I had intended to post this mini-review a while ago, however, I managed to either delete or misplace my original notes (I’ve looked and looked but they’ve mysteriously disappeared, and I have no idea what happened…).
The good news is that because of this mishap I’ve had time to digest my thoughts about the deck itself. I feel like most people tend to be too quick to post reviews, walkthroughs, and “first impressions” of products anyway, and I’d like to at least once in a while go against that trend. To offer more nuanced thoughts.
I believe it’s doing both the community and the deck creators a disservice to not give something that’s intended to be used practically the proper attention it deserves. Experienced cartomancer will know how much the experience of working with a deck can change over time, and this doesn’t always seem to be accounted for. With that lengthy introduction, let’s get down to business (cards)!
Not Your Typical Angel Oracle
Angel oracle cards have a notoriously bad reputation for being very tacky and tasteless. Apart from a handful of notable angel-themed tarot decks, this certainly still seems to be the case. Thankfully, Angelarium truly is a much welcome exception. Here the angel archetypes get a much-needed aesthetic visual overhaul that actually does inspire reverence. These giant, almost alien, beings are simultaneously arcane and high-tech, as if existing outside of time and space.
Peter Mohrbacher captures the surrealism as well as mythic qualities of angelic visions perfectly with his skilled art style. Even if it leans heavily towards fantasy, these depictions do highlight the sense of “otherness” and even androgyny that we so rarely see illustrated when it comes to angels in the “mainstream” these days.
11 of the angel cards are easily identified and simply maps onto the spheres of the Tree of Life. Despite that, ever since I got my hands on this deck I have been puzzled by the other 22 angel cards and could not see how they fitted into the bigger picture. You’d think it would be obvious how they correspond to the 22 paths and consequently the Major Arcana. But in my knowledge, albeit limited as it may be, it didn’t make sense (and it still doesn’t). Sure, some of the angel names I recognized and were familiar with, yet others deluded me.
Although I tried my best to do some research, I came up short. That’s until I saw Foolish Fish’s video overview of the very same deck in question. There he points out some of the possible sources of the names of the Angels which you can view at your own leisure here:
Spoiler alert: It’s Neon Genesis Evangelion!
I will add that I agree with his opinion that the attribution to these 22 cards feels very much like UPS or Unverified Personal Gnosis. This is perfectly fine in and of itself, but it’s not ok to not mention this anywhere, as it comes across as disingenuous. But since the guidebook tells us nothing about the sources or reasoning behind anything, it might as well be arbitrarily, which is even worse.
Face Like an Angel
All that being said, I absolutely love and adore the artwork! And considering how cheap this box of cards is priced, then that almost makes it worth it just on its own. Because the art truly is top-notch and breathtakingly beautiful.
Even if I think it sort of misses the mark as a practical and working oracle deck, I still find a use for at least the 11 Sefirot cards, either as study tools, inspiration, or contemplative meditation. It might not be “my go-to” deck, but it’s a keeper nonetheless.
For those that aren’t as concerned with Kabbalistic associations and magical theory as me, and basically just want a cool deck to look at or supplement either their tarot reads or compliment an oracle deck collection, then this might be for you. And trust me, this is no tame and boring angel deck at all.
The included guidebook could have been improved by being fleshed out just a tad bit more, however, it’s translated into multiple languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and German), which I actually think is a nice touch. This makes it even more accessible and useful for a broader audience, and perhaps it will help in restoring the coolness of angels where they belong!
Lastly a shout out to my good friend Carol for gifting me this deck! Thank you!
If you enjoy my reviews and work in general, and want to be an awesome supportive person, you can buy me coffee here or treat me with something off my Amazon wishlist. I’ll happily return the favor in form of a tarot read. And if you buy something off my list I’ll review it.