I’d heard about the upcoming release of this deck over a year ago, but when I received a copy just a few weeks back, I had no idea of what it would look like and knew no more than its title and the name of its creators.
Gaia’s Vision Oracle Cards is a tool for connecting to the living spirit of Earth. In the introduction, it is suggested that we are at our best when are able to dream in harmony with the world around us. It says “Have you ever had a moment – or an hour or a day – when you felt completely at one with your natural surroundings? You were swimming, perhaps, and felt as fluid as the water, part of it. Or you sank your entire body down into the sand and could feel Gaia’s coolness at daybreak, or her heat at midday”. With this deck, its suggested that we can access Mother Earth’s wisdom, strength and vitality by divining messages and guidance from its images.
In terms of production, this set is as lavish as many of Schiffer’s releases. It comes in a robust box with magnetic closure; it’s immediately attractive, dressed in purples and lime greens. Within it you will find a slim (but large) 24 page book and 40 large cards sit within a well. They have a glossy appearance and the images are horizontal, which makes sense for a deck created around the landscape of nature.
The artist for this set is Doris Diamond. Each card is photographic but has been manipulated on the computer by layering up two images at a time. After taking a photography class, Doris found that these new hybrids inspired her more than the original photos she’d taken. She says “The dreamy, mystical quality spoke deeply to me”. And she is not wrong. Some of these images are beautifully graceful – I especially like ‘Mists of Tears’, ‘Ancient Light’, and ‘Spirit Signals’. In many, it is the colours which grab me – the beautiful purples in ‘Graceful Yield’ and the burnt reds and yellows in ‘Desire in Bloom’. The borders are different colours, each taking form of a prominent colour in its image. While we will all see something different in the artwork, there is only four I have noticed which have an animal in them. The majority contain flowers, plants, and trees, layered over one another, two at a time.
Susan Starr is a certified holistic health coach and runs a blog of her own, The Sweet Health Blog. Whether she is the same Susan Starr who created Unicorn Tarot (which I like a lot and have reviewed here), her biography does not say. She describes herself as an eclectic writer and has a history with tarot, so it is highly likely that the Unicorn Tarot is hers.
While the book is recognisably larger than the usual little white pamphlet you’ll find with most tarots and oracles, it doesn’t contain much more information than you’d find in one. There is a little background about how the images were created and how you might work with them but the actual definitions are small. Each has a title, keyword, and a short piece of descriptive text. As an example, with ‘Budding Heart’ it says ‘Delicate wonder … centered in your core. Bliss and calm … the power to see now what you missed before. Your heart is the gathering place … fresh light dances around your awareness. Beginnings … you are ripe for the secret’. The keyword is ‘Innocence’.
All of the definitions have this poetic style to them. While it is not difficult to work out what they are driving at if you really concentrate, their vagueness can become a little irritating if you are someone who just wants basic interpretations. In some cases, the keyword connects to the writing with more ease than the cards title. As an example, for ‘True Being’, the book says ‘Turbulent water washes over gray rocks … whats underneath? Shadows dance … your old stories play … they are swept away in the flow. You emerge … crystal bright, shining. Currents of clarity support you now’. The keyword is ‘Transformation’.
In the Appendix, Susan includes suggested questions for ‘visioning’. There are twenty-seven of these and they are an interesting inclusion. They can help a reader to access the cards more practically, with questions like ‘What is my truth?’ and ‘What old beliefs are constricting me? Who could I be without those beliefs?’. Nine spreads are also included. These are well constructed, encouraging us to link to nature and the elements; ‘The Mountain Spread’, ‘Sacred Fire Spread’ and ‘The River Spread’ are just three of these interesting additions.
There is no doubt that the images are attractive. As with many decks, there are some which are stronger than others, but generally, they are a calming and soothing selection of art pieces to look through. The only problem I can see some readers having with these is that many do look alike. Another reviewer found them ‘monotonous’. When there are so many nature-based decks already on the market, this is a fair criticism and one to be aware of, but what is nice about Gaia Vision Oracle Cards is that they focus on the beauty and palette of the world around us rather than personifying Mother Earth. Gaia is in every blade of grass, droplet of water, and grain of sand, which we see here.
Personally speaking, this is not a deck I would choose for professional readings but I can see it being one I might pull out for personal reflection, journaling, or for using as gentle daily guidance. I have worked with the cards for the previous two weeks. I’d considered bringing them to my Tarot Thoughts videos but they just didn’t provide the kind of information that tarot and some of my other upfront oracle decks will.
If you think about the changing of the seasons, the slow opening of a flower, or the gentle drip, drip, drip of water on your window sill after a storm, you will have some idea of how this deck feels for me. Because of their horizontal orientation, these cards are lovely for standing up where you can see them daily, and slowly drinking in their wisdom but they don’t shout out to be used. If you do purchase this deck, I’d probably recommend that you divine with just image and title. Susan suggests that you experiment until you find a way which works for you and lists ways in which you can use them for inspiration – in prayer, poetry, story, drawing, painting or sculpting.
As usual in my reviews, I like to ask the deck to describe itself in just one card and I have received Dancing, The Spirial. In this image, we see lush green leaves, gradually turning to blue. In some areas of the art, this play between colours reminds me of butterflies. When asked about its strength, this deck says ‘I am not the finished article when you receive me .. like nature itself, I must be nurtured and worked with, one day at a time. This is not a quick process. As anyone who grows a flower or vegetable or rears a child or animal will know, it takes time. I will not be understood over night or in one sitting. I bloom slowly, but surely, should you give me a chance’.
The Gaia’s Vision Oracle Cards by Doris Diamond and Susan Starr are published by Schiffer.
You can find a full walk through in my video here.