This deck is just lovely. It has artistic pen-and-ink/watercolor style images on antiqued cards. They are the narrowest and thinnest cards I have so far, which makes them the only ones that I can shuffle like traditional playing cards (I’ve never been good at that).
One of the coolest things about the deck is that each card uses different flowers and plants in place of the usual symbolism, so the book gives both the traditional card meaning, and the historical/mythological associations of the plants. Designed by Larisa Kramar in Ukraine, and translated by Natalka Ishchuk.
I tried an interview last week, but the cards were a little resistant. I didn’t take a picture of the spread, but there was a lot of negativity.
So, I let it sit with some rose quartz for a week to see if it would sweeten up a little.
Here’s the results of today’s spread:
Interview with the Botanica Oculta deck by Dark Synevyr
1) Describe yourself
Knight of Wands
All of the wands court cards have daffodils on them, which are part of the narcissus family. The wand is represented by a willow branch. For the knight, the guidebook leans heavily into the Greek myth of Narcissus, from which “narcissist” comes. The implications are that the Knight seeks “self-knowledge through introversive submergence”. There are references to “still waters” and since water is the element associated with emotions, the Knight might appear detached, but is in fact deeply passionate.
Other guidebooks have focused on the Knight’s energy and need for adventure, but this deck takes a more somber approach, focusing on the parting that comes with travel.
As a self-description of the deck, this feels a bit melancholy. It is interesting that card selected to “describe yourself” is literally about self-knowledge. And maybe a little bit cheeky, that the response to “Tell me about yourself,” is “I know myself”?
2) What are your strengths?
Ten of Cups
The flower is the allamanda, a South American plant describes as “very sensitive” and “fond of the sun’s rays”. It follows the traditional associations with joy and harmony.
3) What are your limitations?
Ace of Cups
The periwinkle, which the guidebook describes as “the witch’s flower” is a blue or pink perennial. The book goes deep into historical uses from ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, but the most interesting detail relates to its vitality. Apparently “it lives as long as there is a drop of water in the vase.” Ace of Cups traditionally indicates a new relationship, and the guide supports that reading, though it once again takes kind of a dismal view, focusing on the dangers of letting emotions lead over the mind.
So, while the deck’s strength comes from the power of positive emotions (10 of Cups), it is also limited by a tendency toward over-emotional responses.
4) What types of readings are you best for?
King of Wands
Like the Knight, the King of Wands depicts a willow branch and a daffodil. This time the key words emphasize ambition, power and politics. I’ve been pulling the King of Wands in my daily spread a lot lately, so I also know that it can be read as a sign of leadership and creative masculine energy.
5) What can I learn from you?
Queen of Wands
According to the guidebook, in addition to the narcissus, the Queen depicts “ectendomycorrhiza in the form of two rings,” which “indicates a marriage of convenience or profit from a deal.” The key words include honor, stubbornness and morality. I’m used to a more positive interpretation of these qualities – courage, determination. The deck seems to suggest that we can work together to benefit us both.
6) What will be the outcome of our relationship?
The deck uses a sunflower (of course), which the guidebook tells me is a symbol of happiness and longevity in Chinese culture. It also describes the flower’s association with Helios in Greek myth, and its use as a symbol of devotion. Overall a very positive indicator of our relationship.
Bonus: Seven of Cups
This card remained in the box while I shuffled the deck, and I didn’t realize it until I had completed the spread. It depicts the atropa belladonna, a poisonous flower associated with the Greek Fate who cuts the thread of life. Although this seems extremely dark and dangerous at first, the guidebook assures me that the plant was also used as a protection against evil. This indicates a dangerous duality – both poison and medicine. The traditional meaning of the card reminds you that all opportunities have both good and bad possible outcomes, and it’s up to you to choose what’s best of you.
I’m not sure if this is a warning, or an encouragement about using this deck. It certainly promotes introspection, despite the repeated cautionary tale of Narcissus in this interview. I suppose we’ll see where it goes.
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