The Wiccan Cards invite the user’s intuition and imagination into each quiet image. Each card is a doorway leading to worlds waiting to be explored. By going through these charming and deceptively simple portals, seekers can find answers and guidance.
Oracle decks can be great additions to one’s divinatory toolbox. However, all oracle decks are not created equal. Because they do not have a built in structure, such as Tarot decks do, they run the risk of being a random and arbitrary collection of lovely pictures. This may be too harsh a criticism as anyone can, if they set their mind to it, find an omen or message in anything. This lack of definition makes reviewing an oracle deck all the more difficult. For what does one base one’s critique on? There is no required structure; there are no clear expectations.
The question often becomes: does it perform as an oracle? A good question perhaps, but then so much depends on the skill of the reader, doesn’t it? Some readers can read the steam off your coffee while others may be, shall we say, less proficient. In addition, oracle decks require that you get to know them, to understand how they work, and to allow them to play with your intuitive and psychic methods. It is a relationship that must be built between the user and the cards??"and it can take time.
In reviewing the Wiccan Cards, we’ll consider a few specific aspects: theme and structure, imagery, instructions/interpretations provided, and how to best work with them.
The theme of the Wiccan Cards is clear: Wicca, primarily Celtic. The theme shapes the structure as well as the symbols and messages. The 33 cards are divided into five groups.
There are four element cards represented not by element but by the Wiccan tool associated with the element. The Athame for air, the Pentacle for earth, the Cup for water, and the Wand for fire. In the booklet, it is noted they relate to the directions as well: east, north, west, and south respectively. Jumping ahead to discuss imagery, there is little on the cards to indicate the elements. The Wand and The Cup show fire and water, while the Sword and the Pentacle do not show air or earth. Also, none have any indication that I can see of the direction it represents. The positive side of this lack of directional representation is that some practitioners assign different directions to the elements. However, it is a weakness in a deck that claims it can be a first introduction to the Wiccan Way of Life. An introductory deck should include visual cues to help the beginner learn??"or more detailed instructions.
There are two deity cards, one to represent the Goddess and one for the God??"Aradia and Cerunnos respectively.
Eight cards represent each of the Sabbats??"Imbolc, Ostara, Beltan, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule.
Three cards are called Master cards and represent the Otherworld, the Three Wise Ones, and the Oak Tree.
The last sixteen cards are symbol cards and include: spiral, cat, ring, mask, kettle, raven, butterfly, book of shadows, mandrake, fox, tree of life, broom, pond, chariot, mare, and Celtic harp.
The imagery is charming but lacks immediacy. Most of the cards nicely illustrate what they are supposed to. Imbolc shows a sheep and two lambs in the snow with a few early flowers blooming. It is pastoral and very sweet. It adequately illustrates how many people think of Imbolc. The kettle shows an iron kettle with a spout hanging from a chain. Liquid is inside and steam rising up. One must imagine a fire beneath it, as there isn’t one in the picture. The broom shows a picture of a broom leaning in a corner with a picture of a flowering tree on the wall behind it. They are all exactly what they say they are. But they are quiet. They are not cards that most people can pick up, shuffle, lay down and do a quick reading with. They are more of an invitation than a message. They are soft-spoken and to use them, you must approach them gently, with a calm and receptive spirit. And, I think, a solid knowledge of Wicca.
Or…I’ll say it again…a longer book. You see, I think this deck can be useful, but most people will find that out by accident. Most people think of oracle decks as simpler and more direct than a Tarot deck. So unless the images are very evocative or the accompanying text provides clear messages, the oracle can appear to lack in effectiveness. Let’s take the Imbolc card as an example. The image has already been described. The booklet says "Imbolc is the feast of the new born lambs. Nature awakens from her sleep, first flowers start budding. Time indication: end of winter. This card is a time indicator, so no upright or reversed meaning. The Horned one in the aspect of an infant, the Great Goddess in the aspect of the Maiden."
The booklet doesn’t really explain time indicator cards. So if you use the suggested spread "past, present, future" and this card comes up in the future position, how would you read it? I’m sure you can come up with something useful and pertinent based on your knowledge of Imbolc. But if you are new to Wicca and are trying to read based on the image and the booklet, you’d feel frustrated and probably put this deck aside in favor of something else. The Imbolc card is not an isolated case. Let’s consider the element cards, for example. The Athame card shows a dagger with a yellow circle behind it and a simple oval-shaped border. The booklet says "Athame representing east and the element of air." A person with experience with Tarot or Wiccan tenets would probably read the card as the Ace of Swords in a Tarot deck. But, again, the beginner might feel lost.
This deck is most suited, I think, for Wiccan practitioners who want an oracle deck to act as a doorway for their own spirit and intuition. These simple cards invite meditation and reflection. To just look at, say, the broom card and expect an instant trigger or clear answer will be disappointing. However, to gaze at the broom and let your mind wander and imagine the picture coming to life (is the broom sweeping or flying out of the picture which has somehow become a window?) will yield much more satisfactory results.
Name of deck: Wiccan Cards
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creator’s name: Nada Mesar
Brief biography of creator: Nada Mesar lives in Germany and works as a cartomancer and scryer. She is a Celtic Wicca Elder. In addition to writing the script for the Wiccan Cards, she also wrote the direction for The Sensual Wicca Tarot.
Artist’s name: Chatriya Hemharnvibul
Brief biography of artist(s): Chatriya Hemharnvibul was born in Bangkok, Thailand where she works as an artist. She has been influenced by her love for ancient and exotic cultures, fairy tales, and manga. In addition to illustrating the Wiccan Cards, she also painted the art for the Fenestra Tarot.
Name of accompanying booklet: Wiccan Cards
Number of pages of booklet: 32 (12 in English)
Author(s) of booklet: Nada Mesar
Available in a boxed kit?: No.
Magical Uses: ) spell work and meditation
Reading Uses: All
Ethnic Focus: Celtic
Artistic Style: Painterly with subtle art nouveau influences
Theme: Celtic/European Wicca
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Oracle deck. 33 cards that represent various aspects and elements of Wicca. Details in the review.
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: No
If Divination Deck, what is the structure? 33 cards representing the elements, the God and Goddess, the Sabbats, and other Wiccan symbols.
Why was deck created?: As an oracle system for Wiccans and as a short introduction to Wicca for beginners.
Book suggestions for Tarot beginners and this deck:
Book suggestions for experienced Tarot users and this deck: Wicca for Beginners, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft.
Alternative decks you might like: The Well-Worn Path and The Hidden Path, The Tarot for Hip Witches Kit, The Pagan Tarot.