I’d like to start a new category today, in which I’ll regroup my reviews of oracles, books or online shops I’ve tested. Those with an esoteric-spiritual-pagan interest at least, and the first I want to begin with is the Ishsaar Oracle, the latest deck I’ve added to my collection of oracles.
So I begin this review with a little change in the original name of this deck: the Ishsaar Tarot. Well, I don’t want to distort anything really, but this is about making things right from the beginning: this is not a Rider-Waite or Marseille style deck. This deck possesses its own structure, and it has nothing to do with tarot.
One quick word about its structure. The Ishsaar Oracle is made of 60 cards, divided into several groups: the main 44 cards are designed to work in pairs, there is also 4 elemental cards (Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water), 3 Totems (The Sight, The Hearing, and The Word), 6 Pillars (which are archetypes like The Wanderer, The Witch or The Shaman), a Shadow card and its counterpart, The Light. One blank card is finally added to the deck, to be used as it is or to be illustrated by yourself. The whole deck is numbered in Roman numerals, from I to LX.
I leave you with an overview of this oracle. Note that I edged the cards in black shortly after I received the deck. I find that it sticks better with its character, plus it gives a little extra finish to the whole design.
I usually dedicate myself to a maximum of one or two games over a given period (often between two Sabbats, or on a complete lunar cycle) before changing for a newcomer or going back to an older one. It allows me to regularly run the tarot and oracles of my collection without completely forget about a deck or another (a particular tarot can also be perfectly suited to a season, but much less inspiring for the one that follows… ).
The Ishsaar is an oracle that I have in my possession for about a month, and with which I already had the opportunity to work quite well. Actually, it was almost the only deck I’ve used since the day I received it. I essentially used it as a “one card for the day” inspiration, but I also had a few more complex spreads when I needed it.
Well, clearly, spring is not the atmosphere that suits him best, but this oracle has been a very good companion nevertheless. The Ishsaar generally tends to answer you very honestly, almost harshly. I mean, do not expect him to be kind and sweet at all. Anyway, when I draw some cards, it’s usually not to have the message wrapped in excessive kindness, so I guess I’m cool with that. I prefer getting new possibilities that I wouldn’t have noticed so far, or a clear message about a situation and its possible evolution just to prepare myself for the best and make the changes that need to be done. On this point, no worry, the Ishsaar does the job.
If you appreciate oracles of this kind – the kind who doesn’t make any detour – if you are drawn to the illustrations and are a bit familiar with the author’s universe, just go for it, you won’t regret the purchase! Anyway, for now, let me talk about a few more details about this deck 🙂
• What I like about this deck
? A really great packaging
The whole pack is pleasant to discover. The companion book is well made (maybe a few typo here and there, but honestly, who cares? ), and also very good to look at (I just adore the garnet red Oblivion symbol on the cover, which can be found on the back of the cards too). I really enjoyed reading and diving into it.
The second thing I want to talk about is the box. I love it! I don’t usually keep my decks in their original boxes, either because it’s not practical at all (too big, too fragile, whatever) or just because I don’t like it. This one is great, beautifully done, and seems sturdy. As for the size, it’s small enough to fit in a bag if needed, but the cards don’t stay stuck in though.
The only thing I kind of regret in the whole package is the quality of the cards, a bit too thin and flexible for my taste. The soft matte finish, however, is pleasant to look at and touch, and they shuffle nicely.
? Cards that speak directly
This is a deck that offers clear concepts, the kind that are easy to understand. Plus it comes with a companion book which is quite complete, offering some good ideas to get a first understanding of the signification of the cards, meanwhile encouraging you to develop them as you work with the Oracle. I particularly like the “mirror cards”, either negative or positive, but thought as two different sides of one concept, two different ways to see and understand a situation, revealing more nuances when interpreting the cards.
This notion of duality is quite present in the Ishsaar Oracle, in the illustrations themselves: a lot of them are picturing two characters in a close relationship or in conflict. But it doesn’t mean that it’s all black and white, which is a thing I appreciate when using a deck for some guidance and personal development.
? Original spreads
Another thing I like about the companion book is that it offers two different spreads created by Yuna for this particular Oracle. First, the Pyramid Spread: 16 cards to get insights about a situation from its roots to its possible outcome. The second one is the Destiny Spread, designed for situations when a hard choice is required and different paths need to be explored in detail.
? A magical use
It’s something I already do with most of my tarots and oracles, but it’s usually never mentioned or discussed in the booklets: the use of the cards in spiritual practices, rituals, and witchcraft stuff. Putting a card on your altar to get its energy, keeping another one with you, working with a particular archetype to get some balance in your daily life, to develop a quality that you’re missing at some point or, on the contrary, to ensure that you’re in control of those that seem overwhelming.
An oracle deck can be a great support to integrate into a ritual, and the Ishsaar was created with this possibility in mind. For each card (well almost, some concepts are less appropriate for this kind of use), you’ll find in the companion book some tips and ideas to use the cards in your own practices, in association with gemstones for example.
? It’s affordable
Most of self-published tarots or oracles are usually quite expensive. For this deck, a few different packs have been proposed during the pre-order in January. I personally purchased the “standard” one (since I don’t accumulate goodies and this kind of extra stuff, I didn’t have any interest in the superior packs) and paid €25. At the time I’m writing this review, the Ishsaar Oracle is available at €26.50 excluding shipping costs (for French customers at least, I didn’t check for other countries on the website).
• What I least appreciated
? Repetition of images
That’s my biggest disappointment with this oracle: several cards are picturing the same illustration. And when I say several, I mean a lot. I usually prefer when you can clearly distinguish a card from others, which is the case when a card really has its own personality and symbols. Having really distinct cards is kind of essential for me, so I don’t have to refer myself to its title or keyword to be sure it’s the one I thought I get (it may sound silly, but it actually tends to break the flow of images and thoughts I can get while interpreting the cards). So yeah, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed when I walked through the cards of this Oracle (but hey, it’s my fault too: if only I’d have look each card individually before purchasing this deck… :p )
Let me give you a few examples. The Creation / Destruction cards are quite identical, only the framing differs. Some cards present the same illustration too, but in a mirror, like the Past and Future cards, or Speech and Earth (if you forget about the band-aid on the character’s mouth). Some images are just cut in half, separated on two different cards (Balance and Justice, Sight and Captivity). There is another one, the Shadow, that only presents a remastered drawing taken directly from the Mirror card. The Union card is also just a fragment of the Imagination, and the Crowd and Group cards are a sort of composite made from different other illustrations already seen in the deck.
There are approximately 20 cards concerned out of the 60 that formed the Oracle. I can understand some of the choices made by the author, but in the end, a third of the deck is still a lot.
? Different styles of drawings
Another small – and totally subjective – issue I have with this deck is that I find the illustrations uneven. Let me explain it to you. When I receive a new deck, I usually take the time to look at the illustrations one by one, and I finally put them back in three piles. First, the ones I adore and I’m drawn to, then those more neutral, and finally, the (hopefully few) cards that I like the least.
This is just a small ritual that allows me to familiarize myself with the pictures, and especially to quickly realize the “I like / or not” ratio, so to speak. So I did this thing with my just out of his blister Ishsaar, except that it ended with more piles, which I wasn’t being able to explain at first. Then I realized that the deck actually has two different styles of drawings: some cards are depicted with subtility and fineness, while the others present a much stronger, thick trait.
Each style seems to correspond to one of the two universes that inspired the deck, and some of you might find this amazing (and after all, it can be seen as a mark of the author’s evolution throughout the years), but I personally found the contrast quite disturbing when came the time to read with the cards. I mean, forgetting about the frame surrounding each illustration, I sometimes feel almost like I have two different decks in hand.
? The lack of identification for the characters
A small detail that looks like nothing, but this is an element that I quickly missed, although it could have been easily added to the Oracle companion book. Who are the characters depicted on each card? The Ishsaar is derived from two literary and iconographic universes created by Yuna: Pandora Project and Blinded. The thing is, at the moment of speaking, the first book is the only one available.
Of course, you can use this deck without any knowledge about the fictions and stories behind, but I think you’ll miss a part of the deck spirit. It’s like working with Nordic runes without having access to the entire mythology behind, you know? I will certainly read again Pandora Project while I’ll dive more deeply into this Oracle, but I’m already frustrated knowing that I’ll be missing a good half of the experience, just because the companion book is lacking a short summary of the main character traits and relationships. A small detail that could have given me more food for thoughts on the interpretation of the cards.
• My 3 favorite cards
Let’s finish this review on a positive note, by showing you the cards I like the most in this Oracle: the Witch, that you’ve already seen in the middle of this article, the Guide, and the Shaman. Well, 3 Pillars, yeah! ^_^ (and I’d definitely add the Guardian to the list if I could)