This latest Playing Card Oracles: Alchemy Edition Deck is the third published deck by my dad, C.J. Freeman (1941 – 2010.) This to me, is the most compelling so far. Perhaps it is the rich pallet, the almost gelatin like expressions in some of the figures, or perhaps it is just too many hours spent in photo editing staring at these things.
Whatever the cause, I am having a love affair with oracle images.
One thing that adds to my love problem is that these images were painted large (maybe huge is a better word? most being 30″ x 42.5″) and that means not only are the faces and torso’s as big as your own, but the closer you look the more entrancing detail you find. They are from another time, another world. To stand in front of these original paintings is to be transported.
All in all there are 51 paintings (all four of the 7’s in the deck use the same image,) created by my dad about 35 years ago for an extraordinary playing card deck. It was a completely original idea at the time, only slightly less so now in 2015. I believe that his formerly main stream published deck (The Playing Card Oracles, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.,) helped to turn the tide and create a larger awareness of playing cards as more than just for games. It created an opening, preparing the way for this perhaps even more dramatic display of Oracle art in this new Alchemy Edition Deck.
Maybe you can tell by just looking at these first few images that my dad was a renegade. He never did anything by rote. As he used to say, “I want to figure out the puzzle for myself.” So he would go inward. He had a tremendous connection to the spirit world and was what I call a “natural mystic.” He began painting his own deck of playing cards as a “self assigned art project” back in the late 70’s, and what came out on the canvas startled even him. Once he saw what was coming forward, he began researching the history of playing cards to see if there was any explanation for what was happening. This is what you find in this deck, and the beginning of what was eventually written of in our combined creative exposé, The Playing Card Oracles, A Source Book for Divination. A whole world of interlinking concepts for the practical application of the esoteric took shape, all given form and direction by the playing cards.
So what you will find in this new deck is 52 cards of traditional suit and number (plus 2 jokers) with very untraditional imagery. My dad used to point out how very generic playing card figures had become over the centuries. He wanted to revitalize them and return them to something exciting and alive.
In this work there is some strong imagery, imagery that some people may find offensive or fearful. Yet this is one of the most beautiful and important qualities of this deck. It is vital in card reading to have images that move a person, that evoke. This is how life is. Cards give us an opportunity to get closer acquainted with our fears, so that we may ultimately overcome them. This is what makes cards useful, powerful, and ultimately transformative.
So when my dad passed in 2010, I don’t think he had any hope remaining that these original images, a piece of his own soul torn and put onto canvas, would ever really see the light of day. They had been hauled around from so many different storage areas for so many years. (See related blog article HERE.) Over time, not only were paintings becoming seriously damaged, but also starting to disappear. I think my dad gave away a few in a true King of Hearts gesture of drunken generosity, and it all seemed like a fantastic dream that was drifting further and further out of reach.
So this deck is really a dream come true. It has been a pleasure for me to finally bring the world this art, as well as expose more people to the revolutionary divinatory ideas that accompany it. I know that whatever scale this project achieves, the world will never be the same as it was before.
I like the name “Alchemy Edition,” for this deck. It is a way of looking at cards and the art of card reading that goes beyond predictions of doom and gloom or personal fortune. Cards reveal energies. They make energies visible. In bringing what is normally hidden into conscious awareness, something extraordinary begins to take place. As card readers we are potentially much more than purveyors of fortune, we are energy workers, bringing opportunity for growth, awareness, and transformation, which is the heart of alchemy.
New Alchemy Edition decks come with instructional PDF booklet including card meanings and other essential information helpful for using your cards for insight and self reflection, but recommended for use with The Playing Card Oracles, A Source Book for Divination (sold separately.) This is the book created in collaboration between my father (C.J. Freeman) and myself. It gives you card layouts specific for this deck that actually allow you to use the deck as a calendar (cool, huh?) plus in depth suit and number meanings, interpretation techniques, history, and more, more, more all original material.