Friday 2 August 2019

Review: The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts

I'm really delighted to have got an early copy of The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts by Caitlín Matthews. It is officially published next week, but my set turned up a couple of days ago. I've been using it every day and I like it a lot, because it has a strong theme with lovely artwork and an original system that works very well.

At first glance, the cards are not entirely different from a tarot deck in that you have something like major arcana and minor arcana. They are split into two groups: the clans, which are a bit like suits, consisting of truth, honour, sovereignty and wisdom; and the divine ancestors, which are more like deities. However, you don't really use The Ancestral Oracle of the Celts like tarot.

Of course you can simply draw a card and look up its meaning, or do a traditional spread, but the two types of card are intended to be used in slightly different ways. The divine ancestor cards offer questions to help you look deeper into issues that affect you, while the clan cards offer insights into the answers. A basic reading involves drawing two cards - one of each type. You look at the divine ancestor first, then the clan card. Other spreads are inspired by Celtic triads; consulting sets of ancestors; and the wheel of the year.

The images for the divine ancestors are inspired by the wonderful Gundestrup cauldron, which is perfect for a deck with a Celtic theme. The images for the clans are inspired by Celtic myths and legends. I really like the artwork, which is stylised but full of symbolism. I'm an intuitive reader - rather than simply wanting to learn what the cards mean using the book - and so having artwork with a good depth of symbolism is important to me.

As an added bonus, as well as being a divination deck, the cards are designed to be usable for family constellation work. The idea behind family constellations is that people's present-day problems can be influenced by issues and traumas suffered in previous generations. These can be worked through using people - or in this case cards - to represent yourself, your family and your ancestors. You then talk to the representative as though they are the relative to try to see all sides of the situation. This can help you feel a greater sense of belonging to your family and help resolve old issues.

I took part in a family constellation for a friend a few years ago and found it to be a very powerful experience. I've not yet tried it for myself with these cards, but I look forward to doing so. You don't need to have actual Celtic ancestors in order to use the cards - they are intended more as archetypes.

The deck comes with an 88-page book and is in a sturdy box. The instructions on how to use the cards and their meanings are clear and concise. Overall, this is an original and versatile oracle set with lovely artwork and theme that is likely to have wide appeal.

You can view the Ancestral Oracle of the Celts on Amazon It is published by Watkins.

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