Deck Name: Angelarium: Oracle of Emanations
Creator(s): Eli Minaya and Peter Mohrbacher
Publisher & Year: Lo Scarabeo, 2017
Angelarium: Oracle of Emanations is an oracle deck by Peter Mohrbacher. It features divine figures that guard the 33 paths on the Kabbalah’s tree of life.
Although I’ve never been drawn to the images of angels, I was immediately captured by this deck because it presents these heavenly beings in a fundamentally different way. The angels in this deck aren’t the stereotypical images of beautiful winged men and women with effortlessly perfect hair in long white robes. Far from the angels on the Sistine Chapel, these angels can be dark and disturbing. Instead of bright eyes and sweet smiles, many of these angels have no human faces at all. Such absence produces an eerie and haunting image.
As unsettling as the faceless angels are, even more intimidating are the angels who do possess faces. Their expressions are stern and their skins look more like creatures from a horror movie than something to be featured in an angel oracle deck.
At first, I was shocked. After reading a bit more about angels, however, I discovered that angels haven’t always been pretty. Apparently, they’ve been depicted in some pretty strange ways in the bible. Often times, when an angel visits a mortal, they have to begin their conversations by shouting ‘fear not!’
These fearsome angels make me think about the divine in different ways. Modern new age literature often describes the divine as a source of light and love. Almost no one ever talks about the angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament anymore. We are constantly replacing the frightening with the comforting. We see this in tarot through the ever evolving images of the Death and Tower cards. These traditionally sombre cards grow more and more positive with time.
While I generally don’t prefer the medieval God, I think that aspect of the divine has a place in this world. Today, we seem to forget that God isn’t just love and mercy, but also justice and punishment. The Angelarium oracle reminds me of this fearsome aspect of the divine.
At first, seeing holy beings being depicted in this manner was unsettling. At the same time, however, it was intriguing. In spite of their gruesome appearance, there is also a grace and beauty about them that can’t be denied.
It is one of the most powerful and emotionally rewarding decks of cards I have ever worked with. It transformed my understanding of beauty. And as my understanding evolved, so did my feelings towards these angels. Gradually, the unsettling emotions were replaced with a sense of serenity.
I began to notice the gentleness of their postures. Each emanation is protecting an orb with great care and devotion. The facial expressions that I originally found scary became sincere and patient. Their deteriorating bodies, which used to remind me of zombies, now signified the endurance of their commitment to protect their orbs. Even as their flesh falls apart until all that remains is a skeleton, they remain faithful to their duties. They sacrifice themselves willingly in order to maintain and uphold the balance of this world.
So beautiful, it’s a deck I can stare at all day. I love the use of colour and light contrast. I love the borderless edges.
Most of all, I love the universality of these images. While the deck is based off of Kabbalah, all these figures are beyond religion and race. These beings speak to the most ancient parts of our humanity and soul. They remind us of the knowledge we lost somewhere in the beginning of time and connects us with the most fundamental aspects of Creation.
My only lament about this deck is the briefness of the guide book. All these figures are so interesting and I want to read more about them! Unfortunately, the description of each card is only about half a page each printed on a 3.5 x 5′ guidebook.
But then again, these cards are so beautiful that they speak for themselves.
To purchase this deck or discover more of Mohrbacher’s works, visit the Angelarium website.
For more oracle and tarot deck reviews, please visit Forbidden Fruit Tarot.