Blame the wonderful Balthazar and the addictiveness of Amazon Prime in equal measure.
There’s a Lovecraftian Tarot deck that’s actually good and I don’t own it?! (Already have and like this one.)
And it’s good. In a lot of ways it’s just what the doctor ordered. There has been a hole in my ‘glass half empty’ card sets for a while.
Let me explain.
You will have no doubt noticed that certain oracle systems -and this post is strictly concerned with the cartomantic- have an emotional range.
Some are so irrepressibly positive as to be completely useless. *cough* DoreenVirtue’sangeloracleandeveryotheroracleshehasproduced *cough* Some -like certain versions of Sibilla- are too paranoid to suit every day situations. (Everyone’s always getting stolen from or being stabbed in the street or receiving a shocking letter from a lawyer about a conniving, elderly relative in the countryside.)
Calculating the emotional range of your oracle
We can potentially -just for the fuck of it- come close to a system of measurement for oracular emotional range whereby the Rider-Waite deck is attributed a value of zero. Thus Crowley’s Thoth deck would have a value of +1 Rider. (I find it more expansive and hence slightly more positive. Also the minor arcana aren’t as barren.)
The benefit of oracle systems having an emotional range is it allows you to match one to a the relevant situation at hand. For ‘default’ readings, you are obviously best served by using an emotionally ‘balanced’ deck. What I loathe about a lot of the Doreen Virtue-esque decks is they don’t have a single ‘no’ card, let alone a ‘fuck no, you absolute mentalist!’ card. How are you supposed to drive a car without a brake??
Here are some of my most regularly used decks from most ‘negative’ to most ‘positive’:
- Dark Grimoire Tarot. (Okay, it’s new but this is where it goes.) -4R
- Fallen Angel Oracle Cards -3R
- Necronomicon Tarot -3R
- Sibilla 1 -1R
- Sibilla 2 (My handmade Florentine deck is slightly more positive) -1R
- Arthurian Tarot (My default deck. Been using the same one for fifteen years.) +1R
- Wisdom Of The Four Winds (This one is for the kiwis out there which I guess is… what… Nick?) +2R
- Faeries Oracle. (Don’t judge me, dammit. It always gives me really accurate readings.) +3R
You’re free to disagree or move certain things around. As ever, I’d really appreciate your input. The important thing is that you have an understanding of the emotional range of your regular oracles for what happens next.
Some cards you will be so familiar with that when they appear in a spread you know they’re of sufficient complexity and meaning that it warrants further examination.
For instance in my most-used deck, the Eight of Swords; Guenevere at the Stake; means a very specific kind of malicious gossip with the unashamed motive of fucking with the querent’s life.
They will be different for you but there will still be certain points in the reading that you know warrant further explanation. You owe it to the querent -whether the card is good or bad- to go deeper.
A lot of books will tell you to pull more cards from the deck as a ‘further explanation’ of the context of a particular placement.
There’s some risk in this approach. Essentially you’re asking the universe to send you another complete email except that you have now removed ten or twelve keys from Her keyboard.
So it’s probably best to make the call as to whether the issue raised by the card warrants a full ‘reboot’ using the current deck or whether you need to ‘nest’ your divination.
In the case of the Eight of Swords I drop down to one of the Sibilla decks as it’s absolutely the best tool for getting a clear picture of malicious gossip and backstabbing.
Nested divinations involve scaling up or down on the Rider scale depending on the quality of the card you are using as your entry point.
For me at least they seem to work best if your nested spread involves less cards than your originating spread. (I pretty much use the Celtic Cross for everything due mostly to laziness/expedience, and a five to seven card spread for secondary readings.) If you do ‘full’ spreads for nested divinations you run the risk of overly complicating rather than clarifying things. Plus, if you’re new, you already have a tendency to throw repeated spreads until you get the answer you want.
Typically you’re likely to only jump down one Rider or two, but again this is dependent on your entry card. Some of the oracles beyond -2R relate to finding ‘treasure’ and such. Conceivably that would jump you to an extremely positive deck.
It’s a common observation among magical folk that it’s always difficult to choose which oracle system to go with as we all (admit it) have an unstoppable addiction to acquiring more and more of them. (Because they’re awesome.)
Nesting your divinations goes some way to alleviating that anxiety of choice:
- Pick an oracle system with a balanced emotional range that you feel comfortable with or drawn to.
- Move up and down the Riders in decreasing spread sizes depending on which cards throw up an entry point.
Granted this is a little unwieldy if you are reading professionally. In most cases I’d suggest finishing the initial spread and going for a quick reboot. But if it’s either for you or a situation with less time pressure then nesting really is the way to go.