Oracle of Initiation (Tarot Size version)
Written, Designed, and Published by Mellissae Lucia
Mellissae Lucia’s Oracle of Initiation (Tarot version) is a 68 card deck designed and conceived by the author. Lucia states that the deck is “a mysterious and shape-shifting deck” that can offer “experienced guidance for embracing the beauty in spiritual transformation.” The deck is structured in eight worlds, each with eight cards that help the seeker understand the growth of their own life journey. She says that there are two types of cards, gateway and painted body cards. “Each Gateway card offers their main description and then their four elements for each of the realms. After the Gateways come the seven Painted Body cards. The Painted Body cards each have a focusing phrase and their main description, followed by the cross-cultural goddess, god or archetype that is the Guardian corresponding to that Painted Body spirit.”
My review copy included a tarot-sized set of cards wrapped in a velvet blue bag to hold the cards in, and a copy of the 400-page companion guide. I ended up requesting a copy of the PDF guide because the companion book does not have some of the card meanings in it. With this in mind, here’s my in-depth review of this deep and mysterious deck.
The tarot-sized version of the Oracle of Initiation comes with 68 cards. Each world takes the reader and seeker through various human development stages. The cards themselves are 2.75” wide by 4.75 long and are made of a sturdy card stock. The finish has a linen texture to it but they are also a bit glossy, which makes them a bit hard to shuffle in my hands. Seriously, the cards jumped out of my hands when I first held them—it was as if they all wanted to speak at once. Even after a few months of owning the cards, they want to jump out of my hands. The card backs are black with a red graffiti art on them. This pattern is not reversible; however, Lucia’s companion guide does give many suggestions on how to read the cards reversed. The edges of the card hold up rather well, too. They retain their black sheen, after all the times I’ve shuffled them.
The artwork on the Oracle of Initiation are a combination of photographs taken while she was in the New Mexican Graffiti Tunnels and some stylized hand-drawn art. The photographed cards are amazing to look at. They jump out at you and have an otherworldly appearance to them. Even after looking through the deck many times, I find it hard to believe that they aren’t manipulated in any way. The companion guide suggests that you look at the art to give you more details of the messages that Spirit are showing you in the cards; which is a great idea and something I love. Even the way the figures in the card move, evoke meaning to follow.
How It Reads
It took me forever to get to this reading section. There is so much in the Companion Book that I wanted to take my time to read through it and get to know the deck better. As I am not really used to reviewing oracle systems, I’m curious to see what the cards say about themselves in this three card reading. When I do these readings, I try not to overlay any other knowledge than what the LWB or companion book suggests.
1. What can you teach users?
I received 39. Collaboration, also known as the Balance of Alliance. The deity for this card is Gaia, and I’m loving the synchronicity. The Companion book describes this card as being “an authentic collaboration” that can provide “mutually beneficial association allowing both parties freedom within connection.” I think that this is a great answer to what the deck can teach users. By the deck providing the images for exploration and the person reading the card to provide understanding and divine connection, this deck can provide an awesome collaboration.
2. What are your strengths?
I received 4. Naivety, also known as the Initiation of Innocence. The deity for this card is Tara (haha, almost typed tarot there). The Companion book says that we “are they channel through which the inspiration of the galaxies may grace the earth, a starlight medium. (Our) initiation of innocence is remembering that within (our) naive quest for expansion, (we) are still flying blind, apprenticing to the ways of earthen awakening.” So, I take this that the deck is good to use with an open mind, a sense of play, and a willingness to expand one’s senses into the journey and contract they enter in with the deck.
3. What are your weaknesses?
Finally, for this last question, I got 61. Assimilation, also known as the Discernment of Unity. The deity for this card is Shango. The Companion book says that “assimilation is an awesome responsibility, attuning with all that surrounds you. The discernment of unity recognizes that assimilation is not simply absorbing: it is reweaving yourself into the matrix of existence, harmonized with all.” From these statements, I think that the deck is telling us that it can only show us what we need to do, but the work of integration (assimilating) the knowledge falls upon our shoulders and that it isn’t as easy as doing readings and writing journal entries. There is real work to be discovered with this deck, but only if you are willing to play and integrate the knowledge.
Lucia has two books to guide us through the Oracle of Initiation deck. I have both the 400 page Companion book, released for the initial deck publication (and kickstarter version), and a downloaded PDF guide made specifically for the tarot edition.
The 400-page Companion book is a wonderful marvel. The first 92 pages of the book take you on the journey through the deck’s creation. It gives you a huge record into how Lucia pushed her art and her spiritual direction to model the deck into a unique work of art. Then she introduces the structure, expanding on each of the eight worlds that the deck is broken into. She then describes how each world’s cycle comes together and interplays with one another. Finally, she devotes a chapter on the various ways to use the deck and how to read the card by listing to the divine voices we all carry. Nine spreads are included throughout the book, in-between the various card meanings. One really cool thing that the Companion book includes is a marked tab system on the page edges— this helps readers find the card meanings quickly.
The LWB PDF is a slimmer booklet. It contains choice bits of information about the deck, how it’s designed, and good bite-sized snippets of the meanings of the deck. In a way, I found the PDF a better quick-guide into the cards themselves.
The Oracle of Initiation takes awhile to get into and understand. But those who are willing to take the time, will enjoy the messages and connections it has to offer. I had the pleasure of attending a Study Group class taught by Mellissae at 2015 Readers Studio. We used cards from the Oracle of Initiation, along with cards from other oracles, to build a circular reading that can help us get closer to who we really are and get in touch with these messages. Like the reading I constructed from that workshop I feel like I am only starting out on the personalized journey and connection with this deck. One that I am excited to see where it takes me.