First Impressions & Deck Interview: The Isis Oracle by Alana Fairchild and Jimmy Manton – the bones made me do it!

It’s taken me a long time to jump on the Alana Fairchild bandwagon and had you asked me a year ago if I would ever own one of her decks my answer would have probably been a pretty snarky ‘no’. I’ve always loved the artists she is teamed up with, particularly for the Kuan Yin and Sacred Rebel oracles, but whenever I read any samples of her guidebook my eyes would roll…hard.

isis box setYou see, I don’t believe in a Divine Plan, or that the universe loves me unconditionally. I find the universe pretty ambivalent and see chaos everywhere. This idea that “everything happens for a reason” takes me beyond eye rolling into ragey territory because it seems like the sheltered worldview of someone who has benefitted from a number of geographic, ethnic, racial and class privileges. With the people of this world being attacked with chemical weapons, bombed, starved, oppressed, abused and trafficked, it is hard for me to see some grand scheme and work, and if it is, it’s a shitty one I don’t particularly wish to “surrender” to.

So, why the hell am I now sitting here with a brand spanking new Alana Fairchild deck? Well the weirdest yet most honest answer is this: the bones made me do it. I’ve been working on incorporating the skull I found into my meditation and divination practices, both as a memento mori to help me deal with my phobia of death, and as a tangible link to nature and animal spirits. After meditating a few times with the skull I asked it which deck it would like to work with. The Wild Unknown tarot and Animal Spirit Oracle seem like the most obvious fit for the divination aspect, and they have worked well together so far, but I felt I needed something more, a bit deeper and focused specifically on personal spiritual development.

Continue reading “First Impressions & Deck Interview: The Isis Oracle by Alana Fairchild and Jimmy Manton – the bones made me do it!”


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!

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Mary El Tarot Interview

This deck. THIS deck, people! It is just amazing. Prepare for some serious gushing because I love the Mary El so much. I’ve had it for about six months now and wouldn’t part with it for love nor money, it is my zombie apocalypse deck. If the shit hit the fan and I could only take one deck with me, this would be it, the imagery is just so evocative and visceral. You will probably tire of reading this word, and I will try not to repeat it too much, but the best way I can find to describe it is raw; it is a burning torch thrust into your sub-conscious and unconscious mind, it slices through every façade you’ve built up and leaves you bare, warts and all. Throw your keywords and tarot books away because this deck is primal, it doesn’t speak in words, it hits you right in the gut with raw emotion.

On that note, I must add that while I connected instantly with the imagery of this deck, I can have a hard time connecting with it as a tarot deck. It isn’t RWS, Thoth or Marseille, you will often find that the guidebook meanings do not have any relation to the established systems and you will rarely see imagery that is familiar; it is in a class of its own. Tacking established meanings onto the cards will, in many instances, leave a huge disconnect with the imagery (this is more true for the Minor Arcana than the Majors), so it can be pretty daunting at first, and you do have to put the work in. For this reason, I find it easier to read with if I just put aside tarot traditions and think of it as a kind of oracle deck. Take a few keywords or concepts from the guidebook then stare into those cards and let your intuition do the rest.

Speaking of the guidebook, I do find it a bit bananas in places, there’s quite a bit of repetition (seriously, if I have to read Magnum Opus one more time) and it feels a bit rushed and hap hazard. There is much mention of Western Esoteric Kabbalah, which I am not really familiar with, so perhaps her deck is intended to be closer to the various meanings of the Sephiroth and their paths in the Tree of Life than any specific tarot system (?). I don’t know if Marie White channelled these messages or was just a bit frenzied with excitement when she wrote them, but an editor would not have gone amiss. This is a very minor quibble though and is of no detriment at all to the deck.

I’ve seen a lot of pictures on the internet where people have removed all the borders and titles from the cards so the images can stand alone, and I can certainly see why; on a number of occasions I’ve felt that the titles just get in the way because I know what I think the card should mean, but I am not looking at a visual representation that supports it, I’m looking at something else entirely. I’m not quite ready to put the cards to the guillotine and corner cutters yet, but I could see myself doing so in future.

As you will see, I got a bit carried away with the interview, these babies are addictive, so I added a few more questions to my regular interview just so I could keep talking to these cards!mary el

Tell me about yourself, what is your most important characteristic? 

Seven of Wands – Just look at those sharp green eyes penetrating the soul of human kind. Here I see a steadfast spirit. This wolf knows what she has to say, and knows its truth. She has the courage of her convictions and does not fear confrontation. This deck isn’t here to make friends, its message is a dare to bravely go against the grain and fight, fight with all your strength for your soul and never give up.

What are your strengths as a deck?

Ace of Wands – The burning, the movement, the power! This deck is raw creative inspiration manifest. It is fire and passion and talent, it does not whisper its message, it roars. It is bold and fierce in its dispatch.

What are your limits as a deck?

Six of Swords – On of my favourites! Could you tell? This deck is about inner journeying, shamanism and spiritual transformation. It doesn’t even speak the language of the mundane, it goes deep and for every answer this deck delivers it poses ten questions more, so it is probably best to leave it be for ‘everyday’ questions. This is angelic guidance we’re looking at here so be prepared to dig deep if you want to speak to Mary El.

What are you here to teach me?

Strength – This deck is here to teach me to integrate all sides of my nature, human, beast, divine, base, hunter and prey. It will help me to learn to trust my inner strength and love the wildness in my heart – my beast and I will tame each other with compassion and courage, and learn the gift of intentional stillness.

How can I best learn and collaborate with you?

Ten of Wands – I can best collaborate with this deck by approaching it with a ready and seeking heart. No dullness here, no phoning it in, I must have energy, time, and a burning curiosity and conviction when I approach it. Reading with this deck is not going to be like chatting with a friend over a cup of tea, it is going to be an adventure chocked full of highs, lows, victories and obstacles to overcome.

What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

The Empress – The potential outcome I see here is my reconnection to the mother goddess, to the earth and all her bounties – a fecund mind, a fertile heart and a tender touch; an understanding of life’s innate cycles and realising my place within in them.

And my additional questions:

 Which Major Arcana cards best represent your core message?

The Lovers and The Emperor – These cards tell me that the Mary El’s core message is the reconciliation of duality and the stabilisation of a seemingly chaotic existence with a compassionate heart and a discerning mind.


And because I JUST CAN’T STOP PULLING CARDS, numerologically, Lovers + Emperor = Wheel of Fortune – within it this deck holds all of the ups and downs of life and a glimpse at the unfixed nature of fate. It says that with the completeness of love seen in the Lovers and the harmony of order found in the Emperor, the blooming lotus at the centre of the wheel can be found, ever able to rise above the muck and detritus life can throw at us.

Which Court card best represents your personality?

King of Wands – fire of fire, charismatic and enigmatic, passionate and daring. His kingdom is the pure force of will tempered by knowledge. He teaches fearlessness and an irrepressible loyalty to the self. This king’s life is one lived to the full with no shame or regrets.


Which Minor Arcana best represents where we are now?

Eight of Wands – a time of change and growth, incubating ideas under the blanket of night. The burning lion, the soul’s guide, prepares to deliver me to myself, offering the keys to my deepest soul.

Well I finally managed to put the cards down. I’ve noticed a lot of wands and lions here! So much fire, passion and spirit. With the presence of the Empress, Emperor and Lovers I’m seeing a bigger picture about unification, wholeness and integration; the soul’s desire to unite with all, inside and out.

Below I will leave you with just a few of my favourite images from the deck. Sorry about the less than stellar picture quality, my phone seems to have been in the middle of a weird focusing moment.



Mary-El Tarot by Marie White, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2012


Paulina Tarot Interview

I began my tarot journey with the now out of print Mythic Tarot, which was my only deck for several years. Then I bought a Thoth deck, which, at the time as a casual reader, was incredibly intriguing but also very intimidating with its layer upon layer of symbolism. My next deck was the Wild Unknown, and what a game-changer that was! Its imagery was so bold, yet simple, unlike anything I had seen before, the moment I laid eyes on it I knew I had to have it. After a couple more years I discovered the Paulina Tarot by Paulina Cassidy. I consider this one my ‘gateway deck’, after a decade of pretty minimal deck ownership, there was something about buying this one that gave me the collector’s bug, and now I seem to have a wish list my wallet just cannot keep up with.

Receiving a load of decks from a Christmas shopping spree was exiting and overwhelming, where do I start and how do I get to know all of these unfamiliar decks? How do I give them equal time and a fair chance to see if we connect? After googling around a bit, I discovered the idea of deck interview spreads from Little Red Tarot, and since then it has become an integral part of my getting to know new decks. So, without further ado, introducing the Paulina Tarot:

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