Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The “Anubis Oracle” is a 35 card oracle deck from Bear & Company – one of my all time favorite publishers. (I just had to say that somewhere in this review!) It is based on the Egyptian pantheon and mythology, and acts as a guide to the inner mysteries of Egypt. It is presented as being closely related to an ancient pre-tarot paradigm. From the 165 page companion book:
“Any divination tool is only as good as the diviner, for the one who is divining makes the connections and interprets what the cards or other devices are showing. As above, so below; as without, so within; when you read and interpret from any outer manifestation, this deck included, the results will mirror and reflect your inner world and the energies you bring to the table.”
Here the oracle is presented as the key to the unconscious mind, and the outward manifestation of a rich, invisible world – the world of the neteru (gods). We are guided on this journey by Anubis, the jackal god, into both the use of this deck and understanding the world of the neteru.
The creation process for this deck was a bit unusual: to create this oracle, the authors had to “become” the oracle. Although they live on opposite sides of the continent, teacher, healer, and author Nicki Scully (“Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt”, “Alchemical Healing”, “Power Animal Meditations”) and ritualist and ceremonial facilitator Linda Star Wolf (“Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt”) were able to manage this process over the phone. Working together, Star Wolf channeled the information, while Nicki assisted in the channeling process (acting as a catalyst and “anchor”), and transcribed it.
Together they worked in a sacred manner, using ritual, smudging, and invoking the neteru that wished to be involved. I especially liked the description of what Star Wolf often sees – a swirling vortex that looks like a nebula, or galaxy, complete with what appears to be astral debris. By focusing on the center of this world, Star Wolf is able to see the process that they are studying unfolding. Here, things are beyond the rational, beyond explaining – they simply are.
The translation from printed word to illustration is the work of renowned illustrator, author, and designer Kris Waldherr (the “Goddess Inspiration Oracle”, the “Lover’s Path Tarot”, and the “Goddess Tarot”). The imagery is extraordinary – her work comes from her heart, and that creative genius that lives in that “invisible” land.
Anubis, the prince of peace, is the overseer of this deck. He has the inner peace and calmness to guide individuals through the oracular process, and make contact with whatever neteru are needed. He is loyal, compassionate, and has a great sense of understanding.
In the section on how to use this oracle, the first thing that we are told is to approach the oracle with respect and reverence. The cards themselves are not sacred – they are tools to help us discover the path we are on, and the changes that we may wish to make in our life. The suggestion is made to keep the cards in a special pouch or container (or wrapped in a cloth that can be used as a spread cloth for readings). It is noted that readings can be done in a solo manner, or for groups.
Anubis is the guide, and highest presence in this deck. It is advised to take him out of the deck, and set him above the cards that appear in a reading. It is also suggested that one of the first things that a reader do with this deck is to ask for their own personal guide to come forward.
In getting to know the archetypes, it is advised that you spend time with each archetype before moving on so that you really do begin to understand them. It is also suggested that you take the journey with each archetype that is presented in “Shamanic Mysteries of Egypt”. With this book the reader can take the journeys and initiations and meditating with each card.
In this deck, Anubis, as overseer, is numbered 0 (Zero), (as is the Fool in the Tarot). Cards 0-21 represent archetypal principles, as in the Tarot. Cards 22-25 represent the elder neteru, and the four elements (Fire, Water, Air, and Earth). The elemental cards do not appear as either people or animals. The composite cards (I-VIII) show the combination of energies that specific neteru bring together. They function somewhat as does the Minor Arcana in the Tarot, as they represent the principles at play in the life of the Seeker.
Each card is presented with a black and white scan, their title, a description of their energy, and the gifts that they offer us. For example, Anubis is entitled Opener of the Way, and his gift is that of protecting and guiding us. The four elemental cards describe their elemental qualities, and how their energy can be put to use in our life. The composite cards include a description of the card’s energy, and how it is reflected in the Seeker’s life.
Several layouts are presented, including the three card Entering The Mystery spread, the five card Sacred Relationship spread, the ten card Cosmic Influences spread, the four card Tree of Life spread, the six card Higher Love and Wisdom spread, the twelve card Right Timing and Direction spread, the four card Sacred Purpose spread, and the five card Alchemy spread. Sample readings are also presented.
The cards themselves are approximately 3 ¼” by 5 ¼”, of high quality, glossy card stock. The backs have a dark orange/red border, with a yellow background. In the middle of the card is a stylized Egyptian eye in dark gold. Above that we see what appears to be three flowers.
The face of the cards shows a dark blue border, with the number of he card and the name of the neteru (god) on the top in gold, and the title in smaller letters in white across the bottom. The elemental cards show the card number and elemental representation in gold across the top, with the element across the bottom in smaller white letters. The composite cards show the energy across the top in gold, with the name of the neteru that make up the composite across the bottom in smaller white letters.
The artwork for this deck is stunning – very stylized Egyptian. The colors are intense, and in the primary range – green, orange/red, yellow, brown, and white/gray.
Anubis is portrayed as a human figure with a black jackal head. In the middle of his chest we see an orange/red heart. To his right we see a snake wound around the limbs of what appears to be an apple tree. Behind his head we see a full moon, and to the left above his head we see a white dove.
In Wadjet we see a yellow snake, with a stylized Egyptian eye below the head. There is an orange symbol resting on the snakes head that I cannot identify. The Pyramid, representing the element of Earth, is literally a gold pyramid, with a rainbow behind it, and green grass and palm trees to the right and front.
Nephthys (The High Priestess) shows a female figure in a white robe, her left arm pointing towards earth, and her right arm held up to the sky, holding a palm leaf. There is a quarter moon and stars in the night sky behind her.
Amun-Ra, representing solar energies, shows a figure in a gold robe, facing the right hand side of the card, his right hand holding a staff with an ankh symbol on top and a snake curved around the staff. His left hand is raised to the sky, and he wears a high gold crown with layers of color above it (green, blue, yellow, orange/red, blue, yellow, an orange/red. Behind his head is a gold circle representing a full sun.
The box deck and cards come in is an envelope style, with a black insert that pulls out, an inset space for the cards, and the companion book placed over it. The main part of the box has a vibrant yellow background, with deck information on the back, with the Anubis on the front.
There is a site devoted to this oracle at www.theanubisoracle.com. Here all 35 cards are shown, with a discussion of each card. There is also a free online three card reading available – which blew me away when I did a reading for myself!
I found this deck to be quite in-depth, and appreciated the respect that the authors and the artist gave it. If you have any interest in Egyptian mythology, or the Egyptian pantheon at all, this is an excellent source to help you work with them.
© October 2008
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.