The Messenger Cards: Guidance from the Animal Spirits is a self-published oracle deck by Canadian artist and intuitive Sandra Kunz. The multi-media artwork is stunning. The beauty in the simplicity of some cards (swallow, frog) is as effective as the textures and complexity of other cards (spider, elk). The card stock is standard playing card thickness. The 4.25" square cards are easy to overhand or riffle shuffle. Call me quirky, but I measured the cards and they are 108mm square - that is really cool! The simple, staple-bound LWB is also square and a little larger than the cards. Both the LWB and the cards fit in the organza bag included with the cards.
With Sandra's permission, from the lovely welcome message in the LWB:
"Welcome. I invite you to allow these cards to be a gateway to your spirit guides. It is my belief that animal spirits are, in fact, not really animals but multi-dimensional beings that appear to us in a form that we can easily relate to. No matter where you are on your journey, they will meet you there with love, compassion, wisdom and grace. And it is with joy and pleasure that they guide you to your higher self, and assist you in living your life as a fully empowered and authentic being."
The 43 cards include spiritual guidance from 25 different creatures from the animal kingdom. The majority of cards are messages from raven (11) and one from white raven. There are 6 butterfly cards, 3 hummingbird and 3 dragonfly. The jaguar appears on one of hummingbird cards, the remainder of the cards are different four legged and feathered friends, as well as one spider card. Looking at the cards from an element perspective it is an air heavy deck. Four creatures are connected to the water: swan, otter, frog and and turtle. There are no sea creatures. Eleven animals walk upon Mother Earth (as do the frog, turtle, otter and swan). Although there are no magical creatures to represent the ether, there is a sense of other-worldliness in card #3 The Illusionist (dragonfly) and #43 The Keeper of Magic (raven). I have a sense as well that #42 Enter the Cave (bear) is very much in spirit and not on this plane either.
For the most part, the messages from the animal spirits in the guidebook read as direct wisdom from the animals themselves, rather than a description of that particular animal's medicine (though, that too is included for a select few). As well, the author has included a card description for some cards. In a future edition it would be nice to see these parts separated out and included for each animal. For example:
4. Fertile Ground Elk
"The elk is gazing at the moon and black sky with full surrender and peace, and at the same time has his feet firmly planted in the rich mosaic of abundance that life offers us when we let go and allow ourselves to just Be."
Spirit Message from Elk: "We have created everything in our surroundings from the fertile ground we stand on in the present moment. Often we look to the past or the future for happiness and fulfilment when it really exists within ourselves in the present moment. It is impossible for the duality of our ego to live in present moment and the more we surrender our concerns of the past and future to the universe, the less we create barriers to what we desire. It is only in this present moment that we can truly feel the unconditional love and support of the universe."
Then possibly add :
Elk Medicine: "The animal spirit of Elk is one of strength, nobility, pride, survival and stamina. The Elk totem can be one of your directions in the Medicine Wheel or sometimes it will come to you for a small journey when you need to be reminded to pace yourself on a project. To protect your stamina until the project is complete.Elk may also come to you when you need to be reminded how important community is. Read further to find out more about the good medicine of Elk." Source: http://native-american-totems.com/animal-totem-medicines/elk/
(I just find it odd how inconsistent the voice is throughout Sandra's guidebook.)
My Favourite Cards (in no particular order):
OUR SACRED SELVES (Dove): There is a sense of divinity in this painting and the splashes of red take me to Christian symbology. I can imagine the dove as a symbol of the Marys landing on Jesus' shoulder as he was flogged or some other dreadful part of his last days on this earth. The dove reminds each of us that we are sacred beings having a human experience for the evolution of our souls and that if we get distracted by the blood or the general drama of earthly existence, we can easily forget why we are here. Make, recognize and be in as many sacred moments as you can every single day.
ENTER THE CAVE (Bear): Sometimes we all need to retreat, whether it is for our sanity, recovery or for reflection. Taking the time to be comfortable with being alone and being in trust is such an important part of each soul's journey. Without this time alone in the cave, it is easy to get lost in the busyness of life and turn away from Spirit. The bear instinctively knows when to enter into hibernation for rest, healing and digestion. If we look at digestion as a metaphor for how we digest life, taking time to hibernate and reflect is an integral part in our soul's evolution.
RISING ABOVE (Swallow): There is a lightness of being in this painting. Feel the air in your wings and allow your spirit to soar. Even though the swallow is a tiny bird, you can feel her grandeur, gracefulness and strength in the image. Swallow teaches us not to get caught up in the dense energy of earthly existence, but to rise above to gain a more soulful perspective.
* Note about guidebook:
The voice in the guidebook changes between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person. It would be great in the revision of it were more consistent. Current guidebook: "Call upon Swallow for assistance to rise above your present circumstances to see the miracle in this moment . . . " Instead, if it were to match other pages it could read: Rise above your present circumstances to see the miracle in this moment . . . Enough said.
HEART OF FIRE (Wolf): The wolf is the first power animal that I met on my shamanic journeys. I was surprised to see how closely I was guided and supported by the motherly energy of the pack. She never wanted me to get too far ahead. That was a challenging time in my life and to know that my vulnerability was protected, yet at the same time I was being encouraged to howl at the moon. As deeply as the wolf is connected to the wisdom of the earth, she is intimate with the energy of the skies, the ancestors and the divine. Hear the "om" in the howl of the wolf.
THE DESTINY OF ONE (Spider): I've always been intrigued by the web, energy, ley lines - even knitting. To contemplate how we are connected with the land, every soul, every sacred structure is as inspiring as it is discombobulating. The ancient ones knew that we were all one and that what we did to ourselves, we did to our family members. For me, one of the greatest pieces of gold comes from the shamanic tradition and the realization that the work each of us do will heal seven generations in all directions of time. Is that not reason enough to surrender and live in trust? Om Purnamadah!
A Final Word:
The art and the keywords on the cards make this a versatile oracle deck to use on its own or to complement a reading that uses other oracles. If you are fascinated with the mystery and magic of Raven, you will LOVE this deck. The keywords on the cards carry such a powerful message that even beginning readers will be able to use the cards without referencing the guidebook.
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