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.
Don't pass on the Sibilla Oracle Cards because it’s not a standard Tarot. If you do you’re going to be missing out on a great combination.
This deck of cards is smaller in size than most Tarot decks. It’s 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 you’re 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. These are not the pale pastel watercolors children use. 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." The included Little White Booklet (LWB) says, "To use the Sibilla Oracle Cards one must concetrate on two basic aspects: the image and the written comment," so don't limit yourself to one or the other. The image on the 10 of spades shows a child crying, supporting herself on a chair. At her feet appears to be (perhaps her own?) a dead dog. Thus, the meaning is clearly sorrow and tears, but it is also the tears of a child. This child doesn’t understand that all living things, sooner or later, must die. She doesn’t know why her beloved dog is gone. So the meaning goes beyond the written "infantilism," perhaps meaning the tears and sorrow caused by a naïve lack of understanding of the world. It’s both beautiful and sad in its simplicity and purity.
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 doesn’t have to focus on this aspect. Instead, it gives some really great information necessary for reading any type of divinatory deck. For example you’re 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 one’s instinct and the unconscious"), and the Ability to Relate with whomever is asking the question.
The LWB includes one reading, and it’s great. It uses 8 cards. You lay out four in a square pattern, 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 they’d 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 child’s story book from a century or more ago, immediately bringing out your inner storyteller. With the image and meaning right on the card you don’t have to focus on memorizing multiple meanings of 78 cards.
In short, this is the ideal deck for beginners. It’s a perfect training deck. It’s fun to use, too, and 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. Highly 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
Creator’s name: Antonio Lupatelli
Brief biography of creator: A popular artist of illustrations children’s 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)
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