Oracle Deck

I like tarot as a method of fortune-telling because the cards can act as triggers to the most salient parts of your consciousness, structuring them into a narrative of your existing desires, perhaps previously unexpressed. These unearthed desires may henceforth direct your intentions in its direction, thus becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I wanted my oracle deck to play with this idea of shifting mental states to produce new interpretations and therefore (hopefully) clarity. When learning about cleromancy last week, I especially loved the medieval decks that had silly poems accompanying each card. Personally, reading poetry transports me wholly to different emotional states, and I thought it would be interesting to have a deck where the cards put you into a different headspace from which to interpret and reframe your query.

This may or may not have partially been an excuse to reread my favorite books of poetry… but I think it worked out well enough. My oracle deck contains three suits: Before, Betwixt, and Beyond. These suits emerged organically while I was considering my poetry collection and the emotional themes of each author. Li-Young Lee, whose poems wrestle with memory and the reemergence of past trauma in the present, is my “Before”; Mary Oliver, whose poetry reveres nature and exalts the present moment is my “Betwixt”; and Maya Angelou, who transcended hardship/racism with unfailing optimism and strength, is my “Beyond”. Reading the works of these authors leaves me reflective of the past, grateful for the present, and excited for the future, respectively.

So I combed through a book per author, transcribing poems that emotionally resonated with me into a json file:

Then, I wrote a simple python script that received an input (your query), and chose a random poem for you to meditate on. The lines print one at a time, with pauses after each, to make it a slower, unfurling experience.

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