After creating my Creatures Oracle deck, I found the question I was asked the most (aside from what IS an oracle deck) was how to use it. I hope this short post will help people with those two questions. For these examples, I'll be using photos of my own personal deck, taken without fuss on my paint-stained kitchen table. While I believe there is a time and a place for very thoughtful, curated, energy-cleaned spaces, I also think it is important to remember we are still just people plonking along our complicated lives and spiritual things just don't have to be fussy. Wherever you are, with whatever you have, is fine.
So, what IS an oracle deck? Essentially it is a tool. To meditate, to find meaning in a situation, to get clarity about the past present or future. To soothe, to be curious, to journal, to study. To break up thought patterns and offer fresh insight or perspective. To help someone else do that same.
Oracle decks don't have "rules" as such, not like what you might think of with a tarot deck. Oracle decks can be about anything, in any format, with any number of cards. Some have very long printed messages on them, some have only images. Some, like mine, balance between those styles. Some will have quotes or prayers, or details about certain angels or saints or cats or storm patterns. Infinite possibilities, really. It means you have a universe of options when choosing a deck. Find something that piques your interest, that's all. Then see how you get along with it.
Below are 5 ways I use oracle decks, although there are many more. The key is intuition. Always, always... intuition. These cards help you listen to yourself, and get to know your inner You better. For those who don't feel like they can create their own ways to use the decks yet, these suggestions will get you going.
Keep in mind: People always say to feel grounded and cleanse the area energetically before starting. But that isn't always possible... and in fact I don't think it is always a good idea. If I'm sobbing, and want some friendly insight, I'm not going to wait until I've calmed down to go to my deck. My deck is what would help me calm down. These cards are your friends. You'll come to them in many moods, in many stages of learning. The journey of it all is the best part.
1. A SINGLE BLIND PULL
Make sure the deck is shuffled. Turn the deck upside down, or hold it upside down in your hands. The key is to not know what the cards are. If you use crystals, you can use a suitable one keep the deck company for a little while before you start, but it isn't necessary. As best you can, quiet your mind and pause your thoughts, and focus yourself on the cards. At this point, I ask a question, one simple question, that I want perspective on. I might say it out loud, I might just think it. Questions include ones like "What should I think about today" and "What could help me shift my feelings right now" and "What do I need to hear". Then I'll pull a card, turn it over, and often I'll journal about it. I'll write down what I asked and what the card was. Sometimes it takes a while to make sense, but there's always insight there. It will always make you think. And sometimes a little nudge is all we need as we navigate our day. I don't always journal, sometimes this whole process takes seconds. It depends on my mood, my circumstances, and what I'm after. A quick word, or some deep thinking. The deck provides all of that.
2. A SINGLE VISIBLE PULL
This is essentially the same process, but instead of relying completely on random forces to guide you to a card, you let your eyes help. With the same question in your mind, with that same basic idea, you shuffle the cards in your hand until one makes sense to focus on. The colours will attract you, or the image... maybe the word itself. You're letting your senses help you more with this one, but the outcome is essentially the same. With journalling or with thought, you take that card and keep it as your spiritual context for a while. You see how it fits with your circumstances as they unfold throughout the day. You think of the word, and what it could mean for you. You make your own sense of it, as your intuition starts to flex its muscles more and the messages become stronger.
3. WHEN YOU ALREADY KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
This is helpful when you have one very overwhelming feeling that you're managing, and there's a card to match it. I did this exercise a few weeks ago when I was so overwhelmed with commitments and tasks that I couldn't see straight. I went to my commitment card, and sat with it. I wanted something in depth for this, so I made a fuss about incense and quiet space and crystals etc... but again that's just adding extra layers onto something that doesn't always need layers. So don't worry if that all feels complicated and ridiculous. Just take the card, and sit with it.
I see this card in very different lights, depending on my mood. It can look bleak, with a tired creature trudging up a path, knowing the biggest efforts (the mountains) are yet to come. It can feel joyless, perhaps making us ask ourselves if the things taking our energy are actually worth it. To prioritise, perhaps. Another way to read it is incredibly positive. Creature is steadfast, focused on a path, knowing its commitments and efforts are taking it to a place of strength (the mountains) and ultimately the bright hopeful sun in the distance. It could be saying that these efforts are worth it, with a beautiful reward in sight. When I pulled this card a few weeks ago, I essentially asked myself which interpretation felt the best. Was it worth it? Was I wasting my time? And I journalled a long, thought entry, picking apart what was at the core of my feelings. At the end of it, I felt like I knew what to do, and had a way out of the chaotic feeling.
4. WHEN YOU ARE FEELING EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE
Essentially the opposite of the last exercise, this is useful for helping you find out what you're feeling. When there's a storm of emotion running your mind body and heart, and you can't pinpoint the core of any of it. This exercise helps you create a sort of hierarchy of emotion, with the cards helping you visually sort through it all. The idea is to take the deck and quickly flip through it, taking out every card that represents how you feel. There will be a lot, probably, and some will conflict. You could be feeling hope at the same time as fear, for instance. But go through, without much thinking, and pull out everything that feels relevant. Then lay them out on a table, and have a think. You'll see pretty clearly that there may be patterns to it, or that some of those feelings are asking for more attention than others.
What I then do, is start to discard the cards that don't feel as strong. I'm looking for simplicity here, I'd like to end up with just one or two cards in the end that represent the biggest of the hurricane of Feels in my head. I'll ask myself How Am I Feeling, each time I go through what I've laid down. I may end up looking at those Fear and Hope cards again, and decide actually the hope I'm feeling is quite small and normal, but the fear is very loud indeed. So I'll put hope away, and keep fear. Eventually I'll end up with a very small number of cards that have calmed me down by helping me visually sort through things. I'm very, very visual - and this helps me visualise a storm of feelings that actually can be pared down into 2 or 3 themes. And 2 or 3 feelings is WAY easier to make sense of, than 20 or 30. Whether I journal or not, this process makes me feel less chaotic just in doing it. It gives me a tool to create context for whats going on inside.
5. PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE
This will look familiar to people who have a little more experience with tarot decks. This is a very common way to read cards for other people, but also works for ourselves. It requires a bit more time and thought, but sometimes that's exactly what we need. Sometimes it won't make sense, like a game of Connect The Dots missing some dots, but in the end there's always a message to it. If you don't have any friends who are into oracle cards (or tarot), then it could be helpful to find a community on the internet where you can get insight from other people on what a small spread like this might mean. With that in mind, remember you know your Self the best, and your insight is what matters most. Oracle cards help you exercise your intuition muscles, and help quiet unhelpful second guessing. So for this pull, you would shuffle the cards, have them upside down so you can't see the faces, and put your question/intention out there. You're looking for the insight into your past, present, and future circumstances that you need right now.
I used the above image because it is not straightforward. This is one that would make me pause, and really think about how this might fit what I need right now. However I interpret it will be right, of course, even though it could change. These three cards might bring about an entirely different train of thought in six months time. But for now, my interpretation was essential this. My past said LISTEN. So I sat and basically thought about me in the past, and I was immediately taken to a certain time in my past that I'd been going over with my therapist. I sat and listened, like looking over a classroom of small loud children and trying to hear which one was making the most noise. What was asking for my attention the loudest. I listened.
My present said GUILT. And here's where I connected some dots. I was feeling guilty about behaving a certain way recently, a way that was directly linked to something that happened to me in the past. I was feeling called to examine the link between those two situations. Could it be broken? How could I leave the past where it belonged, so that it wasn't affecting my present in harmful ways?
My future said QUIET. And in the context of the reading, that meant hope to me. That chaotic past events, current guilty feelings, end in peace and quiet. That it resolves, it sorts out, I figure it out, and there is beautiful quiet times waiting for me in my head.
If you have read this far and are still interested in what oracle decks can bring to your own spiritual and emotional journeys, the deck I've been using is available in my shop on this website. My deck is designed to be very simple with words, so that you really do need to find your own interpretation of things. That's the exercise for your insight... which isn't always what people are after. Some decks have paragraphs of text and enormous accompanying booklets, so you're experience has a lot of practical learning attached to it.
So! Please look around. There are so many types of decks, you may find you want different ones for different purposes. Some are very lighthearted indeed, some have a lot of practical learning written on them, some are dark and deep. You'll find something that speaks to you. Eventually, you may find a deck stops speaking to you, and you just don't feel like it belongs with you anymore. That's a perfect time to pass it on to someone new and curious.