Review by Stephanie Lynch
These cards were gifted to me. The night I got them a group of us drew from the deck and passed the book around to read the meanings of the cards we had drawn. They are not like some oracular devices where nearly anything you read can be applied to you. These really struck at the heart of each and every person there.
These are definitely not Tarot and don't pretend to be like some other oracle decks. Each card is a link to some image or animal from the Australian Aboriginal mythology. The artwork is indicative of this as well. The color scheme is very dramatic in tans, browns, reds, blacks and whites as well as some blues and greens. Each image is drawn in the aboriginal style which is to say it is very stylized. The images appeal to me because I've long had an interest in this particular art style.
The cards are round, but there is a dot at the 12 o'clock position so you can easily identify which way your tilt is going. I am not fond of round cards and will simply put them right again. But these cards have interpretations that deal with the tilt so it is worth it to dig into their meanings.
While I have done readings for others with this deack, I find it to be more useful personally as a meditation tool. The meanings given in the book strip away sentimentality and are fairly hard hitting. Some will find this offputting, I'm sure. I crave it so I do enjoy this deck. With only 45 cards in this deck, it was a joy to see that the author did not try to fit this system into the 78 cards of the Tarot.
I particularly enjoyed that each card has a story attached to it. Reading the story does enrich the readings done with these cards as there is always a lesson in the tale. Typical of any teaching tale, you come away with both positive and negative. One such story is the tale of the Southern Cross -- card number 7. In it we are told that "the Great Spirit provided them with plenty of bush tucker and living water". The three original humans are told not to eat meat. Of course two of them break that and one doesn't. The one that doesn't is carried off to be a part of the Southern Cross. So this card is about Death and Rebirth.
For me, the lesson here is that those who broke the law were allowed to stay and live in the harsh realms of the Australian outback but the one who obeyed, died and became a constellation. I'm still not sure who got the better part of that deal!
I do recommend this deck to anyone who is interested in Australian Aboriginal culture or in oracle decks. Do not get this if you want another Tarot deck. You will not be happy. If you enjoy intriguing decks that will lead you on an intimate personal journey, then I can easily recommend this deck for you. I also must say that you will need the book unless you are an expert in Australian Aboriginal myth. The book is an awkward size that is more in line with trade publications than a paperback, but you have 176 pages of good information including indices with useful correspondences.
Published author and professional Tarot reader,
Stephanie Arwen Lynch loves decks. She is a past editor of
the American Tarot Association and has served as the
ATA's Board president. She reads on the ATA's Free Tarot
Network as well as mentors. Arwen also produces a
Tarotscope podcast for monthly horoscopes that read a card
Review by Petrina
As a person keenly interested in Australian Aboriginal ethnology, I
can give a glowing review to this particular deck. The artists who
contributed their work (and there are several) are all of Aboriginal or
part-Aboriginal ancestry. This fact alone says volumes: the Aboriginal
peoples do not take their spirituality lightly. The author of The Oracle of
the Dreamtime, herself a teacher of Aboriginal culture in New South Wales,
addresses Aboriginal cultural heritage and spirituality with profound
understanding and respect. You can also be assured that the "legends"
recounted in the text-guide are also authentic retellings of particular
Dreamings, those past-present-future living histories of the land.
The words "Dreamings" and "Dreamtime" are feeble translations into English
of a deep, conceptual unity with the surrounding world, words which fail to
convey the sense of ecology which is so uniquely Aboriginal, itself a key
point in the symbolism of the Oracle. I would therefore suggest that any
person wishing to become proficient with this deck initially make an
in-depth study of the First Australians. Fundamental understanding of a
spirituality very different from any other in either Eastern of Western
culture is critical to proper use of the cards.
A characteristic of these cards which I find particularly edifying lies in
their circular shape. Although shuffling them at first seems awkward, the
reader will soon be rewarded with greater coloration in any given reading.
The slightest change in orientation provides pinpoint accuracy as one card
impinges on the indications of another. The suggested layouts are also
uniquely Australian, and here again a working knowledge of Aboriginal social
structure is beneficial.
If nothing else, these cards will direct you to a broader personal
world-view as you research the Earth's oldest culture! Perhaps therein lies
See sample card images from the Oracle of the Dreamtime
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