Karma Oracle by Laura Tuan; artwork by Silvana Alasia
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you would like to purchase this set, click here.

This attractive oracle set is the brainchild of Laura Tuan (Tarocci Celtici), and birthed by Silvana Alasia (Nefertari Tarot, Tarot of the Sphinx, etc.) (Lo Scarabeo played the rle of the obstetrician). Based on Vedic and Hindu beliefs, the cards are divided into four categories: deities (12 cards), the animals who carry the Gods (10 cards), objects and attributes of the Gods (eight cards), and the three pillars of karmic doctrine: Karma, Dharma, and Moksha.

I was surprised and a bit disappointed not to see Kali represented in the first category, but Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma, Sarasvati, Lakshmi, Krishna, Parvati and other familiar deities in the Vedic and Hindu tradition are represented. The portraits of the Gods and their mounts evoke in me a real interest in knowing the stories behind them; alas, the companion booklet gives them short shrift. I found the objects and attributes of the Gods the least interesting of the categories, as the images are simple and don't allow for much creativity in interpretation. The Mala, for example merely shows part of a woman's arm bedecked in bangles at her wrist. A rosewood bracelet dangles between the fingers on her curled hand, which seems to caress it. All of the objects (the lotus, the shell, the axe, etc.) are drawn in the same way--being held in what looks like a woman's hand.

This 33 card deck is quite attractive and well-designed. The cards themselves are quite small (approximately four and a quarter inches by two and a quarter inches). The elegant, reversible card backs depict a wise man in the doorway of his cave, sharing his wisdom to a gathering of seekers. They are bordered in a muted Indian design that picks up the colors of the main image, and are really quite lovely. The cards have different borders depending on their categories: deities are bordered in blue, deity mounts in shades of yellow, objects and god attributes in a reddish-brown, and karmic principles are bordered in dark green. Alasia, known primarily for her depictions of Egyptian and Etruscan art, brings a wonderful sensibility to these Indian images. They are vibrant and arresting, yet are never tacky or stereotypical.

A 48 page booklet comes with the deck, and provides interpretations for all the cards, along with a short introduction to the principles of karma and reincarnation. The interpretations are fairly lengthy (as llittle white booklets go), presenting a keyword, the card's symbolism, the divinatory meaning, time for realization (when the divinatory meaning will occur), a guided interpretation for the "Previous Life Game" (at the heart of the deck is its exploration of past lives), and the "Specific Situation Game." Both games are the first two spreads highlighted in the book.

There are also elaborate instructions for seasoning the deck. At the end of the book are several more spreads which look intriguing and intelligently devised. As someone who has long eyed the spreads in Tuan's tarot companion books with great curiosity (they're in Italian, and therefore inscrutable to me), this English transcription has been quite a comfort. I'm happy to say that the spreads included in the Karma Oracle can definitely be used with the tarot, too. The booklet's translation from Italian to English is not always smooth or accurate.

I recommend this deck for those interested in oracles based on Vedic and Hindu karmic principles. It's a well-done, attractive and compact set.

Karma Oracle by Laura Tuan, illustrated by Silvana Alasia
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
ISBN#: 0738702412

If you would like to purchase this set, click here.

Excerpt:

The Mala

Keyword:                 devotion
Symbolism:               an attribute of Brahma and instrument of devotion and prayer, the mala is made up of 50 beads, the number of the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, usually made of strongly scented rosewood. its change shape recalls the idea of cycles of time and periods, which the guide re-creates after every cosmic destruction.
Divinatory meaning:   division, love, willingness, harmony, affectionate disposition, adoration, gratitude, trusty [sic] letting go
Time for realization:    pondered evolution, from three to five years.

Guided Interpretation
Previous Life Game

Who you were:          you were completely dedicated to love, for a person (even if married), a group, an ideal, a god.  Confirmation of this is that you have no enemies; many people love you and think the world of you.

Who was with you:   the loved person or people, who today you either find alongside or are still looking for with a melancholy feeling of emptiness.

Your karmic inheritance:  love, harmony, willingness, trust. Whoever wanted to could easily exploit you, but the spiritual protectors who guide you prevent this happening.

Where you are going:     towards an experience of total and unconditioned [sic] love, in search of a twin spirit or group, an ideal, and energy you can devote yourself to with trusting openness.

Your current task:    love with all your heart, let feelings, willingness and devotion flow.  Love is a total experience you must expect nothing of; the reward is already in the emotion.  Trust the other and be grateful for what is given to you.

Specific Situation Game

The problem:          it is a problem of love that is not necessarily exchanged.  You met the loved person in other lives and you need her in order to find your unity, even if she is bound to others or far from you with her thoughts.

The causes:            after having known true love, you are gripped by a lack of it.  You are ready to give everything for love, to fight and put yourself on show, but perhaps you underestimate yourself to the point that no one notices you.  If love escaped you because of a fatal error, life is now offering you a second chance.

Help:                      your immense capacity for love, offering and giving yourself up without asking for anything guarantees it.  You are willing, affectionate and grateful: who would not notice a treasure like this?

The obstacle:         fear of losing affection or the impression of not being understood and loved in return.  When love becomes need, something is not right: intervene straight away, or change direction.

The sentence:        apart from the end, such an intense experience of love is always a gift from heaven.  Treasure it and believe it has made you a better person.


Images 2003 Lo Scarabeo
Review and page 2003 Diane Wilkes