html.
Fallen Angels Oracle Cards (book & card set)
Book of the Vampire
The Angel Companion
Pseudomonarchia Daemonum (1563)