Tarot and Oracle Decks have exploded into the common experience since the 1990s. Today there are literally thousands of decks to choose from, including out-of-print decks and published ones. Reviewing anything involves subjective judgment based on various criteria: quality and size of the cards, visual accessibility of the art, quality of the companion text of the deck, and potential usefulness in professional practice. This month I have chosen to review the Messenger Oracle by Rayvnne Phelan.
The Messenger Oracle
The Messenger Oracle was published in 2012 by US Games Systems and later by Blue Angle Publishing (2015). This deck does come with a companion book. The deck can be purchased new on Amazon or through resellers like Ebay and Alibris.
From the back of the box:
[The] Messenger Oracle strengthens our ancient bond with nature and spirit. These cards are infused with the magic of ancient dragons, elemental fae, mystical trees, and their wild animal kin – they are ‘the messengers’ who are here to guide us back to our true nature and power and to help us reconnect with and express our inner-most truth.
The card stock is very good, and the cards will last a long time even with continued and regular use. Cards are longer and wider than playing cards, but essentially the same shape. Even though they are larger than playing cards, they are still easy to shuffle (size-wise). Because the card stock is fairly dense, shuffling when they are first out of the box is difficult, but reuse regularly helps make it easier to shuffle them.
I have rather average to small hands (I cannot palm a basketball), so the size of a deck of cards matters when it comes to shuffling them, especially in front of clients. This deck is more rectangular than square, with rounded edges, and very high print quality, so the images really pop! And they are quite stunning; Phelan is a wonderful artist.
The Messenger Oracle is a useful deck for professional readings, and an excellent deck for public readings; the artwork and the concepts for the cards catch your attention immediately. Essentially anyone living in modern, western society (US, Canada, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and so on) would find the mythology and imagery familiar.
This deck is one of the top twenty decks I bring with me to use in my public reading rotation and clients really appreciate and enjoy the easy to understand artwork. This deck does use key phrases to further explain the meaning of the card (besides the image), which you can see on the cards above. It is worthwhile to take time with each card and appreciate the detail and passion in the artwork.
Visual Accessibility of the Deck
This deck is definitely visually accessible, which shows in the artist’s choice of images for the themes described in the cards. In the cards below, number 21, Know your Power, nicely combines the image of a horse with the element of fire to convey the sense of power associated with the animal, physically and spiritually.
Number 38, See the Signs, cleverly includes a wide range of signs in the tree, but also in the animal figures. Astrology and the elements are on the tree, and the Lion and Wolf are archetypes for strength and power, while the dove is a symbol of peace, and the butterfly one of transformation.
Finally, number 13, See Yourself in Nature, shows a satyr, one of the most common archetypes for the man-in-nature theme of the card. His home is the forest, as it once was for many of our ancestors. Returning to nature, be it a forest, the ocean, or a desert is a worthwhile activity for all of us from time-to-time.
Explanation of the Cards
This deck comes with a very nice companion book that is as well designed and easy to use. Each card appears on an individual page with a paragraph below the image explaining the meaning of the card. The front part of the booklet gives you instructions on how to connect with and use the cards. At the end is a page about the author/artist.
As a professional reader who started reading cards for pay in 1992, I can say that this deck is excellent for all clients and public settings. There is partial, but tasteful nudity on one card (a naked fairy woman who is pregnant on card 10, Embrace the Feminine), but it is certainly not intended to be “sensual” or “erotic”, visually speaking. Professionally, this deck is more visually accessible than most decks, and would actually make a good starting deck for someone interested in learning to read cards.
I will give this deck a high rating. Clients who have worked with this deck have found it helpful and transformative. Clients also appreciate the name of the deck, because they usually sit down seeking a message. Easy to handle, with modern concepts and stunning artwork, this deck is a very positive overall product that is an excellent addition to the genre.