The Sacred World is just the right size for an oracle; it feels good in the hands with slightly rounded corners, and an “as above, so below” quote with a nearly symmetrical image on the back of the cards—depicting four elements within a circle. The cards measure 3 5/8 x 4 5/8 inches, and are just thin enough to easily shuffle. The small box shows the Butterfly card design and the 47-page Little White Booklet includes card meanings. Although reversals are not a part of the interpretations, it does not mean that the unbalanced aspect of each card symbol is not addressed. For example, card 34, the general element Fire, has the following key words, on page 33, “passion, energy, change, make the most of it, but be careful not to burn out.”
Two card spreads are given, including the intriguing Black Swan, White Swan spread. This five-card spread addresses needs, helpful actions or thoughts, and a “Magic Feather” to focus on a solution. The card artwork is delightful, with the look and wonder of book illustrations. The majority of the figures on the cards are from the animal kingdom, with about ten of the 44 cards showing human or human-like characters. Each card scene is ornately framed to match the four elements and a cartouche-like window at the bottom of the card face allows a quick scan to identify the varying elements in a spread with multiple cards. That is, each little window shows that card element visually; watery waves, red orange fire, blue sky and white clouds, and green vine leaves.
From dragon to bluebird to crocodile and whale; these are well-loved symbols represented by beloved critters or imaginary creatures. Each card/scene/narrative is enhanced by sumptuous background environment—the bear in the desert southwest, bats in a tangle of tree limbs or glowing fireflies illuminating a midsummer night. The Sacred World Oracle brings varying cultural strands, for Ganesha sits on a lotus blossom in the Elephant Card; Raven is done in the style of the Northwest coastal wood masks; and Dragonfly shows a woman who seems to have stepped out of the Brazilian rainforest.
The cards, and interpretive wisdom, in this oracle are positive and inspirational without coming off like a Pollyanna. The realistic wisdom blended with mesmerizing, beautiful images would brighten any a reading; take your worries and fears and walk with the Sacred World Oracle. You’ll come through with confidence, awareness and at least the hint of a smile.
—Thomas Freese, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified and Registered Art Therapist.
Kris Waldherr is one of my favorite artists (and authors!). The quality work keeps on coming with the “Sacred World Oracle”, a 44-card oracle deck based on the four elements (Fire, Water, Air, and Earth), which comes with a 48-page LWB (Little White Booklet).
Waldherr draws from myth, folklore, and nature to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the earth, and to bring gentle guidance into the lives of those that choose to use it. I loved that the point was made in the introduction that the cards both contain the message, and act as the vehicle to bring the reader the message. Our personal experiences act as a frame of reference for interpreting the cards in view of our daily life. We are essentially, according to Waldherr, releasing information that is already deep within our psyche. These sacred cards help tell our sacred stories.
Two spreads are presented – the three-card Past/Present/Future spread, and the four-card Black Swan – White Swan spread.
The deck is broken down into four quadrants, representing the four elements. Each quadrant has animals associated with it:
Quadrant of Earth: Earth, Cat, Dog, Rabbit, Ram, Bear, Lion, Fox, Bull, Snake, Elephant
Quadrant of Water: Water, Whale, Salmon, Turtle, Swan, Dolphin, Crab, Crocodile, Frog, Seal, Carp
Quadrant of Air: Air, Owl, Spider, Dove, Dragonfly, Bat, Peacock, Butterfly, Raven, Bee, Bluebird
Quadrant of Fire: Fire, Firebird, Horse, Dragon, Chimera, Firefly, Scorpion, Falcon, Salamander, Centaur, Phoenix
The cards are presented in the LWB with the card number, name, keywords, and a short paragraph on how to interpret the card.
The cards are 3.6” by 4.6”, which can be a bit awkward for small hands. However, I have small hands, and had no problem working with the cards. The backs have a ¼” white border, surrounding a reddish brown background, with gold icons in the four corners. In the center is a circle, divided into four quadrants to represent the four elements. The circle has a fine gold border. In white letters above and below the circle are the words “ As Above, So Below”. While each quadrant is color coded, I still view the backs as reversible.
The card faces have a ¼” white border, followed by a color-coded border. Earth is a dark green, Water is a light blue, Air is purple, Fire is a brownish-red. An ornate gold border surrounds the imagery, which appears within an arch. The name of the animal depicted, along with the card number (in Roman numerals) is placed in white letters across the bottom of the card. The effect is beautiful – that of looking through a window.
This is a deck that could be used by anyone, of any background, and any age group. It is gentle, bringing wisdom to the reader in a way that it will be accepted.
—Bonnie Cehovet, Aeclectic Tarot
I'm a tarot reader and have never had much use for oracle decks. But earlier this year when I was preparing a presentation on accessing your intuition and finding your answers using tarot and oracles, I came across The Sacred World Oracle by Kris Waldherr. I have always liked her artwork--she designed The Goddess Tarot in the late 90s based on her 1996 picture book of goddess images. And I found her online apps to be useful and to show off the beautiful artwork of her cards. For the first time, I became enamored of an oracle deck.
I immediately liked what I saw in the Sacred World Oracle. The artwork was beautiful, the thematic thread of the deck, primarily nature and animal based, conjured up multi-cultural myths and folklore for each animal illustrated, adding deepening layers to the simple images. And like a tarot deck, it was divided into four suits corresponding to the four elements: Earth, Water, Air and Fire. Here was an oracle deck with intriguing possibilities.
The little white book that comes with the deck provides keywords for each card, and a short paragraph that gives a slightly more in-depth analysis for interpretation. My favorite aspect of the LWB is that for each card it suggests appropriate myths, literature, religious stories, fairy tales, artwork, and even ballets from around the world--fodder for further research.
It seems like dolphins and rainbows are requisite images for oracle decks, and this deck does not disappoint. Centered on card XVII, Dolphin in the Water suit, is a dolphin, breaching out of waves that crash against hull-crushing rocks. His graceful curve and strong tail indicate that he is just playing and can rocket away from the rough water at any time. His friend in the distance leaps up toward a rainbow that reflects the top arch of the card border. This card is perhaps the definitive card of the deck--it uses what I've come to expect as standard oracle imagery, but by placing the friendly dolphin in a challenging position, it gives us an example of how to honor difficulty in our lives, transforming it into a game with the rainbow promise that nothing is too great a challenge.
All of the imagery is gorgeous, but a favorite is XXII, Carp, also in the Water suit. The shades of orange and gold lend richness to this card, which symbolizes financial prosperity. The open-mouthed carp twists in the currents of a shallow, clear stream, broken by occasional rocks and tall grasses. Dragonflies dart in and out. An old, gnarled oak branch adorned with blazing fall leaves cuts across the frame of the image, deepening the perspective.
There are four cards that are analogous to the Aces of the tarot deck. The first card of each suit exemplifies the element involved. I, Earth shows a landscape extending from an ancient, thick trunked tree in the foreground, through hills and valleys into tall mountains in the distance. The colors are greens, grays and browns. Tree tops take the shape of bears and mountains reveal crouching cats. In XII, Water, shadowy marine flora wave in the sparkling currents of the blue and green depths. Contemplation of the image brings the outlines of seals, and perhaps other creatures lurk in the dark deep as well. XXIII, Air shows dim storm clouds and bright lightning. One of the clouds morphs into the strong wings and noble head of an eagle. Flaming orange and yellow mythological beasts--dragon, phoenix and chimera--form the wildfire that crackles through the red and brown prairie grasses and pines in XXXIV, Fire.
Even though this deck functions as a standard oracle, to be read intuitively or via the keywords provided in the LWB, the division of the deck into four suits and the addition of cards that represent the essence of each element opens up numerous possibilities for reading. Laying out multiple cards, you can take note of whether there is a preponderance of a suit--for instance, many fire cards would indicate the need for energy and change, whereas a majority of earth cards would suggest that your goals are being manifest.
This deck hasn't converted me to oracle decks, but it certainly is one of the most intriguing, not to mention beautiful oracles I've seen.