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Cover of the deck.

One of the decks in my growing collection is The Literary Witches Oracle Deck, written by Taisia Kitaiskaia and illustrated by Katy Horan. This 70-card deck includes females in literary history, as well as the materials needed for spell work, or in my case for items to assist in the interpretation of the spread. The cards fit into a sturdy paper box. This is a beautiful deck and supplements any tarot and oracle collection.

Oracle decks differ from traditional tarot decks, which are generally confined to 78 cards and resemble today’s playing cards. Tarot cards were initially created for game playing. Oracle decks are usually themed. They can be character-based, topical, or a combination. Like tarot cards, their size varies.

Oracle decks aren’t new, with an early example dating back to the Coffee Ground Cards, a 1796 deck housed in the British Museum archives. This deck incorporated images with explanations. As the nickname of the deck suggests, these cards were to be used in conjunction with coffee ground reading, where the grounds left in the cup were examined and a prophecy elicited from the images perceived along the sides and bottom of the white cup. It is similar to reading tea leaves. The decks have evolved over the centuries.

Oracle decks are incredibly popular. They’re easier to use. For instance, someone can pull a card a day for inspiration and guidance. There are angel decks and religious, predominately Christian, decks that appeal to those who fear or avoid tarot decks. (Yes, the hypocrisy is real.)

As with tarot decks, oracle decks have become collectible. I’ve got a mix of oracle and tarot decks in my collection. I was drawn to this deck due to the female literary characters. The women are international and quite diverse. The deck came from Taisia’s book, Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers (2017). Taisia “reimagines 30 female authors as true witches: not hooked-nosed creatures riding on brooms, but figures of radical creativity, originality, and empowerment.” The 40 additional cards enhance the deck.

As 2020 finally ends and 2021 begins, I did a 4-card spread with the deck.

  1. My current situation is María Sabina, Healing.
  2. I need to be more like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Freedom, to get me through 2021.
  3. The Noose is holding me back.
  4. I need to shed the House to move forward.

Interpretations: Honestly, this was a pretty good spread. I continue my treatment from breast cancer and am healing. María Sabina Magdalena García (1894-1985) was a shaman who wrote poetry. She was a Mexican healer known as the “priestess of mushrooms,” her preferred hallucinogenic.

I am expanding “The Haunted Librarian” in 2021, and the second card is incredibly fitting. Charlotte Anna Perkins Stetson Gilman (1860-1935) was a feminist writer who believed that “domestic mythology” (stereotypical role of the female to keep the house and perform the chores) had to be shattered in order for women to be liberated. Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), which is considered an important piece of early feminist literature.

The Noose signifies anxiety and self-sabotage. I suffer from perfectionism. This is a warning that I need to organize and understand the concept of completion over perfection.

The final card is also apropos. My daughter is heading off to college next year, and I’ve got house envy. I would love to downsize and be more spontaneous in where I reside. Another meaning may be that I have left traditional employment and am focusing more on my writing and radio show. Who knows!  

I’m satisfied with the spread. Likewise, I acknowledge that I am reading a lot into the symbolism. As I shed 2020, along with everything the year brought, I’m okay being optimistic about 2021. I want 2021 to be positive and inspiring. I think we all need it to be.