Australian Wildflower Reading Cards Reviews
The Australian Wildflower Reading Cards is a deck based on traditional flower reading, providing guidance through native Australian flower imagery and oracle teachings. This is the updated, mass-market edition of a previously self-published Australian Wildflower Oracle.
Oracle Deck - 44 Cards - Rockpool Publishing 2014
Review by Thomas Freese
Fresh as a flower and just as vibrant, the colorful 44 cards of the Australian Wildflower Reading Cards are reproduced well from hand-crafted ink prints that have been painted with colors. Cheralyn Darcey is both the book writer and illustrator for these refreshing images. The cards are sturdy yet flexible in use, somewhat large at 3 ¾ x 5 ½ inches with rounded corners. They shuffle well and the Flannel Flower card back design is pretty although not distracting when drawing cards. There are no strictly delineated meanings for reversals, with advice for each theme providing both harmonious and challenging aspects smoothly transitioned in a paragraph or two.
The text is wonderfully simple and well organized, with references to the author’s oracle website for additional information, such as suggested spreads beyond the main spreads noted. Each card appears in the text alphabetically by the flower name, thus eliminating a need for card numbering, and making looking up the card and meaning by flower name very easy.
The card graphics are cheerful and bright without being garish. Certainly, nature provides flowers in an abundant spectrum of colors and many hues are represented in a fairly faithful manner. That is, it is course the artist rendition and not a “stuffy botanical” if you will. The energy of the artist—and her love for flowers and what they might signify as our teachers and companions—definitely comes through with a beneficial and nurturing feeling.
The core meanings connect with our own heartfelt journey of ups and downs; despite the cheerful ambiance of the art, there are real issues touched upon. A sampling of some of these card meanings include: Resolve, Overcoming, Direction, Partnership, Survival, Faith, Joy, Healing and Forgiveness. The latter card lesson, Forgiveness, is no small life skill indeed.
Cheralyn notes on page 11 of the text that the cards can well serve as a springboard for additional study, beyond the divinatory use; by the second day of playing with this deck I had to get online and see the actual photographs of the flowers and bushes. This helped me in terms of education per se, and also was instrumental in tuning into the flower energetic essence by itself and as it appears as a plant in its environment.
In fact, offering these cards overseas might be a very smart selling strategy to draw folks to visit Australia and have a chance to hike about—seeing these amazing living creatures in person. This deck comes in an attractive magnetic -closing flip over lid box, and the price is reasonable. The bright red Waratah flower bloom shows off the box top and front cover of the text. The book is modest size, 4 ¾ inch x 7 ¼ inch and 3/8 inch thick. The Australian Wildflower Reading Cards are a delightful companion for finding wisdom with the questions and conundrums we face on our journey.
Interview with Cheralyn Darcy
Thomas: I was intrigued when reading your book Foreword, where you mentioned encountering the Lady of the Flowers. Would you like to share more about that experience and how it connects with the wisdom of the Australian Wildflower Reading Cards? Also you talked about how flowers provided a warning; could you please talk about one or two instances that illustrate that effect?
Cheralyn: I know many people often recount experiences of angels and divine entities that visit them and ‘give’ them information. This was not the case at all and I’m glad to have a little opportunity to expand. I feel it was a Guide or perhaps an aspect of myself or some sort of connection through time that was giving me a hand, a shake-up, a bit of illumination and even a big firm nudge to get up off the ground and do the work—to do it MYSELF. Up until this moment it was as if all I saw and felt was viewed through a misty lens. I would often give up very easily when it came to my passion for art and for learning more about nature. I would find it hard to talk with people, not just about these things but really anything I was interested in. I left school very young when I was not yet 16 years of age and found my fascination for science, botany, art, gardening and mythology very hard at times to follow myself due to lack of resources or people who shared common interests. After this experience though I just looked more closely, I became more aware and I was incredibly more confident about my passions and interests.
Thomas: How does this experience connect with the wisdom of the Australian Wildflower Reading Cards?
Well these are the flowers of the land of my birth, my childhood and my life. I have such a deep respect and love for this land, the people and protecting both that I personally was driven to create these first. For me the flowers of my home introduced me to the world of flowers and plants. Perhaps they may do that for others, to me they seemed to want to be out there for you all. Australian Flowers are incredibly powerful and they are really only known for their flower essence healing qualities, not so much for their meanings and messages. Though these are found to be entwined at times, I don’t think most people really stop to consider Australian Flowers as a having meanings, messages or even divination connections.
Nature warns us all the time. Because we have forgotten the Language of Nature, we don’t hear her until she is screaming at us. Why would Nature, flowers, even care and why do they have messages for us all? Well think of the way certain plants have slowly adapted over time to attract the pollinators which they find assist them the best. They create something the pollinator wants, but it is something that is useful, it is usually something that somewhere else in Nature, it serves a valuable purpose. Nectar becomes honey, becomes part of a chain that enables Nature to survive. If we know the Language of Nature, then we know what is ‘normal’ we know what should be flowering, we know what is usual for our area, we even know what alien plants, what weeds are not really so unusual. If we were to see a Sunflower growing through the snow I think most of us would know that was very unusual and a sign of something incredibly ‘wrong’. You may think it a good sign but I’m sure that if you are connected with Nature, you realize that this is just not right, so there is a warning there. It’s an indication to take notice. The flower that blooms out of season; the flower you never knew about but is constantly in your life through overheard conversations, images, seeing it on walks, gifted to you; the flower you dream of. All these things are messages and they can be warnings.
To illustrate this theme…I parked my car in an area of Sydney that is very busy. As I left the car, I looked up and smiled as I saw a huge bottlebrush tree was almost brushing the roof of my car. I was busy and parking is very hard to find in this area. As I rushed off I thought, “Well I really need to clear something away as I’ve never noticed a tree that big with that many bright red flowers… Hmmm now where is that place I need to hurry to?” Now Bottlebrush tree is connected with cleansing and clearing. It means an inability to move and an upheaval as well. I came back and someone had hit my car and left it. There was a lot of damage too I couldn't move it. If only I had of listened to Nature! I was too busy in amongst the buildings, the people, the rushing of my modern life.
Flowers, by their very character are connected with emotional energy and they give this out because they use it for themselves, for their environment and they send it out to attract those who will ensure their survival—us. We are attracted to Flowers because they make us feel something. We are repelled by some too for the very same reasons. In days past, we would have all looked at why that was and worked on that. These days, we turn our noses up and even mock what we don’t like in a flower. We don’t stop and think WHY that is? It’s because we don’t understand the language anymore.
Thomas: How many prints or separate versions of each card went into the effort of completing a card image for the publisher?
Cheralyn: I print three. Out of the three I decide which is the best as an image to keep for the unpainted version, which is the best to be painted (this will become the card image) and the other I use to work out my palette. I don’t print more, I hate waste and really I’ve never needed to. The image I use for the pallet color work, I then use along with all the others in large flower based collages on canvas. Last year one such artwork was a finalist in a major Sydney Environmental Art Prize and was invited to be hung in one of our Libraries during National Recycling Week.
Thomas: How long did the process of creating this set of cards take?
Cheralyn: My life up until now. Seriously, to give you the physical time from start to finish, it really was about 10 years. I tried different mediums, life and other projects would often get in the way too. Then about 4 years ago I set my heart on linocut and paint and I was set. I’ve just completed my second deck which will be released in Australia this coming September and because I now am now free to completely concentrate on my work, it took 18 months from conception to finish. There was an overlap though as I work on other titles now at the same time. If I’m in an area and working with certain types of plants, well they may be for different decks or books.
Thomas: Were many or most of the wildflowers in your immediate area? Did you have to travel farther for some other flowers in order to see and sketch them?
Cheralyn: I live in an area of Sydney, Australia, blessed with so many wildflowers. Two huge National Parks on my doorstep but it’s a big country and not everything grows here. I sourced perhaps three quarters of this deck from my local area. I have always been fascinated with flowers and plants and I keep sketchbooks and I photograph constantly. I think I have more photos of flowers and trees than my children through the years! Some of the source images are from very old journals and albums of mine. I’m also very grateful for our Botanical Gardens and here I’ve been helped immensely with information and resources.
Thomas: Did you consider providing meanings for card reversals, or were the issues and options for meanings inclusive of sufficient possibilities, and thus no need to set up a separate set of meanings?
Cheralyn: I don’t think it is necessary to read reversals of the flowers at all. I would not read the flowers in reversal in Nature. I would listen and observe all of the meanings and apply them to my situation. Floramancy (which is what this deck is based on) is Traditional Flower Reading and this deck is simply an extension, a way of having the flowers with you and reading at all times. I didn't think in this deck it was necessary to include the challenging meaning separately as I thought, as you suggested, that there are sufficient possibilities in the meanings. In my next decks, I have actually made it a little clearer for people with a distinct separation for ease of use with the guidebook. I’ve also been given the opportunity of an expanded word count.
Thomas: Did the Flannel Flower visually suggest a sort of mild background to the card backs (versus something more brilliant or showy)?
Cheralyn: I thought the Flannel Flower perfect as I find that a calm and gentle approach is the best way to begin when connecting with Nature. This is the overall energy of Flannel Flower. It is a very healing, calming quiet flower. I think for a deck of cards the back image is incredibly important and as the Australian flowers can be very strong and even confronting for many. Flannel Flower is a caring and comforting friend to lead people into their world.
Thomas: Is there a connection between the card meanings and flower remedy information? For example, the Mulla Mulla flower card meaning seems to match well with information given for that flower essence.
Cheralyn: The true meanings and messages of flowers are all based on the colors, the shapes, the forms and lives of each type of flower and plant. This is known as the Doctrine of Signatures or the Language of Flowers or the Language of Nature. It is the source knowledge for all plant work and we all know this language. We have simply forgotten it. The further away we move from Nature, the more we lose its language. We don't grow our food; we don't feel the weather on our skins all the time. Most of us don’t even know what actually our local native plants are anymore. This Language is how we knew and how those that live still closely with the land know, what plants are foods, which heal us and which may harm us.
Flower Essences are created using this knowledge. If the person creating the Flower Essence is using this source knowledge and observing Botany and understanding what is here before them, then the meanings should be similar.
I have had people ask me if they can use these cards with various Flower Essences and the answer is yes. Always go to the creator of the essence first and seek their complete information on the creation of their particular essence because there will be subtle additional meanings due to the timing of the creation and other personal factors that go into Essence Creation but you may certainly find a use for these cards in learning more about the flowers themselves and having an additional reference and guide. I have found people are using the cards in the selection of essences and that they find cards of essences they are using ‘come up’ for them. I created these cards from real flowers I met. What you see is what I saw and experienced and so the energy will connect back with the family of each flower.
Thomas’s first tarot deck in 1979 was a Christmas gift from his mother. Thomas is an experienced tarot and palm reader. He also reads from objects and photos. In addition he has authored 10 books on metaphysical topics and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.