Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Gateway Spirit Guides Reading

I believe that we have many different animal spirit guides in our lifetime. When I do Animal Guides readings for clients, I share my findings concerning lifetime guides as well as guides for a particular year or month. To order an Animal Guides reading, just go to my web site at .

In this post, I am using the Gateway Spirit Guides Spread provided in the guidebook that accompanies  the Ancient Animal Wisdom oracle deck by Stacy James and Jada Fire (U.S. Games, Inc.) To read my review of this deck, click HERE.

For this spread, two cards are selected to represent my life protectors and Animal Spirit Guides who walk beside me, offering protection, guidance and love. I will bring into my reading the ideas shared by the creators of the Ancient Animal Wisdom deck concerning the animals who come forward for me.

My animals are:

Ancient Animal Wisdom deck (U.S. Games)
Keyphrase: Healing Waters
Number 3: Creativity, Mind/Body/Spirit, Divinity

The Hippopotamus loves water, spending much of its time submerged in rivers. Immersing oneself in water often symbolizes washing away that which is unhelpful or negative, clearing the mind and spirit to receive what they need to thrive. Personally, I love being in the water, swimming, diving, floating – literally and figuratively. I am pleased to have the Hippo as my companion.

photo by Zanna Starr

Ancient Animal Wisdom deck (U.S. Games)
LION (card 8)
Keyword: Family
Number 8: Balance, Infinity, Material Satisfaction

Unlike many big cats, lions are not solitary but travel in “prides” or families. This card is a timely reminder to me to value and accept family members, while at the same time retaining my individuality and avoiding any tendencies toward codependency. The “material satisfaction” aspect of this card is also appropriate, I think. I am not (I hope) greedy, but I do desire a certain level of security and stability in the material realm.

photo by Zanna Starr

It is interesting to me that both of these animals can be quite ferocious and aggressive when defending their territory or offspring. They are not passive, easygoing creatures – although they sometimes appear that way on the surface. They are always ready to act and react as needed for self-preservation. It may be that I need to cultivate some of this “fierceness” in my life.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Review: Ancient Animal Wisdom


by Stacy James and Jada Fire
Artwork by Jada Fire
Paperback: 44 pages
Cards measure: 3.5 ̎ x 4.85 ̎ 
Box measures: 3.75 ̎ x 5.25 ̎
ISBN-10: 1572817720
ISBN-13: 978-1572817722

TOP LINE (formerly Bottom Line)

As the owner of many animal-themed oracle and tarot decks, I am always on the lookout for something different in that realm. Ancient Animal Wisdom focuses on African animals, portraying them with vivid color and a somewhat abstract style – but never so abstract that you can’t tell what animal (or tree) is being shown. I love that the images on these cards evoke a response, a feeling, a reaction. My gaze dwells on the images, enjoying the free flowing colors and clever details. I am looking forward to reading with this deck!


"Ancient Animal Wisdom oracle set brings the energy and insight of 38 different African animal spirit guides into your life to help you connect with your own intuition and find clarity. Each magnificent creature communicates a powerful message through Jada Fire's vibrant artwork and Stacy James' inspirational passages."


_Jada Fire_ is an innovative painter, illustrator, writer, yoga teacher and dancer.

Stacy James is a creative intuitive, guide, teacher and writer who has spent much of her life in service helping others on their path to personal growth. Stacy is donating a portion of the proceeds from each purchase of Ancient Animal Wisdom to _Dazzle Africa_, which supports conservation efforts in Zambia.


The authors tell us that the Ancient Animal Wisdom cards “can support you in aligning with your soul’s purpose, communicating with Spirit Guides, and connecting with your Inner Light, as they guide you towards your heart’s desires.”

All of the animals (and the two trees) depicted in this deck are found in Africa, most in Zambia. Because there are 73 different languages represented in Zambia, the cards featuring animals residing in Zambia bear their names in the local Zambian language, Nyanja. If the animal resides in another region of Africa, the closest local language is used. Two of the cards feature trees: Baobab Tree (30) and Sausage Fruit Tree (32).

Each card has the name of the animal or tree and the card number centered at the top or bottom of the card. On some cards, the name is at the top and the number is at the bottom. On others, both the name and number are at the bottom of the card.

One of the cards is very different from the others. It is card number 7, titled Dugong Tiger. The illustration is a half-human, half-tiger face. The keyword for this card is “Balance.”

Ancient Animal Wisdom (US Games)
I was intrigued enough by this card to ask Stacy James to help me understand how the “dugong” (similar to a manatee) fits into this card. She replied:
“Originally, this card was going to be the actual Dugong / Tiger. Living in the elements of Fire and Water and the extremities that touch us as human beings living on this planet...Emotions, realities, and perceptions. As this card was evolving, it became known that it would be our last card to create and it turned out to be number 7 - we call it lucky, and in it's deepest form is the truth seeking card. What's behind the curtain... Jada and I trust our messages from spirit, and what came through her was this current drawing. In the original deck, both the card and the text card were outlined in a very watery blue, giving the essence of dugong.” 
Jada Fire offered the following comments:
“This card and the meaning behind balance is such a deep lesson for me that we decided I'd draw this illustration last, like a finale to it all. We say this card is our 'lucky' card as there are two creatures / entities that represent the flame and the wave, the yin and yang, the extremities, the polarities. When Dugong Tiger comes up, we are offered an opportunity to anchor in our balance point, reminding us that we don't live in the extremities of our lives yet can find great joy, wisdom and growth from swinging to both sides of our pendulum.” 
The 44-page guidebook that comes with this boxed set is the same dimensions as the cards and has a glossy color cover. The booklet contains information on how to use the 38 cards, how to take care of them, numerology, and an explanation of how the African names used for the animals in the deck were chosen. Following the Table of Contents, a long paragraph is devoted to each animal, including the card number, animal’s name in English, animal’s name in the appropriate African language, and a keyword or keyphrase for that card.

After these descriptions we are given several Animal Card Spreads. The authors give suggestions on how to read reversed cards, which can represent an imbalance between you and the energy of the chosen Animal Spirit Guide.

The authors mention Ted Andrews as a “distant mentor” for this deck. They also pay homage to Jamie Sams and David Carson, creators of _Medicine Cards_ in 1988, a foundation for many decks that have followed.


card back
This set is packaged in a sturdy, attractive box with a lid. The guidebook is also very attractive, a few steps up from the Little White Book included with many decks. The cards are printed in color on good quality stock with a glossy finish. At 3.5 ̎ x 4.85 ̎ , they are small enough that you can probably poker-shuffle them if you insist on using that method.

The cards have a patterned border in colors that include shades of brown, gold, green, blue, purple. I was not able to determine a particular reason for the color chosen for each card.


These cards are alive with color, creating a “mood” that flows into and around the person viewing and using them. Artistic interpretations of the animals (and trees) are at various times whimsical (Baboon, Frog), realistic (Mountain Zebra, Wildebeest), and what I would call “psychedelic” (Black Mamba Snake, Flamingo). Then there’s the Honey Badger, assigned the perfect keyword: Fierce.

The style is, in one sense, primitive, but also quite complex. Many of the images are not what one traditionally expects. For example, for “Gorilla” we might expect shades of black and gray, a large lumbering creature – but instead we see eyes and nose peeking through vivid green foliage.

If you are interested, you can purchase 11” x 14” prints of many of the cards:

In accordance with the FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, I hereby disclose that this product was provided by the publisher for free. Other than the occasional review copy, I receive no monetary or in-kind compensation for my reviews.  The substance of my reviews is not influenced by whether I do or do not receive a review copy.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Reading About a Friend's Marriage

This post contains a reading for a friend who is going through significant challenges related to her marriage.

My friend has been separated from her husband for over a year. He says he still loves her, but is battling psychological issues that prevent him from living with her (or anyone else, apparently) in the role of partner or husband. He has said he will not file for divorce. A recent “meeting” with him was extremely disappointing for my friend.

I am using The Prague Threshold Spread, which I believe was created for use with the Tarot of Prague by Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov (The Magic Realist Press).

I am using a deck gifted to me by my dear friend and former blog partner, Helen, when I met her in person on my recent trip to Australia. This is the Llewellyn Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson (Llewellyn Publications).

Here is the layout:

3               5

(1) Current situation
(2) What lies on the other side of the gateway (outcome)
(3) and (5) Issues that need to be considered or actions that need to be taken
(4) Influence that lies over the steps being taken

Let’s see what the cards can tell us about my friend’s relationship problem.

(1) Current situation: FOUR OF WANDS
This card is often seen as indicating a celebration, sharing, equilibrium, and contentment. Anna-Marie Ferguson writes “virtue, vigilance, and restraint are rewarded.” To me, it seems like the opposite meaning is more appropriate here. My friend thought her marriage met all of the above criteria but found out that the “sharing, equilibrium, and contentment” was an illusion. I suppose it is possible that this card refers to an underlying stability that remains between her and her husband in spite of all that has happened. The number four can also suggest stagnation, and the relationship has been “on hold” for more than a year.

(3) and (5) Issues that need to be considered or actions that need to be taken:

My friend needs to call on her inner strength and convictions in this situation. Ferguson writes that STRENGTH means the “ability to endure failures, losses, and disappointment, and yet keep the faith.” My friend must rely on a balance of reason and passion.

I see JUDGEMENT here as, literally, a “wake up call” for my friend. She needs to “wake up” to the reality of this situation. Ferguson writes that this card means “having the courage to make necessary changes to bring about growth and purpose.”

(4) Influence that lies over the steps being taken: JUSTICE
It is encouraging to see JUSTICE in this position. Key phrases used by Ferguson include “honesty and honour,” “the triumph of reason,” and “favourable judgment in legal matters.” The truth will out. Fairness will prevail. Negotiations will succeed.

(2) What lies on the other side of the gateway (outcome): ACE OF PENTACLES
Aces usually represent a new beginning, the start of a new phase or stage in one’s life. We have the suit of Pentacles here, which tells us this new start may take place in the physical, material realm, which includes money, possessions, and health. This suggests to me that unless current conditions change, my friend and her husband are likely to divorce and divide up their property so that she essentially “starts over” on her own, responsible for her own financial security and stability (Ace = 1).

The presence of three Major Arcana cards in this five-card set makes it clear that this situation is of great significance in my friend’s life. I don’t think anyone needs the Tarot to recognize that. I find it reassuring that JUSTICE appears in position 4. When a marriage dissolves, the best we can really hope for is that the outcome is fair/just.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

An Interview with Under the Roses Lenormand

I was recently trying to decide what type of interview to do with my Under the Roses Lenormand by Kendra Hurteau and Katrina Hill (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.) With excellent timing, Marcus Katz posted a video in which he demonstrated how to use a simple cut-deck method to talk with a Tarot or Oracle deck. He even used a Lenormand deck for the video. To watch the video, click on this link:

Let’s see what I can discover about the Under the Roses deck using this method. I am starting with the question: What would you like me to understand about you? The answer to that question will lead to further questions and answers. I put each drawn card back into the deck and reshuffled before drawing again because I felt it was important to let a card appear more than once if appropriate.

Under the Roses Lenormand

What would you like me to understand about you? THE CLOVER
I bring opportunities and rewards that you may not expect.

What can you tell me about these opportunities and rewards? THE SHIP
They involve a journey and a transition, exploration and distance.

Distance from what? THE GRAVE
Distance from a misfortune or unhappiness that limits and blocks you.

What can you tell me about this misfortune or unhappiness that limits and blocks me?
The misfortune or unhappiness involves a choice you made, a direction you took, a cycle from which you need to be liberated.

What is the first step I should take to liberate myself? THE SHIP
As I believe I mentioned before, a journey or transition – separation, distance -- is required in order to liberate yourself and take advantage of opportunities and rewards.

What will help me take the first step? THE CHILD
A little child shall lead you – or perhaps the spirit of the child you once were – filled with curiosity, eager to learn, willing and able to get up and keep going after falling down. As the saying goes, every journey begins with a single step.

This has been a most revealing and relevant interview! I will be sure to use it again with other decks.