The Burning Serpent Oracle
Reviewed by Luminaria Star
It has already been said that “The Burning Serpent Oracle” is not a traditional Lenormand Deck.
Ok, I can buy that. It doesn’t have to be.
It is still an oracle deck with splendid artwork, that speaks in a clear, distinctive voice.
It’s like playing a really fine modern violin. If you are more interested in making music than making an investment to beef up your status- it doesn’t matter that instead of a Stradivarius, it’s made of tuned carbon fiber with an acoustic pick-up. If its voice is true and sweet, and it still allows me to play superb music, that is all I care about!
Whatever the instrument- If it does the job, does it really well, and is a pleasure to use- then I’m all for it.
I’ve done a dozen “test drives” so far, and the readings came to the point beautifully. The drawings have a lovely pellucid clarity, with subtle coloring that conveys a sense of elegance, and the symbols really sing out! The style reminds me a lot of Pre-Raphaelite art, yet has a modern edge, and is simple without compromising on content.
The cards are printed on a good grade of card stock that is substantial without being overly rigid- so that they shuffle well, and the printing is decent quality. The book is nicely produced, in a compact edition, with black and white illustrations in high resolution, so that you can still see the details very clearly. All in all, this is a very classy deck, and the book is well researched and written, with a wealth of information on the symbology and interpretation of each card.
This deck does the job, and does it superbly, with style and clarity.
It’s gorgeous, it’s well designed and it works for me.
A purist might find issue with that, so all I have to say to them is: don’t call it Lenormand. Call it an oracle deck INSPIRED by the Lenormand system.
If you’re interested in collecting beautiful decks that function well, then this is a deck that is well worth your time and attention. Five stars, without a doubt.
The Burning Serpent Oracle: A Lenormand of the Soul, Robert M. Place & Rachel Pollack, 2014 Hermes Publications, NY, ISBN # 978-0-9915299-0-2 (text) & ISBN # 978-0-9915299-2-6 (cards)
Review by Thomas Freese
It’s very hard to set down The Burning Serpent Oracle, both text and cards, in order to write a review, as both are fascinating guides to my recent journey toward Lenormand wisdom. Rachel Pollack has written a thorough text, which patiently explains numerous facets of a good working knowledge of the intriguing Lenormand cards. And Robert M. Place, also a talented author as well as skilled illustrator, provides clear and uncluttered artistic images; crafting perfection through simplicity. The synergy of the combined talents of both creators of the Burning Serpent Oracle conveys clear and strong visuals, rich in both color and metaphor.
These cards will be recognizable across the room at a psychic fair, The Heart, with flowering rose and cool Demeter holding The Scythe. The Gold Ring promises more than a mere marriage commitment, as the ring provides a base for a Solomon-like temple. Cards 28 & 29, traditionally The Man (28) and The Woman (29) are doubled by including a female card 28, and a male card 29, each looking in the direction opposite of their traditional versions. Another “bonus” two cards are Osiris and Isis, thus boosting the standard set of 36 to 40 cards. Part of the significance of each of these Egyptian figures relates to the higher self of the man and the woman.
The text weighs nearly one pound and, at 263 pages, is packed very full into the 5 x 8 x 5/8 inches. It is a reader’s pleasure to find no typos and page after page of fascinating narrative, as the author weaves personal story, mythology, historical references, and spiritual and cultural connections into a practical discussion of how one might interpret each card. In fact, Rachel Pollack offers four well organized categories for interpreting every card: the most direct meaning, basic meaning expanded and explored, larger context and potential secret or mystical meaning. Each card is shown in black and white in full page size, and 43 revealing pages outline many variations on reading spreads with commentary and suggested meanings.
With each card, I enjoy the well-informed and creative variation of Lenormand image; truly this collaboration has yielded so many enjoyable images. The Burning Serpent rises out of an ancient Jewish altar, The Fox is found in 19th century London and a wee butterfly perches on top The Rusted Cross. Many more visual and textual surprises await the reader and practitioner of the cards. Card backs show a variation of Card 1, Hermes the Messenger. Included in the box of cards is a little white book of 15 pages with all the basic meanings. The artwork of the cards has the look of pen & ink with colorful but muted gouache; sensitive souls like me are not overwhelmed with garish and overly strong colors.
I like The Burning Serpent Oracle, and I believe the background of both author and artist, with their skills and years of work and study, have come together to bring us an oracle that will be utilized for many years to come.
Thomas’s first tarot deck in 1979 was a Christmas gift from his mother. Thomas is an experienced tarot and palm reader. He also reads from objects and photos. In addition he has authored 10 books on metaphysical topics and is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist.