D.I.Y. Divination


Over the last few years, oracle decks have become a larger part of my practice. This has been quite a turnaround for me, since oracles always  played second fiddle to tarot. I like the structure of a traditional tarot deck and when I first started delving into oracles, many were little more than positive affirmations.

I actually like a lot of the oracles I once snubbed and use them in my professional practice, but there are many more well thought out oracles on the market these days – The Chronicles of Destiny Fortune Cards (Josephine and Emily Ellershaw) and The Wisdom of the Oracle (Collette Baron-Reid) being the first two that come to mind.

I was chatting with a friend on Instagram last week about interpreting specific decks and she asked me if it was ok to side-step traditional interpretation when using a tarot deck that blantantly doesn’t want to be read traditionally. While I like to read Waite-style decks with Waite’s system, there are decks which beg for a reader to free-style. However, for many of us, there is a fear of straying from the known path. We are frightened of getting it wrong or, even worse, to be seen doing things differently.

When I was at the Tarot Festival in London, I met Cilla Conway (The Intuitive Tarot, The Byzantine Tarot). I was very attracted to her Devas of Creation oracle. While we looked through the deck together, she encouraged me to tell her what I saw in her paintings. For those ten or so minutes that we chatted I felt liberated and free, but when I got home and started reading her book and working with her deck, it felt wrong to stray from her words and plan (even though she’d told me to!).

There are decks out there which don’t have an accompanying book; probably the most well-known of these are the Soul Cards decks (Deborah Koff-Chapin). I’ve owned both but traded them many years ago. Because a reader can work with them in any way they wish, I often wonder if I should repurchase. I like that freedom but my biggest problem with those specific card decks was that I just didn’t jive with all of the images. With this in mind, we could use any deck intuitively, but there is an alternative. You could make an oracle deck yourself.

Over the years, I’ve made many oracles and I am not the only one – Kristen (Over The Moon Oracle Cards) is one reader and designer who has many creative sets under her belt. Like many self-published designers, her creations are beautifully printed and can be bought in her shop,  but for those who just want to create a one-off set of cards to use for them self, there is a simpler way. You only need some images, a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a laminator.

Because I like to collage, I have a bundle of old art magazines and books in a box. But rather than collage images together, I picked images (and portions of images) to glue onto the faces of an existing deck of redundant cards. Playing cards are good to use, since they are cheap to buy. I went through the books and magazines, pulling out pictures I was attracted to. I began to bond with them even before they made it onto the cards.

Once I knew which ones I wanted to use, I glued them to the card faces and laminated them, cutting away the excess and rounding the corners after. The lamination gave them a nice feel and helped them shuffle with ease.

You can choose any kind of images for your oracle. It was important for mine to work directly with my intuition, so I chose sections of impressionist paintings: some had subjects (like a magpie, a tree trunk, a house, and a woman reading) but many are splashes of colour and abstract pattern. What is wonderful about this exercise is that it totally unchains your intuition. Does your ‘Fish’ card need to mean the same as in a Lenormand deck? Does your globe need to have the same associations as ‘The World’ in tarot? No. They can mean whatever you like and nobody is going to scold you for it! In my cut and paste deck, you’ll find one card which is half black and half white. For me, it represents conflict, but it could mean balance or alchemy to another reader. One of my ‘boat’ cards speaks of delays and rest.

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You don’t need to be an artist to create a worthwhile and inspirational deck. You don’t need computer skills or even much money to make a pack of cards which can be used with great results, personally or professionally. All you need to do is leave your perfectionism at the door, jump right in, and let you intuition lead the way.

You want a deck which you can bond with like no other in your collection? Well, why not make your own?




4 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Divination

  1. I keep looking and trying oracle decks, trying to find the perfect fit for my readings and needs. I haven’t found “the one” per se, but a few have gotten close. Though not as talented as you are in the art making process, I see myself maybe collecting enough images one day to generate my own oracle. This post is a move in that direction.


  2. I know what you mean about oracles, Walter. In terms of a decent reading deck, Chronicles of Destiny is the one I click with best.

    But I am also up for something 100% intuitive. I keep looking at the Soul Cards (which I once owned but traded). I’m not sure that they are not all too similar and wonder if that is why I traded them the first time around. In that sense, making my own would tick many boxes. There are not enough masculine oracles out there, I find, and I am not really that struck on the ones there are.


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