by Travis Sanders
Most people know me as a psychic and a spiritual medium, however one of my passions I don’t often speak on is divination, specifically cartomancy, or card reading.
Even though when I work with clients I don’t use tools, I used to be a card-o-holic. I had more decks than you could shake a stick at. And to be honest with you, most of them didn’t do much for me, save being beautiful and appreciating the artwork.
However I have come to find several decks that I often use for reading for myself, adore and wish to share with you.
The Oracle Playing Cards by Dead on Paper
While I do not consider myself an adept in the least with reading traditional playing cards….I try. Plain old playing card decks seem lifeless and personality-less to me. They don’t speak to me, yet I was determined to find playing cards with personality. Thats when I came across the Dead on Paper Oracle playing cards.
Being a Spiritualist I adore the fact that Victorian Style Spiritualist imagery is used in the deck. The inverse black and white color scheme gives the deck an edge and the back of the cards look like a Spirit Board. The attention to detail with this deck is superb and highly recommended, simply to be appreciated or used for divination.
Old Style Conjure Reading Cards
Mama Starr is a teacher of mine in the practices of folk magic. Often times playing card reading (along with bone reading) is traditional divination in that practice. It took me awhile to connect with these cards, but once I did they gave voice to the ancestors loud and clear.
These aren’t the type of deck that I find work for me in the sense of using spreads and layouts. They look like playing cards, with a parchment style background adorned with roosters, and on each card is a small blurb or statement of wisdom or spiritual instruction. Two actually, so if a card comes up reversed, there inverse meaning is made clear
I keep these cards on my ancestral altar, and pull one each morning while giving daily offerings to my ancestors and refreshing their altar.
The Universal Tarot
It’s been a journey for me to try to find a tarot deck I really connect with. Im a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to tarot. I don’t like many of the contemporary or “themed” decks which often deviate from the traditional symbols, imagery and archetypes put forth by Waite. I think Waite got it right. The traditional color, symbolism, imagery, and archetypes of the tarot are so on point, and can unlock to much information, however I am not a fan of the traditional Rider-Waite deck for one simple reason; the bold outlines and intensity of the colors, mostly the primary colors, specifically the excessive use of yellow, are too intense for my taste and almost assaulting to the eyes as you see in the image below.
The Universal tarot, and Universal Waite deck holds the integrity of the traditional imagery and colors without but it a more subdued toned, and are slightly more detailed and overall “prettier” without deviating from the core symbolism.
The Enchanted Tarot by Zerner-Faber
While this deck portrays its own interpretation of the imagery, I do love this deck. It’s small (I hate when cards are too big) colorful, and from an artistic standpoint I love the tapestry-vibe of the artwork. There are slight deviations from the traditional suits, for example the cups in this deck are hearts, and the court cards lack pages, and knights, but instead contain princes and princesses, however, I find these cards communicative in a variety of ways.
Master of Magic Oracle Cards
This card deck isn’t very big, in both size and number of cards. But I adore them. They Are simple, each card containing a “master,” symbol and a word. I found these cards at an expo and hadn’t seen them before and haven’t seen them anywhere since. What I love most about these cards is that the ‘masters” they chose are not new agey or what you would expect. There are scientists, alchemists, greek philosophers, ceremonial magicians, and as a Spiritualist I was pleased to see depictions of William Stanton Moses, D.D Home, Edgar Cayce, Anton Mesmer, and Allan Kardec.
Akashic Tarot by Sharon Klingler & Sandra Taylor
The Akashic Tarot is truly one of my favorite decks. A Contemporary take on the tarot; this deck is like a perfect balance between traditional tarot and the more modern oracle card deck. Consisting of both Major and Minor Arcana, this deck deviates from traditional imagery, which usually I don’t enjoy, but with this deck it works powerfully. You can feel how much intention and detail went into this deck, and those familiar with traditional tarot will see the parallels in the archetypes and use of symbolism. Instead of cups, wands, swords, and pentacles, we have 4 suits of Keys, Scrolls, Hearts, and Forces. The artwork on this deck is stuuuuuunnnnniiiiinggggg! These cards speak! They get to the heart of the issue in a user friendly way, and truly have an energy about them you have to experience to understand.
Energy Oracle Cards By Sandra A Taylor
This is my hands down favorite deck. Period. I dont often find oracle cards that I like. Most of them are hokey, themed, or give too much for your own interpretation, or contain stock images and generic words, giving them little life or personality- But this deck gets it right. Even though its not a tarot deck, like its sister the Akashic Tarot, users will find many cards that a reminiscent of traditional tarot. For Example the Lady Holding a Coin is clearly very similar to the Queen of Pentacles, and so on. This deck has beautiful and detailed artwork without being too busy. Each card contains a word or two that gives you enough to know the essence of the card, without limiting your own intuition to interpret and divine. This deck simply makes sense, and anyone learning to read cards should really start with this deck if they are intimidated by traditional tarot.
The last deck I wish to touch on is…
The Ancestors and Angels Oracle by Kyle Gray
I’ll be frank, angel stuff isn’t really my bag. Angel cards don’t do much for me as a whole. However I adore this deck. Working in a metaphysical shop I see all the decks that come and go, and this one actually caught my eye when Kyle Gray started teasing imagery on Instagram before it was officially released. Firstly, Lily Moses’ artwork is stunningly beautiful. Some of the most beautiful hand-paintings I’ve seen in any deck of cards.
Secondly, I was hungry to get my hands on this deck (which Kyle very kindly gifted to me) because those who know me know ancestral work, ancestry and ancestral veneration are very important to me on a spiritual path.
Even though, I guess technically you could call this an angel deck, I love that it focuses more on ancestors than imagery of angels or archangels, and the angels that are portrayed in this deck are called “guardians,” which I prefer.
Something about this deck that I truly appreciate and adore is that never have I before seen such cultural, age and ethnic diversity portrayed in a deck. There are depictions of young and old, Arabic, Icelandic, Native American, Egyptian, African, Celtic, and all people of all races and countries and spiritual paths in between; and not in a white-washed way! There are true people of color in this deck!
The only thing about this deck that I personally don’t connect with very strongly are several cards that look like a circle or drumhead with certain symbols on them like the bee, wolf, or seasons.
While I find them beautiful, to me they feel slightly out of place. Perhaps if there were more of them, but they were so different and few compared to the stunning portraits that fill most of the deck, that to me they felt slightly out of place, or like a mini deck within a pre-existing deck. BUT THATS OKAY!
As cartomancers you’re aloud to not use every card. You can remove ones that don’t speak to you or even mix different decks together! The only limitation you have are the ones you place on yourself!
So these are my card recommendations! What are some decks that you recommend!?