Halloween Oracle by Stacey Demarco and Jimmy Manton
(Blue Angel 2014)
(Blue Angel 2014)
I'm growing quite fond of oracles by Blue Angel Publishing. For one thing, they come in a standard size box of sturdy construction and the cards are of consistent style and quality. I like that. I like the way a line of Blue Angel boxes looks lined up on the shelf. We've all got our kinks.
Attractive standard size Blue Angel oracle box, black on the outside with orange on the inside, a 36 card oracle deck and an 80 page companion book that fits inside the box. As usual, the cards are smaller than the box and a liner to make them fit is not included. The book fits over the cards and sits snugly inside the box. I was surprised that the deck is only 36 cards as Blue Angel usually includes 44 cards, and goodness knows there is plenty of Halloween material to come up with more than 44 cards! A curious decision.
The deck attempts to take images and concepts associated with Halloween and give them a divinatory interpretation. The cards are rather large (typical Blue Angel size) and feature black borders and a black back decorated with grey jack-o-lanterns, witch's hats, ghosts, black cats and broomsticks. (The companion book cover is also embossed with these.) This suggests at once that the target market is younger and the tone of the deck is more along the trick-or-treat variety. That said, the subtitle is 'Lifting the Veil Between the Worlds Every Night,' Demarco does talk about being a pagan/witch and celebrating Samhain, and there are cards that fit both themes.
I was really surprised to find out Jimmy Manton did the art for this deck. I have the Isis Oracle, and I must say I quite dislike that deck's art, which is similar to what he did for the Gods and Titans Oracle. The Halloween Oracle looks somewhat different, different enough that I didn't recognise him at first, though now that I know the artist I can see elements of his style. I much prefer this deck to those, as far as art.
I like many of the card choices and am puzzled by others. We have familiar Halloween characters: Werewolf, Vampire, Ghost, Witch, Mummy, Zombie. We have Halloween traditions: Trick-or-Treat, Jack-o-Lantern, Black Cat, Graveyard, Barmbrack, Apple, and Skeleton. Then we get into the pagan/witch/Samhain side with: Cauldron, Ancestors, Hearth, Scrying, Spider, Owl, Lamp, Veil, Underworld. A few associated cards that fit: Death, Winter, Nightsong, Midnight, Dawn. Then there are some curious ones: Eternal Love, Forgiveness, Joy, Invisibility and Lady De Los Muertos. And finally the ones that puzzle me: Skull of Light, Skull of Flowers, Skull of Stars, Skull of Darkness.
Which brings me to my next question -- what's with the skulls?? In a deck of 36 cards, 8 of them feature skulls.
What is this, the Skull Oracle? There is so much evocative, eerie, resonant, haunting and beautiful imagery for this time of year and season. Why so many skulls, I ask! It seems odd and, I must say, somewhat lazy. I know Halloween is a festival for remembering ancestors, and we as human beings have a long history of using the skull and images of the skull for that purpose. But wow. That's a lot of skulls.
Here are some favourite images:
Each card gets roughly 1/2 page of explanatory text, and as usual with Stacey Demarco, an attempt at a rhymed verse. These are truly dreadful, I must say. Here's a sample:
Stalking and stomping
Eyes shining and begging baskets
Faces and bodies
that are no longer ours
Laughing, skeletons and candy caskets.
Tis not the end
Though I may pass in the night
I get to do my time over
Though you may get a fright!
Really? I mean, really? Words fail. (Particularly in this case.)
Other than the verse, each card gets a bit of explanation of the Halloween or Samhain tradition and a divinatory interpretation. To be honest, you don't need the book. The image, title and subtitle on each card will be more than sufficient.
This deck is not likely to lead to any groundbreaking readings, but it is pretty to look at and a nice addition to the seasonal subset of your tarot and oracle collection. (Don't tell me you don't have a seasonal subset!)