This is a deck that’s been on my list for a long time, but it’s been off it a bunch of times because, while it’s a cool looking deck, there are several things that bug me. But in the end I figured it wouldn’t be a huge loss if I ended up not using it… Honestly, there is really only one card in the deck that made me need it, although some others did help 😛 (Also, reading American Gods was probably the last straw that made me break down and get it now. Heh.)
Okay, so where do I start… First, I do like Jimmy Manton’s artwork, but it gets busy in the long run. Looking at the cards one by one is fine, so I suppose this is a deck for daily singe-card draws. But more of them together is a bit much. I very quickly get enough of the action poses, it’s exhausting. Like, they’re in every damn card, no matter what deity is depicted. And they’re dressed like male equivalents of Zena or Leia in the gold bikini. It’s ridiculous. Now, on some cards that’s fine, it more or less fits the type of clothing of the area they belong to, but come on. I refuse to believe that all of them have been traditionally depicted with armor like this…
No, vikings never had horned helmets. And why the fuck are the Norse gods naked? I can promise you they’d have put some more clothes on during the Scandinavian winter.
Okay, Ares here just looks like a fucking maniac, and there are plenty of other gods in this deck that look more ready for war than him. Marvel-Thor doesn’t really look that ready for action either (also, he shouldn’t be so damn naked, it’s cold up here in Norway).
Second, I’m not sure what I think about the selection of gods and creatures in this deck. I sorted and counted, and the Greek pantheon is the biggest group, by far, with 13 cards. Next is Egypt, with 5 cards. Norse, Celtic and Indian have 4 cards each. There are 2 Mayan gods, and only one each of Chinese, Japanese, Australian, Polynesian and Roman pantheons, and then Mithras, whose origins are vague and all over the place, so I wasn’t sure where to group him.
So yeah… I feel like Greece (and Europe in general, really) is way over represented, there could be more Egyptian gods, although there’s somewhat of an overlap in these regions. I suppose more Egyptian gods could replace some Greek ones, but maybe that depends how you choose to see them, and what concepts they need to fill in the deck. I would like to see more deities from other regions, like the rest of Africa, more of America, more Asian ones… I’m surprised there aren’t more Indian deities. And I’d really like some ancient Middle Eastern ones, like Sumerian and Babylonian, although you’d have the same problem there as with the Greek/Roman/Egyptian pantheon.
On the other hand, I’m not sure all of those deities I feel are missing should really be included, because so many of them are pretty much off-limits for everyone but the people they belong to. Still, more varied representation would be nice. I guess it wouldn’t be too problematic to have deities from closed religions in an oracle deck, as long as it’s used symbolically, like any other oracle deck. The problem with this deck, is that the guidebook gives you an invocation or a prayer to each god (although why anyone would want to invoke Typhon is beyond me), as if they’re all just handed to you as tools for your practice. Idk, it feels icky.*
As for the rest of the guidebook, I have to admit that I don’t know enough about many of the gods to say if the info about them is correct or not. I can only speak for the Egyptian, which I’ve actually studied a bit (plenty of Egyptology courses at the university), some Norse and some Greek. I know little about Indian gods and nothing about the rest in this deck. Which is sad, so I should start researching. I suppose that’s one good thing that this deck can do – make people read 🙂
And finally, here are some of the cards that I do like 😀
*Now, I suppose I should say that I’m not a very religious or even spiritual person. Religion is fine, what I struggle with is all the personal touch-feely stuff that just doesn’t make sense to me. I’m an atheist on a good day and a polytheist on a bad day (or the other way around, depending on how you see it), it’s all of them or none at all. And yet, I’ve never had a personal relationship with any of them. I grew up Christian (Lutheran Protestant), but I never felt Jesus in my heart, like it seems you’re supposed to. I practiced, sure, but I never felt anything. Gods just aren’t personal to me. Religion is a practical thing, about the things you do rather than what you feel and believe. I’ve never really had faith. So, that’s why it feels so weird for me to be handed a book of prayers to a bunch of gods that have nothing to do with me, and it doesn’t help that it’s presented in a way that just feels way too personal for me. This is not how I’d do religion. I’m not even sure which pantheon I’d be more into? I could choose the Norse ones, since I’m Norwegian, but to be honest I like the Egyptian gods better. I have a thing for Set, probably because I tend to like asshole characters, and trickster gods are always interesting. Plus, anything Ancient Egypt is fancy 🙂 Still, I don’t think I’d get myself to worship them, though. And if I did, it wouldn’t be through some fluffy prayer in a language they wouldn’t understand, and probably at the wrong time of year or something. (Besides, very few ever worshiped Set anyway. If anything, he was ritually destroyed, not called upon. At least not in peace times.) Nah, if I go Norse, which is the most likely, it’ll be the whole thing, with blot in the winter and shit.
Note: This deck’s sister deck, the Goddesses and Sirens, is on its way. I just couldn’t have this on its own, I needed to complete the set. I’ll probably do a review of that one as well, and I’ll add the link here when it’s up.