It requires a certain sense of trust and connection to be called to work with oracle cards. Often, we reach for a deck to draw upon wisdom beyond ourselves, with faith that the interconnection between the deck and ourselves will yield a new perspective. This understanding of inter-relationship is at the core of shamanism, which honours that all of life is sacred and vital to the entirety of the whole. The Shamanic Medicine Oracle Cards by Barbara Meiklejohn-Free and Flavia Kate Peters perfectly captures the sense that nature is our greatest guide, and it is a deck that is very helpful in bridging the spiritual and natural world. The Shamanic Medicine Oracle Cards bring forth the wisdom of the shamanism to guide the reader on their journey.
Meiklejohn-Free and Peters describe in the deck’s guidebook that “shamanism is not a religion, but a wonderful world of freedom, magic and connection with the physical and spiritual worlds.”1 Through interacting with the spirits of the land and living by the laws of nature, Indigenous peoples have found the unique medicine within all living things. The deck aims to assist the reader in remembering how to connect to the earth-based wisdom of ancestors for healing, insight and connection. Through the deck, one can seek what they are looking to find and embrace the shaman within.
The shamanic path will call you to be in the right place at the right time. The art is not to question, but to be ready to answer and surrender. This path will challenge you and push you over the edge of comfort and familiarity.
The authors provide a very brief suggestion of spreads the reader may choose to use with the Shamanic Medicine Oracle Cards. The only recommendation is for a simple one-card reading or a three-card past, present, future draw. The guidebook gives the impression that more is less then working with the cards. What I like about the suggested card spreads section, despite its brevity, is the authors provide example interpretations for the three cards the offered layout. They present the meaning for each card individually and then a summary of the overall reading. I appreciated this guidance of how an actual reading can be gathered from one of the offered spreads.
The rest of the guidebook features interpretations for each of the 50 cards in the deck. Each interpretation is two pages long. The pages feature an image of the card with its name at the top and a one-paragraph shamanic interpretation. Following the card’s meaning is a description of how the image in the card relates to shamanism. For example, the passage for the card Flute describes how it is one of the oldest musical instruments and has been used in rituals for hunting and connecting to deity. After that section, another divinatory meaning for the card is offered. Finally, a four-lined poem concludes the interpretation of each card. The meanings are arranged alphabetically, which make it very simple to find the selection you are looking for in the guidebook.
The artwork on the cards, created by Yuri Lietch, is absolutely stunning. The deck has a tone of deeply nurturing colour palette. Hue of red, orange and brown dominate the deck, yet here and there is a brilliantly illuminated blue, yellow and green card. Lietch uses spirals, and circular lines to convey a sense of potent energy running through the cards. In the card Shaman, I could almost feel it pulsing in my hand from the vivid imagery. The images all fit together nicely as a deck and really draw me to use them on a continual basis. I am provided a sense of comfort by spending time gazing or meditating with the imagery on the cards.
As a sample experience, the card I drew for a reading was Prayer. This card made me feel blissful just by gazing at it. I felt the pull of the cosmos with my body, joining with the spirit of the land. The imagery made me feel called to extend gratitude to the earth below and sky above. Part of card meaning describes, “when you understand prayer as an opportunity to offer yourself up as a conduit for change, so your energy and intention can be directed to facilitate change, you are participating in prayer far more effectively.”2 I resonated with that statement and valued the perspective it provided for my situation. I also very much liked the Revealed section of the card meaning which wrote about how shamans use prayer sticks to “notify the spirit realm of their intention to seek guidance.”3
One of my favourite things about the Shamanic Medicine Oracle Cards is how smooth the cards are to shuffle. They fit perfectly in the palm of my hand and seem to glide effortlessly when I sort through them. There is a tactile sensation invoked that brings me deeper into my own sense of embodiment when working with this deck. The cards hold a vibration in tune with the natural world, so I feel they strengthen my meditations when working with the cardinal directions and spirits of the land. I often like to work with them outdoors.
Overall, I find the Shamanic Medicine Oracle Cards absolutely wonderful. They have continually provided me with insight guidance when I have used them. I feel the authors do a fantastic job of not exploiting or appropriating shamanism or Indigenous practices, which I highly respect. I am comfortable using the deck because the authors feel authentic in sharing their knowledge and experience in nature-based shamanic traditions through the cards. This particularly comes through when reading how each card is related to shamanic practice in the guidebook. I highly recommend this deck for readers of all experience levels. New readers will easily be able to gain practice with the simple spreads provided and seasoned readers will find this a very grounding deck to have in their collection.