For most of my life, I had practiced some kind of spiritual magic. I had been lucid dreaming since I was very young – I can remember my first lucid dream at the age of 9. I had loved the stories about gemstones and their energetic and spiritual and metaphysical properties. I only had a vague idea of what Tarot cards or Oracle cards were, but I had heard about them.

The first time I found myself really drawn to an Oracle deck was 1992 or 1993. I had just graduated high school, and I was working my first full-time job. One evening, I went to my favorite bookstore and was perusing the books in the metaphysical section  – I had always been drawn to these books and their stories. I had no idea that I was about to discover and purchase my first oracle deck.

As I perused the books on the shelves, my eyes fell on a large blue box that said Animal Medicine Cards. They drew me in right away with the images of the animals (I was working as a veterinary tech at the time) and the themes drawn from Native American medicine.

I was dog-sitting and house-sitting for a client at the time, and I remember sitting in the upstairs den with their enormous, friendly and (enormously hairy) golden retriever by my side as I looked at the book and spread the cards out in front of me. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but I started turning over cards and reading their meanings in the book. One at a time, over and over. I didn’t know how to put together a spread. I don’t think I even pulled animal totems for myself, like it suggested in the book. I just wanted to look and learn and read about the energy of each animal portrayed on the cards.

Eventually, I put them away. And then I lost them. I moved so many times over the next 8 years, until I finally found myself living in upstate New York to finish college and find a job and somehow become a contributing member of society. So I put the cards away, but the book kept showing up. Every time I perused my bookshelves, there it was. I’d take it out, flip through it, then put it back. I’d lose it for a while, then find it. But the cards themselves never turned up, even when I deliberately went looking for them. (Bummer.)


Then last year, just as I decided that I was ready to do more Tarot readings for other people and to really learn how to read Tarot, my close friend showed up at my house with a late Christmas present. It was the end of January, and we hadn’t seen each other for over a month, but she came with a box for me. As I unwrapped it and realized what it was, I nearly started to cry out of joy – it was a brand new set of Animal Medicine cards.

I was so ready to start playing with these cards again and learning from them! It felt as though I had come full circle back to the place where I began with this deck more than 20 years ago as I took my baby steps towards discovering my spirituality and my true inner nature.

When I first purchased this deck all those years ago, I had no idea what to do with the blank cards meant to add your own animal totems. This time, however, I had been working with the energy of Tiger, and I found the right image to make my very own animal medicine card for the deck.

While I don’t use this deck every single day, it is such a fabulous reference for me when I see an animal as a message from Spirit. The information in the book tells me everything I need to know about the animal medicine trying to make itself known in my life. Even if I don’t do regular readings for myself with this deck, it’s still a wonderful way for me to keep the energy of these animals near so that I can work with it throughout the day or the week. And of course, it’s a wonderful reminder of my friendship with the woman who gave it to me!

Do you have a deck that you absolutely love, but that you don’t use for readings? Tell me what it is, and how you use it!