January/February 2016 Issue
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Sibilla Oracle Cards Review
This article was written by Donald Michael Kraig, Certified Tarot Grandmaster on May 12, 2009
Sibilla Oracle Cards Review
A wonderful deck of 52 cards that have both images and meanings on the card. That makes this deck perfect for beginners looking to enhance both their intuition (expanding on the obvious meanings) and for pros seeking an alternative to their regular decks. Not a RWS standard Tarot, but easy to carry and lots of fun.
The Sibilla Oracle Cards may not interest some of you because itís not a standard Tarot. If so, youíre going to be missing out on a great combination. Before I explain what I mean by that, letís look at the cards themselves.
This deck of cards is smaller in size than most Tarot decks. Itís less thick because it has only 52 cards, like a pack of playing cards, and the dimensions of each card are those of a card for playing bridge. That makes this deck much easier to carry around than any deck other than the postage stamp size decks that some may consider too small for practical use.
Like a deck of playing card, this oracle is divided into four suits, diamonds, clubs, hearts and spades, each with ten pip cards and three court cards. If youíre bored, you could play solitaire with this deck.
There are two major differences between this deck and regular playing cards. First, every card has a pictorial image. The style appears to be 18th century line drawings overpainted with very intense watercolors so that the lines show through. Most of us are familiar with the pale pastel watercolors of our youth, but these colors feature deep earth tones of green, brown, orange, and surprisingly bright and rich red. The backgrounds are washes of pale yellow. There are no blues to be found. The upper left corner gives an image of the matching standard playing card.
The second difference is that each card has a name or title which can be used for divination. What appears to be the original is in French while there are translations around the edge into other languages. English is in the lower left.
So the ace of hearts is the "Sweet Card," the 3 of diamonds is "The Consultant," the 7 of clubs indicates "Some Money," and the 10 of spades indicates "Infantilism." Unfortunately, this is a bit of a problem with the cards, as the translations are not always accurate. For the last card, the French is "Chagrin, larmes," which means "sorrow, tears." However, as it says in the Little White Booklet (LWB), "To use the Sibilla Oracle Cards one must concetrate on two basic aspects: the image and the written comment." The image shows a child crying, supporting herself on a chair. At her feat appears to be a (perhaps her own?) dead dog. Thus, the meaning is clearly sorrow and tears, but it is also the tears of a child. This child doesnít understand that all living things, sooner or later, must die. She doesnít know why her beloved dog is gone. So I would interpret this card not as "infantilism," but as the tears and sorrow caused by a naÔve lack of understanding of the world. Itís both beautiful and sad in its simplicity and purity. Oh, if only our loved ones didnít have to leave us!
There are other cards that have obvious mistranslations. Therefore, I would suggest that you spend a bit of time with a dictionary that translates words from one language to another. I used a program that came with my computer to do this. As you translate the original French, look at the images on the cards. Together, the image and the original text give the full meaning of the card. I would contend this is a must as both the 3 of hearts and 3 of diamonds are called "The consultant." However, the actual translation for the of hearts is "The woman who works with the cards," and for the diamonds it is "The man who works with the cards." The former shows a woman and the later a man. So it is clear that the cards are talking about advice from either a male (or perhaps a woman with archetypal male characteristics) or a female (or perhaps a man with archetypal female characteristics).
As you can see, it is easy to come up with meanings for the cards just from the brief descriptions and images on the cards. That means the LWB, which only has 7 English pages, doesnít have to focus on this aspect. Instead, it gives some really great information necessary for reading any type of divinatory deck. For example youíre told that there are only three things needed to use the cards: Knowledge of the images and meanings, Intuition ("the ability to perceive what is not obvious and to follow oneís instinct and the unconscious"), and the Ability to Relate with whomever is asking the question.
The LWB includes just one reading, and itís great. It uses 8 cards. You lay out four in a square patter, and then the client lays out four on top of them. The piles of two cards represent money and business, health or chance encounters, work and profession, or love. The cards put out by the client represent the present while the ones you put out represent the future. There is a special situation where, if both cards in a pile are of the same particular suit, you draw an additional card for more information.
This is really a great spread, and it can easily be converted to working with just the Minor Arcana of a Tarot deck (often these cards are overlooked). The ideas of this reading alone are worth getting this deck.
However, the real benefit of this deck is for new people wondering if theyíd make good Tarot readers. The images on the cards are very clear. The original French is also clear in meaning. What this deck does is allow a new reader to focus on using their intuition to expand on the image and meaning of the card. The drawings seem like they came out of a childís story book from a century or more ago, immediately bringing out the storyteller in us all. With the image and meaning right on the card you donít have to focus on memorizing multiple meanings of 78 cards.
In short, this is the ideal deck for beginners. Itís a perfect training deck. Itís fun to use, too. Iíve found itís great for "cooperative readings" (where the client and reader work together to interpret the cards). It makes a great alternative to the Tarot, is unique, antique looking, and easy to carry. No, itís not for everyone, but is recommended for those who are beginners and for pros looking for an alternative to their regular repertoire.
Name of deck: Sibilla Oracle Cards
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creatorís name: Antonio Lupatelli
Brief biography of creator(s): A popular artist of illustrations childrenís books and cartoons in the 1960s and 1970s, he started creating Tarot decks in the 1980s.
Name of accompanying booklet: Sibilla Oracle Cards
Number of pages of booklet: 32 (7 in English)
Author(s) of book/booklet:
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Reading Uses: General Readings; Learning how to use divination cards.
Artistic Style: French 18th century folk art
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Divination deck.
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: No
If Divination Deck, what is the structure? Like a deck of playing cards with four traditional suits and three court cards per suit. Each card has an illustration and a title giving the meaning of the card.
Why was deck created?: A traditional deck used for divination and card games.
Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck: Tarot for Beginners by P. Scott Hollander; Tarot Kit for Beginners by Janet Berres
Alternative decks you might like: Every Day Oracle; Marseille Oracle Cards; Dream Cards
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