Arthur Rackham Oracle: You Had Me At Hello
I remember my heart leapt out of my throat when I first discovered this deck on the internet. I could not contain my excitement: Shakespeare, fairytales, and Victorian storybook all in one deck? HELLO!? At that precise moment, I swore an oath to acquire this deck without fail. I must own this deck if it meant the apocalypse!
And well, I'm ashamed to say that I could not honour my oath immediately because....it didn't mean the apocalypse, but it did mean paying the deck in atrocious Canadian dollars, which was a good old $80 at the time. And purchasing an indie deck in Canada is just absolutely dreadful. With the currency difference, taxes, and shipping (holy crap shipping!), buying anything internationally as a Canadian is just honestly tragic (#firstworldproblems)
But anyway, I digress. After much whining, my family (knowing how unsatiated deck lust tends to eat me alive) took pity on me and purchased it for me as an early Christmas present. And it surprisingly made its way past the dimensional rift (Canadian customs) and arrived in a timely fashion, before the Christmas postal black hole! Holy shit I'm so happy. I unboxed it with glee and I was flipping through the cards just now, and I cannot tell you how incredible this deck is! Except I am telling you this now because it's so awesome! HOLY CRAP!
I immediately caught various references to Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Nick Bottom made several appearances in his glorious donkey head throughout the deck. I recognized famous fairytale scenes: Snow White being found by the Seven Dwarves, Red Riding Hood making her way through the forest and conversing with her "grandmother" that was the Wolf in disguise. I noticed some tarot references as well. For example, the Strength card features a maiden walking amongst lions, just like the maiden in RWS's Strength. There are lots of scenes featuring the "common folk" going about in their daily lives, facing little but significant moments of insecurity, fear, shadows and doubts--very akin to tarot's minor arcana. On the introductory card attached to the main deck, it is said that the Rackham Oracle is not meant to be tarot, nor is it lenormand, though it draws inspirations from both.
Other than the images, I also love the word choices (some of which made me use the dictionary--Medrugada, which is the Spanish word for "early morning", is subtitled "Doorway to Dream-Time", a card that portrays the in-between and transitional states between the layers of consciousness, between waking and dreaming. The word Sangfroid was an interesting word; I had to really wrap my tongue around it to get a feel of it. It means "composure or coolness", and it is subtitled "Confronting the Demons" and accompanied by a scene in which a gentleman in a coat and a pale looking witch are seen as if dealing with a hoard of goblins (with one of them being the goblin king). I suppose "confronting the demons" depicts moments where you cannot openly display your vulnerability, moments that require powerful inner resolve and groundness to achieve your goal in mind.
So far, me likey.
The cards that I am immediately drawn to are, I discovered promptly, cards that resonated with my character and sense of humour. These are cards that mirrored my whimsical and playful nature and appealed to my inner trickster nature as well as my love for cute things (cats). Stability features a black cat balancing on a wooden beam, followed by the key word "Sure Footedness". Needless to say I'm in love. Anything that features a cat is automatically approved without further questioning. Quackery-Professional Incompetence is a poignant card with meticulous sense of humour that illustrated the ridiculousness and stupidity of hypocrisy. Courage-Defensive but Daring portrays a fuzzy-hair child standing at the edge of a cliff with a skinny spear, with a swarm of insects (butterflies? little fairy-like creatures? or just plain old bugs) next to her. She looks carefree but there is confidence radiating off her as if she is saying, "I don't mean any business, but don't you cross me." That stance resonates with me so well because that tends to be how I deal with the problems in my life. I'm never on the offensive because I generally don't like to expend a lot of energy confronting forces or problems unnecessarily, but when it comes to the things that really threaten my well-being and boundaries, people better back the fuck off. (P.S. I kind of messed up the picture sequence and included Devilment instead of Courage on the above picture--but as you can see it is included in the picture below!)
Other honourable mentions: Intuition-Connection to the Subconscious, Fecundity-Creative Power, Devilment-Force for Mischief (hehe), Cultlivation-Achieving Refinement, Baphomet-The One Who Sows Discord, & Coterie-Circle of Peers.
Cards That Made Me Feel
As I flipped through the cards for the first time, there were cards that tugged at my emotions deeply and gave me lots of feels. One of them in particular really provoked the despair and grief that I felt last year when my father passed away from cancer. The card is called Ending, subtitled "Our journey is over and done." On the card, a sick woman lays in bed while a man sits by the bed watching her intensely as if observing her final moments yet unable to do anything...because what's done is done. The quiet despair, numbness and silence all came rushing back to me. In spiritual literature, endings are markers of transformation and are often perceived with optimism. Death is a different ending altogether. I personally believe that a soul's journey goes beyond the the space-time of a human's lifetime, but death...the mortality of it. The abruptness and emptiness of it. It's so incredible physical and heavy and real. It really is "over and done." Another card Wonder-Shadow of the Past also triggered similar feelings regarding my father's passing, as the pharaoh looking statue sits in somber silence, withdrawing into its self and withdrawing into the night. It reminds me of grief, of the things that could-have-been but no more.
Other Honourable Mentions: Coercion-Leaving Behind reminds me of some of the toxic relationships dynamics that I was unfortunately part of in the past. Intemperance-Lack of Self-Control reminds me of the panic and anxiety that I feel, again, when my father passed. All of the cards that triggered intense feelings within me are cards that reflected my emotional reality and the issues, lessons that I am still working through...things that are heavily loaded with psychological and emotional energy.
Cards at My Home Frequency
Alright, now let's turn the corner and talk about the cards that make me feel like I am being grounded and inspired to expand--images and words that resonate with my spiritual truths and home frequency. :) Ascension-Nurtured - and Nurturing was one such card, depicting an angelic and motherly figure with butterfly wings carrying a baby on her shoulders while soaring through the landscape. Instead of the theme of nurture, it conveys an incredible sense of freedom to me. The baby or toddler on her shoulders isn't literally a baby, but perhaps an aspect of myself that I seek to free by ushering it to a vastly open sky. I also feel like this card evokes my Inner Child, and the mother is perhaps my adult self seeking to nurture and protect my Inner Child. This card has a freedom vibe, and in my head, I am hearing Aladdin's duet with Jasmine: I can show you the world, shining, shimmering and splendid.
Another card that instills me with feelings of expansion is Destiny-Change in the Wind. I notice that I resonate with cards that seek to convey possibility and potential (which coincides with the theme of The Fool card in tarot, which is the archetype out of all the major arcanas that I identify with the most.) On the card Destiny, a young woman peeks out of a tower through a hole of missing bricks. She brushes her hair as she looks towards the distance, into the future and the journey ahead of her, a totally different life, an ever-changing reality. Discovery-New Horizons also carries the same vibe: new beginnings, adventure, and excitement. Is this the same child that holds the thin spear in Courage? Perhaps. If that is the case, I like how archetypes tend to find their way towards each other.
Other Honourable Mentions: Guardianship-Protection of the Vulnerable, Connectedness-Embraced by the Natural World, Reserve-Complete Unto Oneself.
I loved it before I owned it, and now that I own it and am holding the deck in my hands--it already feels like it's a part of me. For someone whose cyber lair is Fables Den, this deck truly a soul-mate that I never knew I had. No introduction needed. Saw it, and loved it with the fullness of my heart. And this is before I even started to read with it!!! I shall be writing another post detailing the results of my ventures. A tarot reading strung with images and symbolism from fairytales, folklores, Victorian literature and Shakespeare...gah. Can a girl ask for more?