While at Many Gods West, I passed by a vendor table ran by Sky Cybele herself selling beautiful mythical creature inspired jewelry and her art work…and of course, her deck The Mythical Creatures Oracle. Tried as I might, I couldn’t leave without purchasing this wonderful deck for myself! Sky Cybele even signed the deck’s booklet for me. It is a great take-away from the weekend.
Anyway, here are my thoughts on the booklet and deck:
Right away, I want to comment on how wonderful the box is. It’s made of sturdy material, and when you open it, there are two ribbons that hold the lid upright so it’s like a mini suitcase.
Which makes me think I’ll keep the deck with the box, as cumbersome as that can be, because the box just feels so well made and worth keeping.
Opening up the booklet, I immediately noticed how much information this author packed into such a short amount of pages. Not only does this booklet inform you on the cards, but there are specific chapters on how to work with these mythical creatures as power animals, as “totems”, and as power animals.
But first, Cybele gives a little history lesson on the myth and mythical creatures. The chapter “From Past to Present” has some really great quotes about what it myth means — things like how myth are symbolic stories that convey truths about a culture in them.
More importantly, the Cybele confesses that this deck won’t be all encompassing of all the different mythical creatures that exist as that would be near impossible. She also admits that while her deck takes mostly from Western mythos, she doesn’t wish to disregard the Eastern mythos as being insignificant. However, she admits to taking mostly from Western cultures so that her Western audience is familiar with most of the cards — albeit, she did include some Eastern cultures mythic creatures. She also selected creatures that would serve a divination purpose, so they all needed to be different enough that card meanings weren’t redundant. And to that end, Cybele explains her process for deciding on the meaning of the different creatures in a divination system — a system that can be put aside in favor of the diviners own associations, she explains. It’s nice to see that a deck creator understands that different diviners will have different associations — ones that are different from the book description.
Next in the book is a handy section entitled: “Card List and Keywords”. Just as the name states, it give keywords for each of the cards. I imagine I’ll copy this list after I get familiar with the deck, so that I can do public readings with it without having to carry around the entire book with me.
The next section is “Introduction: Working with Mythical Creatures.” This is the part of the book that most oracle decks just won’t have, but because the creator of the deck is a believer in these mythical creatures, we get a glimpse into how to work with them. Cybele introduces these creatures as thoughtforms. She describes a thoughtform as: “When people invest enough thought into an idea, the idea gains spiritual or metaphysical concreteness” (page 11.) As more people pour energy into a thoughtform, the more powerful it becomes.
Cybele suggests working with these mythical creatures as archetypes, too, and especially as archetypes of specific people. Cybele writes: “This oracle was designed as a tool for understanding people through the spiritual metaphor of mythical creatures” (pages 12.) To that end, the author describes different ways to look at mythical creatures as symbols or archetypes of oneself and others.
Next is the chapter on totems, which…I’m uncomfortable about. The concept of “totem” is a First Nation concept by the Ojibwe people, yet it has been taken by outsiders to mean a plethora of things. Cybele writes: “In this book, the word ‘totem’ is used much more loosely to mean any metaphysical animal that represents a person” (page 14.) While that may be in the same theme as what Totem means to the Ojibwe people, I doubt it’s the same thing. Alas, “totem” is a word that is mainstreamed now and is hard to get out of the lexicon of most people. As the author notes, there are plenty of books written on the idea of totems and most if not all of those books are by non-Ojibwe people. I think a better phrase would have been “animal metaphysical embodiment”… or really anything other than an Ojibwe word and concept.
Anyway, the concept behind this chapter is to find your “totem” as well as identify other people’s “totems”.
I like that the author makes note that gender isn’t a limiting factor — men can be sirens and women can be satyrs. I also like that Cybele notes that people will embody a different mythical creature depending on a variety of factors, and that since humans are complex no one creature can completely encompass someone. However, Cybele comes back to the notion that there is still a “totem” that can be sorta like a personal symbol. Then she lists the creatures with descriptions to see if you match with any of them.
I’m not sure I agree with the premise of picking a “totem” from a list of words. Most of these creatures are too complex to just see what fits from the short description. For example, “Mermaid” brings up a whole host of imagery and ideas that “highly sensitive or emotional persons, empaths” doesn’t really cover (pg 20.) Of course, I guess it would give someone a place to start if they wanted to work with their “totem” discovering if one of these mythical creatures was a “totem” for them.
Then we move into the next chapter: “Meditations for Self-Empowerment”. Just as the title says, this chapter is working with the mythical creatures as a way for self-empowerment. Cybele gives a meditation on how to call a power animal to you and using this power animals powers to aid you. After describing how to do a meditation, Cybele gives a detailed description of the mythical creatures from the deck and how they may work as power animals. Interestingly enough, Cybele leaves out some of the mythical creatures she finds would be unsuited for a power animal: Fairy, Western Dragon, Werewolf being just three I noticed while skimming.
I was going to comment that Cybele doesn’t seem to write how we should respect these creatures — even as thoughtforms, they shouldn’t be just called upon for a boost to one’s life and then forgotten about in my opinion. However, she does write briefly that we should be respectful to them. I had to dig for this warning, so I don’t know how many people may miss it. Though again, that’s just my personal praxis that you should be respectful to entities — corporeal or not — and it’s worked out well for me so far. I guess if someone wants to treat these mythical creatures like a plug-and-pray entity … we’ll see how well that goes? (Especially an entity like Ammut …)
Moving on: next chapter is “Dealing with Monsters.” Cybele admits in the opening paragraph that not all mythical creatures are “cute and cuddly” and that sometimes they embody things a culture fears or dislikes. As the author puts it, we still experience unpleasantness in some form or other so monsters still are very real to our present life. After describing the mythical creatures for their more negative traits, Cybele goes into what to do about these monsters: eliminating them. She goes into two ways of getting rid of these monsters: Bottling a Monster and Destroying/Banishing a Monster.
Which I think when referring to metaphorical monsters (eg: my depression manifesting as a monster) is needed, but I wonder about monsters that have a purpose? Sometimes negative traits can be twisted into good ones — my anger can help fuel me to do something about that which is causing me anger, for example. Just a thought.
Anyways, we’re finally to the chapter “How to Use the Cards in Divination.” Cybele stresses that the cards can have multiple meanings, and meanings the diviner will have that the book will not.
Cybele admits that this deck has a specific focus for questions that lead it to answer certain questions better than others. She writes, “Most of the mythical creatures included in this set symbolize human personality types and behavior patterns. They also represent particular situations and can potentially bear warnings” (page 51.) For this reason, she suggestions questions like “What creature am I?” or ” What creature can help right now?” are some examples of questions suited for this deck. Cybele suggests one-card readings, with drawing additional cards for clarification if needed.
So we’re to the actual deck. The cards are sturdy and well made — no complaint there. They’re rather small without being tiny. The colors are a bit dark. I’m not a complete fan of the illustrations, but they don’t rub me the wrong way either (if they did I wouldn’t have gotten the deck at all!) While it probably won’t be my favorite deck, it will hold a special place in my heart for being the only deck I have of mythical creatures. Not just dragons, not just mermaids…all sorts of creatures.
In the book, I appreciate that Cybele tries to discuss the history behind each mythical creature. I say “tries” because there’s only so much she can write on the page before she needs to go into describing the card in a divination context. From my perusing of the deck and booklet together, she gives me enough information that I can google for more information if I so desire.
I am miffed about one card in particular, which is the Fairy.
First off…the author is using a very modern interpretation of what a Fairy looks like. I believe going off what the British think? But in the description, also talk about the Good Folk in Ireland so… I’m inclined to judge this card as an Irish Fae too. The descriptions of the card are also very whimsical and feel very American. The keywords for this card are: “Magic. Enchantment. Wonder. Childlike. [etc]” (page 84.) And just…everything I know about the Good Folk from Irish folklore is shouting “Nope!” I want to send the oracle’s author a copy of Meeting the Other Crowd by Eddie Lenihan.
Also, I don’t feel like the Fae are “creatures” in the same sense that a Dragon is a creature. Then again, I also wouldn’t consider Mermaids or Sirens to be either… So ignore that complaint. (Mermaids were accurately described as men-killing, for those curious!)
I really appreciated that the author split up “Western Dragon” from “Eastern Dragon”, because yes those are two separate entities. Western Dragons are threats and Eastern Dragons…not so much.
I did a dozen or so test readings with the deck, and I indeed found that the cards are best used for working with people problems. People who asked me general questions got advice about how to advance as a person. When someone asked me about changing their college major, the cards reflected how the change would affect them instead of affecting their finances or family or anything like that. Specifically how it would affect them emotionally.
Nonetheless, when faced with a question about spirituality, the deck responded well. Yet I feel like when left to its own devices, this deck will sway to address the people-problems.
Also, this deck doesn’t seem to fair well with future-based questions. It seems more apt in reading the situation as it is now rather than speculate about the future. For example: when asked what someone needed to know about college, the answer described the querent’s present state of mind towards college rather than how they would feel in college.
Overall, I liked the booklet. The booklet on its own is worthy to be bought and read, given all the information packed within it. There are some problems, but sadly they are problems that exist in the overculture. The booklet is well researched, however, and there is a Bibliography at the end which is excellent.
The deck itself is great for what Sky Cybele designed it for, which is addressing questions about people and people-problems. The deck doesn’t seem great for future-based questions, seeming to instead want to read the present situation. The material the deck is made of is reliable material and is on the small-side. I have issues with the Fairy card, but it’s a minor problem compared to how much I love there being a deck like this in existence.
Feel free to ask me any questions you have about the deck or the booklet!