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Monday, May 28, 2012

REVIEW: Playing Card Oracles Divination Deck


Playing Card Oracles Divination Deck
Author: Ana Cortez, C.J. Freeman
Artist: C.J. Freeman
U.S. Games Systems, Inc., 2012 
ISBN 978-1-57281-525-4

To read my review of The Playing Card Oracles: A Source Book for Divination
 by Ana Cortez and C.J. Freeman (U.S. Games Systems), click HERE.

My interview with Ana Cortez is posted HERE


“Playing Card Oracles transforms the ordinary 52-card deck into an extraordinary divinatory tool. Each card in this divination deck features exquisite original artwork that invokes the mysteries of the ancient oracles.”


In addition to the 52 cards of the oracle, this deck includes a title card, an “About the Authors and Illustrator” card, and a card containing a description of the purpose and nature of the deck.
As Ana Cortez states in the Introduction to the 27-page LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies this deck, The Playing Card Oracles deck is not a Tarot deck, or even derived from a Tarot deck.

Although similar in some ways to a standard playing card deck, these cards feature “exquisite artwork designed to help you discover the secret wisdom of the ancient oracles.”

In the Introduction we are also encouraged to consider the construction of the standard deck of playing cards, 52 in number just as there are 52 weeks in a year. Cortez points out that the playing deck is “actually a perfect replica of a Fixed Lunar Calendar.” I was most intrigued by her comment that we use calendars to chart events that have not yet occurred (like we might use an oracle), something I confess I never thought of!

The suits in the Playing Card Oracles – representing the four essential aspects of our lives --  are Diamonds (Fire), Clubs (Air), Hearts (Water), and Spades (Earth). Key Concepts are provided for each suit. As in a standard playing card deck, Spades and Clubs icons are rendered in black; Hearts and Diamonds are red.

Cortez explains that she intends the explanations of each card to be “clues” or “abbreviations.” We are encouraged to allow the images, colors, and the total picture in a layout inspire our interpretations.

At the end of the LWB we are given a 4-card spread called “The Present Spread.” This spread is intended to provide a snapshot of the time at hand as well as the four weeks to come. Next, we have another 4-card spread called The Cat Spread (deriving its name from the belief that cats are sensitive to subtle energies). We are also given a technique for interpreting the cards in a 4-card spread as representing the Head, Throat, Torso, and Feet of a human body. This can give us a picture of a person in time (the time specified by the cut of the cards).

Four blank pages are provided for Notes.


The cards are small -- 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches -- and printed on glossy card stock.

Card backs: The ¼ inch outer border is cream colored. Inside that is double black inner border, and within that, another ¼ inch cream border. Black and cream swirls, whirls, and symbols fill the center. The backs are not reversible if you look closely.

Card faces: Most of the cards have a cream-colored background; some have a black background (8 of Hearts, 3 of Hearts). Still others have a predominantly gray/white background (2 of Hearts, 6 of Spades). I am not able to discern a pattern or reason for this, although perhaps I will discover something as I continue to read with these cards.

Court cards: The suit icon, card name, and card number appear in various places on the cards, along with a portrait-style or full-body picture of the Court member. These cards are multi-colored. Court cards are numbered 11, 12, 13, and 14. The figures on cards 11 and 12 are youthful; those on 13 and 14 are older. The Courts are not titled King, Queen, and so forth. Instead they are titled with a proper name. For example, the Queen of Spades is Morgana, the King of Hearts is Good King Nichomiah.
Pips (numbered cards): Images are gray, white, and black. Suit icons are superimposed on the images. The Aces feature a large suit icon in the center, interwoven with the central image.


Ana Cortez’s father, C.J. Freeman, created the illustrations on The Playing Card Oracles. The artwork is highly symbolic and explained clearly in The Playing Card Oracles: A Source Book for Divination by Ana Cortez and C.J. Freeman (U.S. Games Systems).


I find these cards to be engaging and intriguing. Freeman’s art is distinctive and compelling. The small size makes the cards easy to shuffle as well as easy to carry in purse or pocket. I do recommend that the cards be used with the larger source book mentioned above to get the most from them, but the LWB provides a basic understanding. 

If you enjoy oracle decks and inventive systems or methods for reading them, you’ll appreciate The Playing Card Oracles.

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.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I love tarot cards based on basic card decks and prefer them.

  2. You're welcome, L.M. Tea! I am enjoying the way C.J. Freeman added art to the standard playing card icons -- gives me a whole new way to look at the cards!


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~ Zanna