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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: http://ancientanimalwisdom.com/category/prints/

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.

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~ Zanna