The Phoenix Cards by Susan Sheppard; Illustrated by Toni Taylor
Review by Fae Moon

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

The Phoenix Cards are an oracle deck designed specifically for past-life readings. The deck consists of 28 beautifully illustrated cards. Each card represents a particular culture or time period. Extensive historical research has been given to color, symbolism, design, and cultural accuracy.

In the accompanying book, information for each card is divided into eight distinct categories: Symbol, Place, Time, Groups, Language Groups, Appearance, Traits, and the Conclusion. For a past-life reading, choosing seven cards from the 28 is the basis for the spread.

In the Symbol section, the author summarizes the culture and meaning behind the symbol that she has chosen to represent the people. An easily recognized symbol of the culture is the picture that is used on each Phoenix card. Often, a symbol of a culture calls to us in an instinctive fashion. If you find that the goddess Pele, featured as the symbol of Hawaiian and Polynesian culture, makes you feel especially happy, you may have spent time in a previous life around Hawaii. Pele is an integral part of the mystique of the Hawaiian Islands, and is therefore a well-known Goddess symbol.

The Place tells where the people physically lived and how widespread their area was. In some instances, the Place focuses on an important person who greatly influenced the culture. If a particular history of a place feels especially interesting to you, the author recommends that you spend some time researching it in more detail.

The Time helps to pinpoint when on the universal timeline the culture was active.

The Groups cover the clans or tribes that make up the Group. As an example, the Plains Indians are a group, but within that group are various independent tribes: Comanche, Crow, Cree, Blackfoot, etc.

Language Groups also help to focus on a particular time period. In Egyptian culture, language changed due to physical location, such as the difference between Lower and Upper Egypt. During the thousands of years that Egypt was a significant force in the known world, language changed and adapted to meet the needs of its people. Language was also influenced by the exchange of goods and services from other people and cultures.

Appearance includes the basic physical appearance of a person within the Group. In this section, one can find descriptions of the skin tones, diet, clothing, and bone structure of its people.

Traits bring out the personality of the culture. This is perhaps the longest section under each Phoenix Card symbol. More details of character, religion, rituals, daily living, etc., are contained in this section. The reader gets a quick but strong impression of what it would be like to have lived at that time, with those people, in that place.

The Conclusion is one of the most fun sections of the book, as this is where the author brings home to you, the reader, what your chosen Phoenix Cards mean to you. Ms. Sheppard has found that when one is drawn to a particular culture, there are certain personality traits that are common with others who choose the same card. However, as every person is unique, and each reading is totally personal to you, the differences lie in the order that your cards are laid out and how they interact with the other cards.

The information in the comprehensive 261 page book (approximately nine by six inches) has been heavily researched and checked for accuracy. The book is designed in a very "user-friendly" way. The Introduction and How to Use the Phoenix Cards get the reader set to enjoy learning about and using the Phoenix cards. Each of the 28 symbol cards is given 4 to 6 pages of condensed information, enough to give the reader a feel for the basic precepts of the culture. After the symbols sections, there are approximately 80 pages devoted to using the cards in various spreads. In working with the spreads, Ms. Sheppard details how each card is relevant in every position. Even a new reader will find it easy to interpret the cards for him or herself.

According to Ms. Sheppard, past-life influences can account for some blocks to success or unproductive repetitive actions that we inflict upon ourselves. It is my understanding of her theory that once we have dealt with the trials we faced in the past, we can continue with renewed energy to progress in our present lives. For those readers who are serious about pursuing their past lives, Ms. Sheppard encourages history and genealogy research, as well as using other tools such as intuition and meditations.

Whether you are "into" past-life readings or not, this deck and book set deserves a place in your library. The deck is beautiful, deceptively simplistic in design, as the illustrator, Ms. Taylor, brings to vibrant color the symbols of myriad cultures. Each design has the feel of an Art Museum painting, with extraordinary clarity of color and purity of line that demands more than a momentís glance. The rising Phoenix on the back of the deck, for whom the deck is named, is truly magnificent, a magical painting for a mythical being.

The Phoenix Cards book and deck set are published by Destiny Books. They are packaged in a slide-out box that holds the cards in a cut-out well beneath the book. The book is of good quality paper stock, with a sturdy paperback cover. The cards are slightly over-sized at 5 3/8" by 3 3/8". The one downfall of this set is that the cards were printed on a light-weight card stock that wonít hold up to shuffling. I handle my cards very, very carefully to prevent dog-eared corners, and bent middles. This is not a deck that I would allow the public to handle unless I had the cards laminated.

You can see other examples of the cards here.

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

The Phoenix Cards by Susan Sheppard; Illustrated by Toni Taylor
Publisher: Destiny Books
ISBN#: 0892813105

Fae Moon has been dabbling with tarot and oracle decks for about 10 years. Fascinated by the wealth of information available through connecting with oneís higher self, Fae became a Certified Angelspeake Facilitator, a member of the American Tarot Association, an ordained Minister of the Universal Life Church, and the author of Tarot Inspired Stories, a series of short stories based on three-five card tarot spreads. Fae has plans to develop an oracle deck featuring faeries and their myths and legends.

Images © Destiny Books
Review © 2002 Fae Moon
Page © 2002 Diane Wilkes