Better Together: The Lumina Tarot and The Alchemist's Oracle
The Alchemist's Oracle came out not long after I had purchased my Wild Unknown Tarot. Up until then, I didn't really give much credence to oracle decks because I dismissed them as cheesy. I know the best of us do deserve a good Oprah cheesefest every now and then, but I just couldn't respond to angels, spirit guides, and the like—I wanted something pretty but practical. Case in point, my only oracle deck was the Morgan's Tarot, a black and white, hippy-dippy doodle deck from the 60s… something with a sense of humor and lots of irony.
Then I discovered the Alchemist's Oracle and was so incredibly grateful someone finally came out with an oracle deck that wasn't saccharine sweet. Created by Lauren Aletta of Inner Hue, the deck showcases both positive and negative themes alongside beautiful pen and ink illustrations that went perfectly with The Wild Unknown. While not exactly alike, the art styles are complementary enough—I would say that the Alchemist's Oracle and The Wild Unknown aren't sibling decks, but more like cousins. Related, but not directly.
I got the first edition and my only beef with it was the cardstock. After a couple of riffle shuffling and uses, the edges began to fray and the ink began to look splotchy. The cards held a bit of friction between them so they weren't the easiest deck to fan out on a table (I found that tossing them in a Ziploc bag with some baby powder and shaking them for five minutes, helped a lot).
A few months after I'd been playing around with my Alchemist's Oracle, Inner Hue had announced that they were coming out with a tarot deck too. WHUT!, I thought. The Lumina Tarot carried the same pen and ink-style drawings of its sister oracle deck, but this time with a good amount of people smattered around the courts and other major arcana. This deck truly sets Inner Hue's creations apart from The Wild Unknown—in art style, theme, and depictions, it's a style all its own.
When I ordered the Lumina, I decided to send Lauren a note, to tell her that my Alchemist's Oracle was beginning to fray and become spotty. And very unexpectedly, she wrote me back and apologized for the stock, and said that she hoped that the wear came from the deck being truly well-loved. Then, she told me that she would send me a new deck free of charge.
At best, I was hoping I could purchase a new deck at a discount so Lauren's note totally blew me away. I am so grateful to her and any chance someone asks me about her decks, I immediately encourage them to go and support her because her heart is really, really in her work and her creations. <3
Both decks came just a few days before Christmas, which meant that I had a very very fun unboxing on December 24th. The second version of the Alchemist's Oracle had thick, sturdy, smooth matte card stock not unlike that of the Lumina's (I can now rest easy about the wear and tear of my original!). Riffle shuffling is kind of impossible with these two decks because they're so large and thick—my clients find that cutting the deck in several parts and just putting them back together randomly works better than overhand shuffling them.
I know the Lumina has gotten some slack for its model-looking depictions of people, but having worked in the magazine industry for years and years, I'm not bothered by it. Pretty and perfect, after all, are subjective concepts. If it looks good to me and I can connect to it, then that's all I really care about.
From the color schemes to the card backs to the art style, these two go together perfectly and are better for it. Occasionally, I still mix things up and pair the Lumina with The Wild Unknown's Animal Spirit deck, or the Alchemist's Oracle with The Wild Unknown, but no pairing is more symbiotic than Inner Hue's two decks together.
I find I tend to pull from these two decks towards the cooler months (October, November, December), maybe because the dark backings and the brooding quality of the images match my mood this time of year. Needless to say, I encourage anyone who's interested in any of these two decks to go for the purchase—not just because these are beautiful creations that can add so much to one's collection, but also because Lauren is such a generous and kind-hearted soul!