Tarot and oracle decks abound in many styles, themes, and practices. From traditional images to pop-culture characters, deck creators are tapping into their experiences to bring creative and relevant ways to connect during divination experiences.
Favorite and well-known Gods and Goddesses are often the subjects of decks, individually or as part of a collective. This is an amazing way to learn more about and connect with the different beings of a pantheon, a tradition of spiritual practice, or aspects of a particular God or Goddess that is expressed with the deck. Designers draw inspiration from the myths/stories, personalities, and traits of the Gods to develop correlations to divination responses.
The Oracle of Nehalennia is such a deck. This deck is created by Bela Síol with beautiful watercolor artwork by Igor Alexandre about the Dutch Goddess, Nehalennia. The deck has 33 square cards and comes with a full color book that is in English and Portuguese (Síol’s native language). Through this colorful deck, Síol carefully explores the many ways that Nehalennia is known, has revealed Herself today, and how those traits can provide inspirational messages.
Nehalennia is a Goddess known from the southern coastal region of the Netherlands called Zeeland. She was honored locally and by the merchants who came to the regions to transport their goods by sea. Not much has survived about this Goddess by the sea, and she had almost fallen into almost complete obscurity until a storm in 1645 exposed the remains of a temple devoted to Her in Domburg.
In the early 1970s near the town of Colijnsplaat, votive stones with inscriptions to Nehalennia were recovered from the sea which inspired more research into this unknown entity. The stones (most of which appear to come from the region of Köln) typically depict a seated woman in roman style clothing with a basket of bread or fruit, the bow of a ship behind her, and a dog seated at her feet. They would have been lavishly decorated and bear inscriptions which generally indicate them as an offering to the Goddess by merchants or ship captains as an offering for safe passage across the sea for their ship and cargo. This would associate her with the liminal coastal region of land and sea, travel (particularly over water), merchants, property, loyalty, and a connection to the sea.
Síol explains that she experienced the presence of Nehalennia first as an unknown being, meaning she did not seek Nehalennia out. It was only after working with the Goddess closely, that she learned more about Her nature and identity. The cards represent different aspects known about Nehalennia as well as generating divination interpretations to associations with the merchants, sea-farers, and people of the region.
Within the book are very detailed descriptions of the scene on the card and how it connects to Nehalennia directly (such as through recovered lore, experiences of Her followers today, or archaeological revelations) or how other aspects are connected such as with harbors, beaches, shells, etc. The book then continues with possible divination interpretations depending on the type of situation or question from the user. This can include something as simple as a “yes/no” inquiry, immediate advice on a situation, or personal, mental, and emotional contexts.
When asked about the different context options for the meanings, Síol replied that since there are so many different ways to approach divination with an inquiry and different layers to what is revealed, she wanted to show just some of the potential ways that a card could be interpreted. This helps to explore the other ways the images and connection to the Goddess can be explored and applied in a divinatory setting. The book also includes a few sample spreads created to accompany the oracle.
The artwork is by artist Igor Alexandre who worked with Síol to create bright, colorful images that include classical elements. The bright water color style works well to evoke a connection to the past that is fitting for Nehalennia. Síol commented that during the creative process, she would have an idea for a card and upon communicating it to Alexandre, found out that he also had the same or very similar idea.
The card stock is thicker than regular cards and the square, oversized shape makes them difficult to shuffle (riffling would crease and ruin them quickly). Reading with them, however, is a joy. Knowing the story of Nehalennia and Her connections to the sea and trading brings the divination experience to a deeper meaning.
Check out the interview with Bela on episode 22 of the podcast where she discusses her connection to Nehalennia. She is also working on other decks for release including The Morrighan and Freya. The Oracle of Nehalennia is available from www.belasiol.com.
Follow me on Instagram: @wyrdgifts1 Facebook: @giftsofthewyrd Twitter: @wyrdgifts #goddessnehalennia #wyrdgifts #giftsofthewyrdpodcast #heidhrcraft #runestersofinstagram #inclusiveheathenry