A few months ago, I spotted something called “The Magpie Oracle” on Carrie Paris’ Facebook page. Historically, I don’t like anything but tarot. I’ve tried runes, tea leaves, playing cards, oracle decks and Lenormand, and all of them have left me missing my cards and generally acting like a brat about anything that isn’t tarot. But these – these were SHINY. I immediately shared the picture with a comment along the lines of, “OMG I WANT”, and one of my lovely friends gifted them to me. I spent about two weeks playing with them – using the casting sheets that Carrie provided on her site, using casting sheets that I made up – nothing. I even laid them all out and wrote keywords that would help me identify them – bupkus. Then, just when I started getting frustrated – I asked a friend to ask a question and draw a few charms. They worked like…um, well…like a charm, actually. I now use them following every tarot reading I give and sometimes use them IN LIEU of my beloved 78 cards.
For example, I called my friend, Beth, and had this conversation.
Me: Hey – I got some charms and I can’t figure out what to do with them. Ask me a question so I can play.
Beth: Should I get a puppy? (She has an older dog who isn’t feeling well)
· I pulled the scales charm and the skull and crossbones charm.
Me: NO. Penny is too old and it will mess up her life and make it more uncomfortable before she goes.
Beth: Fine – should I get a kitten?
· Pulls the kitten charm and the good-luck horseshoe charm
Me: What the hell?!? I got a kitten!
Beth: OMG A Kitten!
Me: Yes, I just said that!
Beth: No, a kitten just literally walked out of the woods up to my feet. What the hell did you do?!?
So – that’s what we’re dealing with, guys.
Carrie received her Masters in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination from the University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK. The program has now moved to Christchurch University also in Canterbury: http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/courses/prospectus/postgraduate/courses/myth-cosmology-sacred.asp. Carrie has co-created the Lenormand Revolution Deck, the Magpie Oracles I and II, the new Magpie Oracle: Tarot Talismans, and will have two new Lenormand decks coming out in 2015. Between these creations and teaching, speaking and writing, she’s a pretty busy lady. I reached out to Carrie and asked if I could interview her and she graciously said yes. It turned into more of a conversation and was one of the most memorable conversations about divination I’ve ever had.
I wondered about the first divining tool that she used. Carrie said that she feels she’s been pursued by divination her whole life. Almost as if she was pushed into this calling – in a good way. She used to make up games all the time when she was a little girl. One involved drawing circles on the ground and tossing twigs and shells and rocks into the middle and talking about them and what they meant. This game and other experiences led to a lifelong relationship with divination. Later on, in University, Carrie learned that the first oracles were probably collection oracles. Shamanic oracles included bones, stones and seeds can be found on just about any continent. Each found piece usually reflected the emotion the diviner was experiencing the day the object was found. She discovered that Oceanic tribes collected shells and other objects near bodies of water, while inland soothsayers and shamans created divination baskets filled with other significant objects like animal hair, teeth and bones as well as coal from a ritual fire.
Found objects were assigned meaning, much of which was tied into a memory from the location they were discovered. This memory or an aspect of remembrance of the day in which the piece was found would later to be incorporated into the divination.
One can feel lost when it comes to divining with collection oracles that aren’t tied into an esoteric system. When this happens, Carrie adopts a piece of advice from her teacher, Angeles Arrien that keeps us connected to our bones: Life would be so easy if you'd just stay connected to a few important bones. Your knee bones so you can kneel and pray for guidance. Your spine so you can stand tall in the face of challenges. Your funny bone so you can have a sense of humor when the challenge is strong. And your mystery bone— a hollow bone that works as a conduit for the mystery to enter your life. Keep this bone open so that the mystery can come in and work you rather than you trying to work it.
The birth of the first Magpie Oracle – which is a pre-collected oracle, I suppose, is a lovely story:
Carrie: When I was studying at U of Kent, the program gave a lot of focus to divining in the ancient world, something I wasn’t totally familiar with. The Convener of the program, Dr. Angela Voss had a strong foot in two worlds; she was both an astrologer and an academic. She knew that I was a tarot diviner and asked me to expand my form of divination by incorporating ancient or non-conventional divination tools. Later that day, someone was talking about Bird Divination and collection oracles. The campus grounds were filled with magpie so I couldn’t ignore the message to try my hand at bird divination and collection oracles. Magpie are known for collecting shiny objects, but what most don’t know is that they also portend an oracle which can be found in a nursery rhyme which determines one’s luck:
(One for sorrow, Two for mirth, Three for a wedding, Four for birth, Five for silver, Six for gold; Seven for a secret, Not to be told; Eight for heaven, Nine for hell, and ten for the devil’s own sell.)
Walking home that day, I found a stone next to a coin, and started collecting things for my oracle. From there my collection oracle grew and I started exploring what everyday objects might be communicating. For example, I started looking at the bottom of my purse and inside the junk drawer only to discover an entire divination system waiting for me.
For the first marketed Magpie Oracle, which is a charm casting set dedicated to Lenormand card imagery, I was divining with the Lenormand Revolution deck and pieces from one of my collection oracles at the same time. One of the pieces from my collection was a toy anchor that landed near the Anchor card. Seeing the two together set off a light bulb and put me on a hunt to find other objects that would match the 36 cards in a Lenormand deck. The majority of what I found were metal charms and from there the first Magpie Oracle was born. I couldn’t predict how people would take to this new way of reading Lenormand, but the Lenormand community loved it and the first batch of 250 sold out in two weeks time.
Jaymi Elford, a noted tarot writer and teacher, asked Carrie, “ What do you mean when you use the word "diviner", and have you any advice for beginners?”
Carrie: I adore Jaymi and her question! I feel like I’ve grown into this title over the years. At one time, when I was very young, being a diviner equaled looking into the future, and this is because at that time in my life, fortune telling was the only style of divining that I was exposed to. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to work with diviners in Mexico, Asia and Europe and broke free of future telling. Now my personal style of divining is akin to being a card curator. It’s all about how the imagery or object prompts an awakening. Through object and imagery my client and I can locate the space or opening where they can enter the picture and find their story’s message or outcome. From there we dialogue and find important piece that represent what they are about to transform, create or transcend. I grew up in a family of artists and my husband is a painter so I’m use to talking about imagery with emotion, which is very similar to a conversation you might find in a tarot reading. By looking and musing about a painting or an oracle we’re giving it space to expand our reality. We’re inviting the image to teach. This in turn gives people a space to express whatever it is that they want to co-create in the world and to be the artist of their own masterpiece. This is where diviners who are just beginning with the cards are so brilliant. They’re not tied into a system or set definitions. They rely on the initial hit that’s inspired by the imagery before them and this hit is usually spot on.
In a gesture of expansiveness, Carrie offered that you don’t really NEED the Magpie Oracle – you can create your own collection oracle. In my case, I didn’t know about collection oracles, and if I’m honest, wouldn’t have been arsed to create my own, anyway. It’s nice to have a starter, and these are so succinct. The Magpie Oracle II’s Keepsake Box started with 100 different pieces, originally, that got whittled down. I’ve actually added a few to my set since I’ve started using it – a habit that Carrie loved hearing about.
Ellen H (a local, amazing tarot reader from St. L) asked about the cultural influences on the charms – since they’re pan-cultural. The first set is based on Lenormand deck imagery—each charm matches a card in a traditional Lenormand deck, i.e., Dog charm for Dog card, Sun charm for Sun card, etc. The second set, the Magpie Oracle II’s Keepsake Box, includes 69 pieces that reflect life themes. Here you will find pieces like a crown, hook, mask, dice, a karma coin, and more. I noticed in giving readings with the charms that there are different metals used with each charm. A client pointed out that it ‘felt right’ that the Karma charm was bronze instead of silver or gold. Carrie said that at the time of making her kit, those were just the metal choices that were available, and that she found it very profound that people are finding meaning in every aspect of the charms. To her, this type of observation, of someone noticing color choices, is really an invitation or starting point for them to enter the divination.
The new set – Magpie Oracle: Tarot Talismans – was directly influenced by the tarot community rising up to ask for them. It’s the Major Arcana, plus charms for the four suits, a ten-sided die and four metal chess pieces to represent the court cards. I can’t wait to check it out.
At this writing, the Magpie Oracle 2 is sold out, there are about 20 of the fourth edition of the Lenormand Oracles left, and a few hundred of the Tarot Talismans which were just released on December 29th. I would seriously consider picking some up as soon as you can. If you’re not able to pick one up, you can always go for a stroll and see what treasures the Universe has left in your path.
**After our interview, Carrie sent a care package to me! I received the two oracle sets I didn't have, and spent the weekend playing with them. I have to learn the Lenormand cards, I think, to use the Lenormand charms (which I've been resisting but FINE, I'll do it), and the Tarot Talismans are just amazing. I gave a friend a reading with a toss of my wrist - it was SO fantastic. When using the charms - I high suggest NOT letting anyone touch or move the charms. How they fall is just as important as the charms that are selected. She also sent a few charms for my kiddos, which were SO appreciated. Particularly the dinosaur and brass knuckles charms. :)
Thank you, Carrie, for your time and for these wonderful tools. Thank you for the Divination history lesson, and for sharing your charms with us.
*All images from Carrie Paris
Cool Carrie Links!
Here’s the Magpie Oracle II’s Emblem Elucidaor link: http://carrieparis.com/magpie-oracle-iis-emblim-elucidator/
Keywords for the Magpie Oracle (Lenormand) http://carrieparis.com/?s=keywords/
A free download for divining time: http://carrieparis.com/free-pdf-booklet-magpie-oracle-time-interpretation-handbook/
Carrie will be releasing a Tarot Talismans keyword chart in the next couple of days.