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Animals Divine
 

Animals Divine

Jewel
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* ISBN: 978-0738703213 * Publisher and Year: Llewellyn Publications, August 2005 * Author/Artist: Lisa Hunt * Companion Book # of Pages: 200 * Card Size: 2.76 x 5.00 in. = 7.00cm x 12.70cm * Availability: Out of Print


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Jewel

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Animals Divine Tarot

By Jewel – November 5, 2019

 

Published as a deck/book set by Llewellyn in August of 2005, Animal’s Divine was Lisa Hunt’s first non-collaborative Tarot deck.  This set is out of print, but can still be found used at reasonable prices.  The inspiration for this deck came from Lisa’s deep respect for animals.  As she notes in the Preface of the companion book, animals have always been a source of artistic inspiration, “By making animals the focus of a tarot deck, I have come back home to the place where sketching my natural surroundings was the most joyful pastime of my childhood.”  In taking on the creation of this deck, Lisa visited zoos, wildlife sanctuaries, parks, and an animal farm.  Not only to illustrate them accurately but to observe them closely, learn about their nuances and personalities.  And the art is this deck is simply breathtaking.  The animals within feel alive and full of personality.  Everything about them is perfection down to the textures of their fur, feathers, or skin.  The natural environments are equally detailed and magnificent.  These cards make it so easy for one to be transported into the scene and to have close encounters with its inhabitants.  I find these cards to be great meditation tools.   

 

Equal attention and detail are given to the Major and Minor Arcana so the deck is seamless artistically which is always a plus in my book.  The deck is comprised of 80 cards, 22 Major Arcana, 56 Minor Arcana, and two extra cards that include spreads specific to this deck (Animal Journey Spread and Animal Wheel Spread.)  The Major Arcana focuses on different myths that connect animals with a God or Goddess.  There a couple of cases where in my research I wondered why Ms. Hunt did not stick to descriptions in the myths, such as VII The Chariot – Freya, where in the myth her chariot is pulled by two cats, but on the Chariot Card they show her ridding a boar though the cat is also present on the card running at her side.  Both animals associated with Freya, so I get that, but the Chariot was such a perfect opportunity to just present the myth as it is.  Three of the Major Arcana cards have been renamed, but the renaming is easy to work with and fits the use of myths in the deck:  V. Hierophant becomes V. The High Priest – Ganesha; XII. The Hanged Man becomes XII. The Hanged Woman – Spider Woman; and XV. The Devil becomes XV. Challenge – Rhiannon.

 

The Court Cards also include this animal/God/Goddess connection.  The Minor Arcana numbers 1-10 depict strictly animals.  The mythology used in this deck for the Major Arcana and Court Cards is very diverse and multicultural:  Celtic, Norse, Native American, Asian, Egyptian, Greek, Indian, African, Polynesian and more.  To my pleasant surprise the suits and elements are your traditional Cups/Water, Wands/Fire, Pentacles/Earth, and Swords/Air.  Ms. Hunt’s previous deck collaborations with D. J. Conway had Wands/Air and Swords/Fire so I went into working with this deck assuming she would maintain those correspondences.  Then again, we all know what they say about assuming things.  The Court Cards are Queen, King, Knight and Page.  The companion book does delve into them at all aside from the card descriptions.  The card images are framed with a brown/bronze colored line.  Outside these frames is an extra 1/8” white border on the sides and a ¼” on the top and bottom.  The card title is in black at the bottom of the cards, and the animal or God/Goddess name at the top.  I would have preferred these cards to be borderless all together as it would have further enhanced that ability to just get lost in the card, but that is just a personal preference.  The card backs are cream colored with brown/bronze round tribal design at the center of the card back that looks like it may include elements from various cultures and three birds.  The backs are reversible, but there are no reversed meanings included in the companion book.  The cards are typical Llewellyn card stock of the day which is a little bit thicker than that of their decks today.  I have no problem with the card stock then again, I am not overly fussy about this either.  The cards measure about 5” x 2.76”, a good size for most sized hands. 

 

As with the Fantastical Creatures deck (by D. J. Conway and Lisa Hunt), I found about less than half the cards to even remind of the RWS, so this was not a “plug and play” deck for me.  I guess this can be attributed my lack of knowledge about many of the multicultural Gods and Goddesses, myths, and animal symbolism.  Once I did some simple web searches, the majority of the cards did make sense to me.  I was still left confused by some of the Gods and Goddess cards, and some of the myths (Hunaman as Page of Pentacles is one).  This is not deck I feel comfortable using without access to my computer to look up animal symbolism, myths, or many of the Gods and Goddesses used, and I did dedicate a solid month to working with this deck exclusively and even completed the 30 Experiments in Mark McElroy’s book “What’s in the Cards for You?” with this deck!  The readings I did were good, but they took research and some I just had to go with the imagery, not my usual ideas on the meanings of the cards.  The deck may be RWS based, but honestly it was not entirely recognizable to me outside of the structure:  suits, naming, numbering and elemental correspondences.  Though beautiful and readable with considerable effort, I doubt I will be reading much with this deck.  I am glad I finally explored it, it had been sitting on my bookshelf for over a decade, but I am done with it.  It would take me years to amass the knowledge I would want to have in order give really deep meaningful readings.  The deck has them, but it will take months of study that I am not willing to dedicate to it.

 

So now that I have talked about the cards, and my experiences with them, lets talk about the book.  The Companion Book to Animals Divine is most definitely a tribute to animals.  The 198-page book opens with an adorable picture of Lisa Hunt at age 4 holding a kitty that is almost as big as she is.  This is followed by a Forward by Kris Waldherr, author of The Goddess Tarot.  Then we have the Preface by Lisa Hunt that speaks to her love and respect for animals and the power working with them brings.  The Introduction is titled “Connecting With Animal Powers” and addresses the importance of animals in our lives and the power of meditating with the Tarot cards being a profound way to connect with them.  This section also talks about how to use the deck and animals as inspiration.  Chapter 1 gets into Animals Divine itself and how Gods and Goddesses around the world “are often personified as animals … They possess supernatural powers that are attributed to natural phenomena such as creation and destruction.  They were both feared and revered because the appeasement of the animal spirit was essential to human survival.”  Chapter 1 goes on to talk about animal lore and examples of human/animal hybrids.  In general, the chapter is designed for us to see the divinity in animals.  Chapter 2 is titled “How to Communicate with Animals” which delves into communicating and connecting with them.  Chapter 3 is The Major Arcana, includes a synopsis of what the Majors are and then goes into the 22 Major cards individually.  Chapter 4 is The Minor Arcana and talks about how these cards are about our every day life, it then goes into the 56 Minors by suit.  Chapter 5 is titled Tarot Layouts and Meditations.  This section includes three Tarot spreads:  Four-Card Spread which is based on the Past, Present, Future layout but adds a fourth card to provide an overview of the reading;  the Animal Journey Spread is a five-card spread where you divide the deck into Majors and then by suit and draw one card from each – The Major Arcana card shapes the approach one should take and each of the Suit cards provides an animal helper; the Animal Wheel Spread is a seven-card spread to address a problem.  The Meditation section of the chapter talks about Tarot and meditation, how to immerse oneself in the images, and finally provides a guided meditation with the Queen of Cups.  The book ends with an extensive Bibliography.

 

Going back to Chapters 3 and 4 which deal with the Majors and Minors respectively, the card sections include the same information:  Meaning which includes a short base meaning for the card; Symbols which goes into the symbolism included on each of the cards and how it is presented, I found this area very helpful as it helped me understand where the deck creator was coming from; and lastly, Description which delves a little deeper into the meaning of the cards and often times provides some added information the image, myth, or God/Goddess which is also helpful.  Overall, I found the book to be more of a tribute to animals and their importance than a Tarot book.    

 

I would recommend this deck to people who like to meditate with Tarot and Oracle cards, those with extensive knowledge of ancient mythology from various and many cultures, those who love working with Animal decks, and those that enjoy studying decks for long periods of time.  The deck is lovely, and it does read well, it just takes a lot of effort.  If you are looking for esoteric symbolism this is not the deck you are looking for.  Neither the deck or book are ones I would recommend to a beginner.  So what does good ole’ Aunt Fifi think about it?  She loved it! It is gorgeous, and nothing offensive here.  Not to mention it is incredibly educational as you get to explore all kinds of mythology, deities and animals.  I would read for her with it if she asked, but she would need to give me a few days to write it all out, this is not a deck I could read face to face with anytime in the near future.  Perhaps she and I could better spend our time meditating together with cards from this deck.

 

 

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