Monday 4 November 2013

Review: The Shaman's Oracle Cards by John Matthews

Curiosity got the better of me. I bought a set of The Shaman's Oracleas a gift for a friend, but was so intrigued about what the cards were like I couldn't resist taking off the shrinkwrap and having a look inside - and then, of course, I had to buy a second copy because I couldn't give my friend an opened set.

Was it worth it? Yes, I'd say so. The Shaman's Oracle is somewhat different than the usual pick-a-card-and-read-the-meaning oracle decks and makes a nice addition to my collection. The artwork is inspired by the cave art created by our distant ancestors. No one really knows what those ancient paintings meant or what purpose they served, but the images on them still seem to resonate with us and set us thinking.

The system for using the cards in The Shaman's Oracle is not a recreation of any ancient shamanic system, but is designed to help us tap into the primal wisdom that humans have shared down the ages. Our modern world might be very different from that of our cave-dwelling ancestors, but we all have the same physical, emotional and spiritual needs for security, love and meaning in our lives.

Like our cave-dwelling ancestors, we can use shamanic techniques to journey into the world of spirit to find answers to our questions. The way this deck helps us do that is through meditation and the symbolic images on the cards. The primary image is that of a hand, which is printed on a folded reading mat that comes with the boxed set. This represents one of the oldest pictures found on cave walls. To do a reading, the questor first meditates on the hand image and frames their question.

The cards are divided into five tribes – Spirits, Ancestors, Hunters, Dancers and Shamans – each representing a different aspect of human experience such as challenges or trials, divisions and boundaries, home and protection, transition and change, and inspiration and spirit. There are also two cards that represent the Journeyer and the Companion, to represent the querent and their spirit guide.

Cards are placed in the palm of the hand and along each of the fingers - representing the "midworld" and different paths or "caves" that lead from it. The cards are read using their meanings as described in the book that comes with the boxed set and interpreted with their place in each cave. Or you can put the book to one side and just meditate on each card to find its personal meaning for you in the situation you are in.

Publisher Watkins says on its website: "This easy-to-use handbook and card deck created by shaman, teacher and esotericist John Matthews and shamanic artist and teacher Wil Kinghan includes a deck of 52 cards, a chart showing positions to lay the cards around a human handprint and an 88-page book, Using the Shaman’s Oracle Cards: A Truth-Seeker’s Guide, which explains this powerful and insightful system of card reading linked to Paleolithic cave art. The images are not only beautiful, but they also touch on the deepest memories we possess – our subconscious archetypes that deeply influence our destiny."

I wouldn't say this is the easiest deck to use. It took me a little while to get my head around the slightly unusual system, but I felt it was worth the effort. I hope my friend likes the set they got as a gift too.

The Shaman's Oracle: Oracle Cards for Ancient Wisdom and Guidancecan be ordered through Amazon.

Links and previous related posts
The Shaman's Oracle: Oracle Cards for Ancient Wisdom and Guidance


Icy Sedgwick said...

I've often wondered about Oracle cards so this was a very useful review, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Waay cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning
this write-up plus the rest of the website is very good.