Deck Review: Joy and Sorrow Oracle

I have a small backlog of decks but before I get to them, I wanted to review this deck that just arrived because it already has a special place in my collection. I usually devote at least a week (though lately it’s been more like months) to playing with a deck before reviewing it, so I think this is probably the quickest delivery to review time ever for me. You’ll understand why in a moment.

The initial announcement for this deck came at a time when I was still dealing with losing my mother to cancer. I’ve actually felt a lot of mixed emotions surrounding her death (I’ve talked about her emotional abuse elsewhere) but even though a part of me is glad that she’s not giving me any of her crap anymore, the emotions can still be difficult to bear at times (although it is definitely getting better with the passage of time). I have a deck that I primarily use for self care (the Oracle of the Mermaids) but as soon as I saw the first images of this one on the Aeclectic Tarot forums, I knew I needed to have it.

Sorry for the lack of pictures, btw. I can’t find a great image of the box art.

The Joy and Sorrow Oracle is the creation of Roxi Sim Hermsen, creator of the Pearls of Wisdom Tarot and are specifically designed for those “dealing with the pain of loss and trauma”. The deck is composed of paintings that were part of her art therapy after losing her son, health, and mother in a short period of time. They are based on the idea that “joy shared is doubled and sorrow shared is halved”. The artwork features women and goddesses, mostly in natural settings, with evocative meditations designed to draw you into the cards to find a moment’s peace.

The deck has 33 cards and comes in two sizes: poker size and jumbo size. Poker size is exactly what it says, while jumbo size is about 5.5″ x 3.5″, the jumbo cards also have borders on the top and bottom of the cards, while poker size is borderless. Both versions have linen cardstock that is smooth and flexible. The jumbo size comes in a serviceable box (the deck is sold via the Game Crafter so the boxes are a bit flimsy). The backs of the cards have their meditations/meanings so there is no LWB and the cards can be used right out of the box.

The artwork is colourful and vibrant, so much so that I’m thinking of buying a couple prints of my favourite images. There are a lot of pinks, oranges, and blues. There’s a very watery quality to the art, and its more stylized than realistic. I’m really glad I bought the jumbo edition, it was worth the higher price for the larger images. I love the “Escape” card, which depicts a woman on the beach, looking up at the moon and tossing flowers behind her,”The Fountain” which depicts a fountain shaped like a goddess and surrounded by flowers. and “Sleep” which depicts a sleeping woman reminiscent of the “Sleeping Goddess/Lady of Malta”. The cards mostly depict women (the few men in the cards are in the background) a number of which have darker skin and heavier body types.

I’m hesitant to really criticize this deck because its heart is in the right place, but I always try to give balanced reviews regardless of my feelings. The meditations will probably be a bit too New Age for some tastes. The text makes reference to the “Earth Deva” in a few cards, which you can easily substitute “spirit” if you don’t want to use a term borrowed from Hinduism. Some of the text also comes across as romanticizing Middle Eastern traditions like belly dancing. This doesn’t detract from the lovely imagery the text evokes for me, but it is something to keep in mind. In terms of triggers, a few cards contain nudity and a couple cards depict pregnant goddesses. There is one image of a goddess holding an infant.While I’d like to emphasize that I find the messages to be comforting, I felt that a few cards were saying more or less the same thing about sharing your experiences with other when they could have been devoted to different aspects of self care. Then again, I’ve never been a big sharing person.

Despite my criticisms, overall my experiences with this deck have been positive and comforting. I still like my Oracle of the Mermaids for self care, but I’m really impressed by the vibrant images and evocative text. At times I feel like I could just fall into these images for a brief moment of just being at peace.

If you would like a copy of this deck of your own, you can purchase the poker size or the jumbo size decks at The Game Crafter.

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