Review: Oracle Alchemy – The Art of Transformation in Life and Card Reading

Oracle Alchemy –
The Art of Transformation in Life and Card Reading

Author: Ana Cortez
Illustrations: C.J. Freeman
Two Sisters Press
ISBN #9780-6923-3869-8

Oracle of Alchemy cover

“The path of the “truth seeker”, the “oracle alchemist”, is a solitary
path, indeed.  The journey must be personal, or it has no value.
And the road is not clear. It is hazy. We are way makers. And we
find “glimmering nuggets” where we will, seekers of something
the main stream never quite understand.”
~ from the introduction

The work of Ana Cortez is inexorably intertwined with that of her father, C.J. Freeman – a writer and artist who illustrated playing decks for divination, and who wrote several volumes focused on card reading with playing cards. In “Oracle Alchemy”, we essentially have a two part volume – Part One referencing the author’s personal journey to becoming an oracle, Part Two referencing unique techniques that can be applied to any method of card reading, using any type of cards.

Part One is titled “Fractured Fairy Tales”, centered around her eccentric, metaphysically oriented father, and her very practical double Virgo mother. Tea parties, invisible friends, and “Howard”, a character that Cortez’ father would play. Being my father’s daughter, I can imagine how magical and important this part of life was!

Stories of learning to play chess at a young age, and soaping windows on Halloween, alternate with family pictures. For me, stories grow feet through pictures. We also get an inside look at how the divorce of her parents when she was seven affected Cortez. “Normal took on a whole new meaning, including eating disorders and entry into the written world of  Carlos Castenada! A large part of Cortez’ life at this time was dealing with her inner demons.

I love the drawings from C.J. Freeman that are interspersed throughout the book. The images come with an explanation of their “source”, and what they represent. I really love the “Carnival of Lost Souls”, which corresponds to the 9 of Spades. How better could Cortez integrate the cards that her father illustrated into the reality of life!

The “way out” of her shadows was to work on both her physical and mental life. She began meditating, and doing breathing work, working with affirmations, and journaling. She found her way back to herself.

Part Two is entitled “Transformational Card Reading”. Here Cortez gets into the power of the cards, spirituality and science melded into one. She discusses preparing for a reading, talking about her own personal readings only being limited by her ability to access something beyond herself, as well as her own personal goals/expectations. In this way boundaries are created within which to work. She also warns against giving too much power to the physical trappings of a reading (candles, flowers, crystals, etc.).

Cortez notes that questions flow from the preparation for a reading. She notes that words have vibration, history, and intention. She advises the reader to ask questions that matter, and to ask them in a simple form. Interesting to me is that Cortez addresses going within yourself as you shuffle, focusing on your breath, and putting your breath into your cards.

The layout, number of cards used, etc. is something that Cortez sees as personal preference. The reader needs to understand the format they are using, so that they tell the story the cards bring out in an intelligible manner. She also advises treating the cards like a book – rather than flipping cards head over tail, take them off the deck from side to side, as turning the pages in a book.

Also addressed are being stuck in a reading, seeing clients as unique human beings, that the red and black coloring in suits reflect yin and yang, that the Nine’s represent doors, and act as opposites within the same color.

I found the information in this book to be easy to access, and easy to work with. It opens up what the tool of reading with playing cards can really be.

Cortez asserts that card reading is a “perfect metaphor” for life, and that “We can have the life of our dreams using card reading techniques.” I see the cards acting as the gateway to the life that we envision. My advice – be open to the wealth of wisdom residing in this little (129 page) book!

© May 2015 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction prohibited without written permission of the author.