The Oracle Tarot Deck by Lucy Cavendish
Review by Joan Cole


“The Oracle Tarot is not so much a reinvention as a rejuvenation of the traditional medieval Tarot – created out of the belief that modern lives need a modern deck to give them relevant, easy-to-understand and expert magical guidance.” (from the little white booklet--LWB)


This is a very friendly, approachable deck with an illustration style that puts me in mind of the fashion magazine genre.  It has a rather relentlessly positive slant, yet holds to Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS)-compatible meanings in the pips.  Yet I am not sure it can really be classified as a tarot, for all the Court Cards have been completely omitted from the deck.

This deck was recommended enthusiastically by one of the participants in the local Tarot Studies Group, and I have tried it out with great results at another Women’s Group I belong to that is not mystically oriented.  I can see the value of the deck for public “corporate” settings, for people who have decided that traditional tarot decks are too hard to learn, or for people who are in a psychologically fragile place.  I just wish the Court Cards had not been omitted from the deck.

“The enchanted form of help your Oracle Tarot can provide you with will always be joyful and optimistic – there are no frightening images or moments.  This certainly does not mean the Oracle Tarot avoids the tough stuff, but we know that lessons and tests are easier to learn and face when you can work through them with courage.  Fear incapacitates; hope inspires courage.” (LWB)

For a deck that insists on such an optimistic slant, there is surprisingly little renaming that has taken place.  Only the Hierophant, Death, and the Devil have new titles.  The art is bright and flowing, with nearly all women depicted, many in high heels.  All cards have keywords shown.

When things get tough, go shopping!





0 - Fool

The Fool

Spontaneity, taking chances

1 - Magician

The Magician

Intuition, creativity

2 - High Priestess

The High Priestess

Feminine influence, inner guidance

3 - Empress

The Empress

Fertility, sensuality

4 - Emperor

The Emperor

Masculine influence, power

5 - Hierophant


Nostalgia, reflection

6 - Lovers

The Lovers

Soulmate, decisions

7 - Chariot

The Chariot

The inspired warrior

8/11 – Justice


Honourable choices

9 – Hermit

The Hermit

Wisdom of solitude

10 - Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune

Change, action

11/8 – Strength


Courage, open heart

12 - Hanged Man

The Hanged Man

Suspense, waiting

13 - Death


Release the past

14 - Temperance


Balance, harmony

15 - Devil


Issues of control, freedom

16 - Tower

The Tower

Discovery, change, adjustments

17 - Star

The Star

Hope, inspiration, nature

18 - Moon

The Moon

Yearning desire

19 - Sun

The Sun

Awards, camaraderie, affection

20 - Judgment


Putting the past to rest

21 - World

The World

Rewards, expansion, destiny


The suits are cups, coins, swords and wands, and the keywords and illustrations fit well within the RWS tradition.  The Three of Cups does not have three dancing graces, but does have one, with keywords of “celebration, bounty”.  The images are generally quite original, and the LWB text is very encouraging.  The text for the Five of Coins advises “You are going to be okay, and you need to believe this – the Universe wants you to understand that you will be taken care of…”   The Ten of Swords consoles, “This situation may look very bleak right now, but when you think about it, you’re being given the opportunity to change your life for the better.  Don’t be deceived into compromising your health any longer – this is a wake-up call from the Universe.”

As mentioned previously, this deck has no Court Cards.  The explanation left me wanting: “In traditional Tarot decks, there are cards that represent people, called the Court Cards.  However, as the Major Arcana always indicate powerful people in your life, these are the cards to look for when trying to discover exactly who is playing a vital role in your destiny” (LWB).

You will have to decide for yourself whether this is a Non-Tarot Oracle deck or a Tarot deck.  This is certainly not a deck that will appeal to everyone, yet there are cases where it is one I can recommend.  For public demonstration (entertainment) situations where there might be people with religious objections, I cannot see anything that could be objectionable and will probably use it myself again in such situations.  It’s also a very nice Oracle deck for someone who wants to eventually get into standard Tarot, but finds it too challenging right now, whether for reasons of memory or fragility. 

The Oracle Tarot Deck by Lucy Cavendish
Publisher:  Hay House 2003
ISBN #: 1-4019-0098-4

Joan Cole is a stay-at-home mom and former geek.   She has been studying Tarot off and on since the early 1980's.  You can see her deck collection here.

Images © 2003 Hay House
Review © 2004 Joan Cole
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes