Reviews: The Witches’ Oracle and A Spellbook for the Seasons

When I received The Witches’ Oracle, I thought that the cover looked familiar. When I opened it up, I knew why: I had this very deck that was released around twenty years ago! Originally called The Wicca Pack, this wonderful deck has been re-released by Eddison Books as The Witches’ Oracle.

In actual fact, this was the first deck that I had ever bought about a decade into my Pagan journeys. And it was so easy to work with, and so accurate for my readings, that I’ve kept it all these years. This new version comes in a beautiful box with a picture of the Witches’ goddess, Aradia on the cover. They have streamlined the book now to correlate only to the deck, and have taken out the Wiccan practices that was in the original book. This makes sense, as now there are so many good books available on Wicca that you don’t need to combine the two.

I love these cards. The artwork is by Danuta Mayer, and it was written by Sally Morningstar. The new deck has cards the same size as the old deck, but these have a nice border which means that the artwork won’t get affected as much through decades of use. It contains cards that relate to Wicca and Witchcraft, such as the ritual tools used, animals and deities. It is certainly a very “witchy” deck, and I love it.

The book does contain a little more information than just the cards and their interpretation, such as a short history and tradition section, before diving right into the card meanings. There’s a final section on how to use different spreads. All in all, this is a wonderful deck, and I love both versions that I now have J

I also received A Spellbook for the Seasons, by Tudorbeth (aka Sarah Coyne). I have to say, I LOVE what they are doing with books these days. They are making books so beautiful again! This lovely hardcover comes filled with gorgeous artwork inside, and it truly is a pretty thing to have and to hold.

The layout of this book is quite different from other compendiums I have come across. It contains the usual material, such as the Wheel of the Year and the festivals, along with spellwork. What is different is that the author has chosen a different pantheon of deities for each section, such as Norse for winter, Celtic for spring, Greek for summer and Roman for autumn. This is a good introduction to different deities and allows the opportunity to work with different pantheons each season, and may bring new gods and goddesses into your work that you have never come across.

This book contains ceremonies that are coven-based, but which can be adapted for solitaries. Other ideas you might find in this book are things like a Sage Water House Cleanse for autumn, or a Sun Day Love Spell for summer. There’s an Ostara Magic Salt, and a Winter’s Morn strength spell. There’s a seasonal garden section, and a crystal section. All in all, this is a very attractive book, which may inspire you on your own magical journeys through the seasons, and is just a delight to flip through on a rainy day to cheer up the heart as well.

Review of The Spirit of Nature Oracle

spirit of natureThe Spirit of Nature Oracle cards by John Matthews and Will Worthington have been re-released by Eddison Books, much to my delight. This deck of 25 cards brings together the wisdom of the Druid Ogam, and the history and magical influence the Green Man has over humanity’s lives still, even in our modern day and age.

The Ogam is a Celtic “alphabet”, a series of lines drawn over a vertical axis that have many various meanings, depending upon the type of Ogam being used. There were over 250 types of Ogam, such as the famous Tree Ogam, Pool Ogam, King Ogam, Bird Ogam, Dog Ogam, even a Food Ogam! These provided the mnemonics necessary to retain and also express a vast wealth of information in as small a form as possible, not unlike poetry and its distillation of meaning to some carefully chosen words. The Green Man is a figure from out of the mists of time, one that has watched over humanity since its inception and throughout its evolution. Trees have been a very important part of humanity’s existence and success, for within their shaded boughs we found safety and security, as well as food and healing.

Bringing the Ogam and the Green Man together is a wonderful way to provide a holistic tree-based divination system. In our modern society, we are a very visual bunch, and so I believe the popularity of oracle cards has gained because of this in our lives. Our memories are filled with such an abundance of other “stuff” than our ancient ancestors held, and so the training to interpret the various meanings of each Ogam would take more time than most have in order to be successful. By bringing the format into something very visual, we can meditate upon the image and see the meanings held there, both historically and in our own personal gnosis, brought to life in an easy form and media that anyone can use.

We have the brilliant artwork by Will Worthington, who used ancient, traditional methods such as painting with egg tempura-based paints upon wooden panels. Matthews’ knowledge and wisdom shines through the text, providing historical background to the Ogam and the Green Man, both simply and eloquently, as anyone who is familiar with his works can attest to (and I’m a big fan). The divinatory meanings are clear and inspired, and yet personal gnosis is recommended first and foremost by Matthews when drawing a card, for to gaze upon the card before outside influence can reveal some truths about the self that others’ interpretations could not touch upon.

There are some suggestions for drawing the cards, based on one, three or five-card spreads. Using the Tree of Life spread, by placing three cards in reference to the Lower, Middle and Upperworld is truly inspired. It’s an approachable deck, for anyone to use, regardless of religious or spiritual background or preference. The cards can simply be used to meditate upon the season and the cycle that we are currently in, as well as being used for divinatory purposes. I would highly recommend using them both ways!

I am so very pleased that this deck has been re-released, and in such a beautiful format. It comes in a sturdy box, to protect both book and cards from being banged around and makes it useful when travelling. My only criticism would be that it would have been nice for the book to have been in colour as well, to match the cards, but being an author myself I am fully aware of the limitations both in print and in financial terms that this would be subject to, and so would say that the beauty of the cards themselves more than makes up for it. The book is great reference and resource material, and the cards are wonderful pieces of artwork. I highly recommend this deck to anyone who loves trees, nature, Celtic lore and spirituality or who just loves and collects oracle cards!