Book Review: Cantigee Oracle

Disclaimer: I was given a free advance digital copy of this book from Netgalley for an honest review. The book and oracle cards are scheduled for release on Nov 2022.

Overall impressions: I liked it and would consider buying it/recommending it to others.

Details: this book and oracle deck are a collaboration between 2 women (Laura Zuspan and Rae Diamond). The book, written by Diamond, is meant to accompany the 52 earth based oracle cards drawn by Zuspan, The digital version of the book is lovely – muted greens and browns that are soothing and grounding. I can only imagine how beautiful the book itself will be. The book starts out with an overview of Zuspan’s and Diamond’s partnership and the aspirational focus that motivates the project and insights in the deck.

This is probably not a deck for someone who isn’t invested or interested in earth based connections, sustainability, or earth activism. While Diamond doesn’t say this explicitly, they are very clear at the outset that their focus is ecologically centered and this might come across as polemic to some. I however, fit quite comfortably in that niche, so it was a good fit for me.

Things I liked: how they gave so many possible ways to use the deck. In addition to using the cards in the standard oracle way (draw and interpret), they suggested yearly practices, symbolic practices,* spiritual and personal development practices, creative prompts, and prompts to deepen your connection with nature, As someone who is very much working to rebuild my connection to the land, I can see how this deck would be useful in that practice. 5 stars in this regard.

*I do have one caveat and area that bothered me and would actively suggest that the publishers correct it prior to the official book launch. They used the term totem (I used symbolic) and I think that there is no reason why they need to use this word – in fact, I believe that symbolic or metaphoric would work just as well and be non-appropriative. Totem, for those who don’t know, comes from the Anishinaabe word ote (transliterated by English explorers to ototeman) and is a symbol that represents a family (like a crest) or a revered/sacred symbol. As you can see, it is culturally specific (and has even been misused when we talk of Totem poles), and quite honestly, an unnecessary appropriation, especially in this day and age, of Indigenous knowing and language, given that we already have words that convey this concept within the English culture and language.

That aside, I generally have a positive view of the book. Even though I didn’t actually have the cards while reading the book and I thought it would be hard to try out the deck and the accompanying explanations, I still felt that I got a good sense of what working with the cards would be like. The image of each card is at the end of the text, so I simply randomly choice a card title (I picked What the Worms Know) that I thought might be a bit of a hard read for me and was pleasantly surprised by how perfect the draw felt for that moment. I really didn’t expect to find connection with worms!

As mentioned, imagery is beautiful, a bit surreal and dreamy, but potentially a bit gyno-centric. There is only one image of a man in the deck. And it is more androgynous than stereotypically masculine. That said, the majority of the cards really showcase nature or themes related to nature, so they aren’t all female images of breasts and vaginas! 8 cards are female, 1 male and the rest more nature focused or only featuring body parts (an eye for example). Depending on the reader, this may or may not be a deal breaker. At the end of the day, given what I see on social media, it might perfectly reflect the target audience the deck is meant for – which I probably fall into. On the plus side, while the deck isn’t overtly size inclusive, there is diversity in the females represented.

Would I buy this deck and book? Probably. I enjoyed the overall premise and themes in it despite the flaws I’ve identified. I would even buy it for a particular type of friend, confident in the knowledge that it would appeal to their particular interests. It wouldn’t be my main go to deck, but I could see myself using it regularly enough as I work through the wheel of the year to justify the purchase.

4 to 4.25 stars!

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