The Sibyls Oraculum: Oracle of the Black Doves of Africa is an Oracle deck created by cultural anthropologist Tayannah Lee McQuillar, with artwork by multimedia artist Katelan V. Foisy, and published by Destiny Books, Rochester, Vermont. The Oracle comes in a nice sturdy cardboard container with glossy color images on the front and a bit of information about the Oracle on the back. Inside the box are the 44-card deck and the companion book.
The cards themselves are 3” x 5”; each card is printed in glossy color on both the front and the back. The images on the Oracle cards, appearing to be ancient mosaics, in glossy color are taken from beautiful full-color paintings created by Katelan V. Foisy, is filled with the powerful symbolism found within Libyan mosaics created in the first century BCE. The art on the back of the cards, also in color and glossy, is of a black dove, the namesake of the Oracle, and is color-coded in order to create four subsets for divination interpretation purposes.
The companion book is 6” x 9” and contains 147 pages printed on white paper with an easy-to-read black font, bound in glossy softcover with an image of the Oracle’s black dove on the front cover and four sample card images on the back cover. The companion book begins with a brief history of the African Sibyls, the forgotten source of the sibylline traditions that are the theme of this Oracle, and a brief tutorial on how to use the symbols in the Oracle, as well as a few ethical considerations to keep in mind.
Next is a substantial section describing the structure of the Oracle itself and the system McQuillar created for using the cards. There is a description of the four color-coded divination segments: Core Issue cards (black, representing the spiritual issues connected to the issue), Projection cards (copper, representing mental rationalizations and justifications regarding the issue), Blue Action cards (representing the internal state of mind affecting the issue), and Red Action cards (representing the external response affecting the issue). There is a description of the process suggested for using the Oracle (including examples of how to correctly phrase a question for the Oracle), as well as reading examples, journaling recommendations, and a detailed section on how to make use of the messages received in a reading.
The section on card meanings is information-filled 85 pages long and is divided into Core Issue, Projection, Blue Action and Red Action cards, with most of the card entries consisting of two pages. For each card entry there is a card image, the name of the card in Latin and English, an inscription, a description of the key symbols in the image of the card, religio-mythological associations describing the Deities corresponding to the images and meanings of each card, a detailed commentary, and a divinatory meaning, with the Core Issue cards also having questions for the seeker to consider. At the end of the book are brief bios of the author and artist, a suggested reading list, and a list of books focusing on related interests.
While the cards are both beautiful and powerfully effective, I feel that some of the images could be a bit clearer. I occasionally found myself holding a card under a bright light in order to attempt to see the image more clearly. Also the color differences, black, copper, blue and red, on the back of the cards do not immediately stand out, and I still have difficulty telling the red and copper cards apart.
Even those issues have not discouraged me from working daily with this beautiful Oracle. The companion book is a valuable and well-written resource filled with fascinating information about the African Sybils, the sibylline traditions, and the symbols used in the Oracle, as well as the individual cards and their messages. I have been using these cards to supplement my daily Tarot card throw, and I find that without fail they integrate seamlessly with my Tarot cards. A beginner would be able to use this Oracle with ease, and an experienced reader could use these cards to add depth and texture to a Tarot reading, or as a stand-alone divination tool. The card stock is somewhat flimsy, but not enough to discourage me from using the cards regularly.
In the Sibyls Oraculum, McQuillar has created a valuable tool for addressing the spiritual lessons underlying the experiences of living that pays homage to the long lineage of Sibyls and Oracles of the past, the present, and into the future.
About the Author:
Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher. Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.