The Tao Oracle – Deck Interview and Mini Review

I recently received the stunning Tao Oracle by Ma Deva Padma, the same artist who illustrated the Osho Zen Tarot. I can’t reliably receive post where I live so people coming to visit is usually better than Christmas for me. My dad recently arrived with a modest stash of my purchases (two decks and two books) and my mum, the primary deck mule, bless her heart, will be arriving in a week. A number of these goodies I have been waiting for almost a year to receive, so I’m very exited….and of course it is lovely to catch up with close family too!


I tried my hand at I Ching when I was in my early teens, but with one very coldly translated Book of Changes, I didn’t get very far with the coins. When I saw these cards I just knew that I had to have them, no hesitation whatsoever. The good thing about having few opportunities to get my hands on new decks is that it forces me to be very discerning about what would truly add something to my deck collection. The artwork in these cards is stunning, and the reviews I have read on this deck by traditional I Ching practitioners confirms that it remains pretty true to the original meanings ascribed to each hexagram.


The Tao philosophy is something I am unschooled in but very keen to learn about, both in itself and in its considerable contribution to the growth of the Zen branch of Buddhism. One of the reasons Buddhism so successfully disseminated throughout China was the number of similar philosophies it shared with the nation’s existing Taoist approach to life. These points of commonality are illustrated in the deck, with a number of cards containing images of Buddha and Buddhist monks. Two other cards also seem to draw from Tara and Guan Shi Yin, which made me so happy on flicking through!


I’ve only done a few one-card draws so far but am already enjoying this deck. One of the Three Treasures of Taoist principles is ‘effortlessness’, and working with it certainly feels as such. The energy is calm and quiet and the messages are insightful yet simple. I’ve found the keywords helpful while not being intrusive on my intuitive reactions. Together with the book, the keywords provide plenty of meanings on each card and it is entirely up to the reader as to if they would like to use it as a straight-up oracle deck or delve deeper into the I Ching using it in conjunction with coins. I also think these cards are flexible enough to be used in spreads, single daily draws and/or focus points for meditation.

Card stock is little thin, although I do love how easy it is shuffle, and they have a lovely velvety matte finish. There doesn’t seem to be the buzz around this deck that many others inspire, but it feels much like the turtle in the story of the turtle and the hare – slow and steady wins the race. With a basis in such an ancient philosophy and charming artwork, it certainly feels like it can withstand the tests of time; and although its following seems fairly small, it also seems very loyal. The deck is already 15 years old, yet it easily stands next to any deck released today.

While my youngest was having a nap I decided to pull them out for a quick play and impromptu deck interview. I used some of the usual questions as well as adding a few of my own off the top of my head.


What is the quintessential message of his deck?

62 – Lightning over Mountain – Small is Beautiful

I love this. No complicated esoterics here, just the light simplicity and deep insight of the essence of the Tao: stillness, tranquillity, harmony and appreciation for the perfect beauty of nature. The core message of this deck is to bring everything into balance, to practice discipline, flexibility, vitality, acceptance and dignity in all areas of life.

What is the next best step on my spiritual path?

29 – Water over Water – The Abysmal

One of the reasons I was drawn to this deck, aside from the beautiful art and the opportunity to learn more about Tao, is that is has a good representational balance of the light and shadow aspects of human experience. I see this card as saying that the next best step on my spiritual path is to explore my shadow realms and confront my fears. Considering the work I have recently begun in cultivating an acceptance of mortality, the appearance of this card is incredibly timely. I also see it saying that I need to loosen the grip on my perceived control; there is, more than not, things in life far outside of my sphere of influence. I need to learn the lesson of Tao, to flow with all experiences of life and not get trapped, struggling under the pounding deluge of that waterfall,

How can we take that next step together?

15 – Earth over Mountain – Modesty

Maintaining grace while swimming in dark waters. We can take that step together by keeping it simple, nothing elaborate, just steady and consistent work together. This isn’t a binge deck, where you use it and nothing else for a month then, spent and exhausted, put it away in the cupboard only occasionally to be used again. If I can respect its gentleness, sincerity and modest power I can better cultivate those qualities in myself.

What is the potential outcome of our relationship?

51 – Lightning over Lightning – The Arousing

Such Tower-like energy here and the keywords really do say it all: “a shake-up that’s a wake up”…exactly what I’m looking for! A bit scary as I have no idea where my path as it is will take me, but I am certainly in need of some “dramatic power shifts” to start living a more in-tune and harmonious life.

Potential obstacles/ shadow?

16 – Lightning over Earth – Enthusiasm

This was actually the first card I drew from this deck, so it’s interesting to see it pop up again here, it’s like it’s telling me “you’re all enthusiastic about it now, but how quickly will that fade?”. This isn’t the most pow-in-your-face deck, so the main obstacle I see is in me passing it over for more ‘exciting’ decks. I must maintain my current enthusiasm for the deck and keep working with it consistently in order to achieve our best potential.


I am so pleased that I got this deck, its feel is kind of hard to describe, it’s just a very still, centred, grounded, calm and tranquil deck to behold; soft without being ‘fluffy’, optimistic without glossing over the darker aspects of life, and infused with a gentle wisdom I would do well to heed.





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