Monday, December 29, 2014

Deck Review - Oracle of Visions

An exciting release in 2014 from U.S. Games Systems, Inc was the much anticipated Oracle of Visions by Ciro Marchetti.  Previously released by the artist in a stunning, but limited and expensive on some budgets, version which subsequently sold out, this accessible version from U.S. Games brings all of the beauty and vision of the deck without sacrificing any of the quality of the limited version.

After creating three wildly successful tarot decks, which were both self published and picked up by mainstream publishers, Ciro Marchetti decided to switch gears and create an oracle wholly of his own system.  His distinctive style of techno-renaissance digital painting lends itself beautifully to fantastic and whimsical images which are designed to evoke the full range of human emotion.

The deck consists of 52 full color cards and a 140 page booklet written by the artist to help each reader on their journey through the Oracle of Visions.  Each entry includes a grey scale picture of the card, a defacto title, a quote the artist considered apt, and some possible directions the card may take you.  The guidebook does not include black and white meanings to each card, which some people will find freeing, while some would prefer a little more guidance.  The guidebook also includes spreads and theory in reading, and all of this comes in a sturdy two part box to keep your deck safe.

Oracle of Visions
The cards are large, measuring 3.75 inches by 5.25 inches.  The card stock is flexible and comfortable to riffle shuffle if that is your wont.  They are labeled with discreet numbers at the top of each card for easy referral in the book, but in most cases the imagery is evocative and requires little explanation.  The backs are atmospheric and fit the theme of the deck perfectly, but they are non-reversible and the guidebook does not provide any reversed meanings, leaving it to the reader to interpret whether each image carries a positive or negative connotation.

Marchetti claims a loose structure to the cards which consists of four categories- Situations, Emotions, Actions, and Behaviors.  In pointing to this structure, though, the artist is quick to reiterate that his purpose in the creation of this deck was to provide images which did not require a specific structure or meaning to work.  The images are meant to be read in perfect freedom and as best suits the reader.  In that, the Oracle of Visions is a unique and singularly successful endeavor.  This deck can truly be read in any form the reader is most comfortable with.

 An excerpt from the book to accompany the card "49" reads:
Oracle of Visions


I felt a tug.
You must be at the end of your rope.

-CARD 49-

We have trained and we have studied.  We have fallen and picked ourselves up to try yet again.Certainly, progress has been made with each effort and each attempt.  But sometimes despite it all we have to acknowledge the reality that we can't do it entirely on our own.

In this imagery, the white doves are visual metaphors for helping hands.  The physical support they provide here might take the form of emotional encouragement, financial assistance, or expert advice based on knowledge or orevious experience.

The challenge now is to achieve a balance,  to offer help but not reliance.

(From Oracle of Visions Guidebook by Ciro Marchetti for U.S. Games Systems, Inc, pages 108-109, copyright 2014.)

This deck does contain what I consider to be tasteful and beautiful nudity, and no violence.  I would consider it appropriate for adult use, and take on a case by case basis with teenagers.  It is a good deck for intuitive readers, with many symbols to pick and focus on in each card, and the cards can vary wildly in what they may mean from reading to reading.  For the reader who wants complete freedom from esoteric symbols and a "right" and a "wrong" interpretation, this deck shines.  It is a beautiful deck to tell stories with, and ultimately that is what each reader is doing.  However, not all decks with distinct themes fit all readers, and if you do not care for the jesters, the masquerade, surreal and fantastic feel of this deck, or the art that is partially digitally created, you may not be able to look past those perceived flaws.  For a reader that loves the structure of tarot or Lenormand, there exist cards that can be clearly correlated to different cards from those decks, but they are also different, and the structure simply is not there, because it is not meant to be.  Whether you consider this a strike against the deck is entirely dependent on your requirements in a deck.  If you think in metaphors and are good at finding the moral of the story, this deck will read well for you.

I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite card, because I see beauty and story in each one.  Equally, I do not find any cards objectionable or less wonderful than any others.  Rare is the deck where I think each card is great, but this is one.
Oracle of Visions
I find the sparkling fairy tale world Ciro Marchetti has created wonderfully evocative, and I love to lose myself in in the images and possibilities contained in each card.  It sparks my imagination and leads me on fanciful flights which are vital to me as a writer.  I adore this deck for that reason alone.  However, as a reading deck, it is not as successful, for me.  I prefer the structure that tarot and Lenormand offer for readings, and I never do as well with decks that are free form.  I love to use this deck for single card pulls, and as creative writing sparks, and it does get used frequently for those things, but I have struggled with giving myself full readings, and so I have not tried to give anyone a reading with the deck.
Oracle of Visions

In a world of sometimes forgettable decks Marchetti has created one that is truly unique, gorgeous to look at, and managed to maintain his artistic integrity through the partnership with U.S. Games Systems, Inc.  Marchetti has graciously provided all the images and some special downloads on his website, where you can also find beautiful boxes and reading cloths.  The Oracle of Visions is available wherever you usually buy your decks, or directly from U.S. Games.
Oracle of Visions

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