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Victorian Flower Oracle Kit: The Wit and Wisdom of JJ Grandville's Flowers Personified [Cards]

Karen Mahony , Alex Ukolov
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Cards: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Magic Realist Press; Tcr Crds edition (22 Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190557200X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905572007
  • Product Dimensions: 21.7 x 16.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,531,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


This is a Victorian delight depicting the magic and language of flowers. This is a gorgeous, evocative deck of 40 oracle cards based on the flower-personified illustrations of famed Victorian artist JJ Grandville, taken from an original 1847 hand-coloured copy of his "Fleurs Animees". This beautiful kit draws on age-old beliefs about the special magic and symbolism of flowers. Every flower is exquisitely depicted as a woman, and each card is a small work of art. It is complete with a charming and informative companion book, which includes: the symbolic meaning of each flower; myths and beliefs about flowers; gardening notes; the history of Grandville illustrations; and instructions for using the deck as an oracle.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Flower Oracle 28 April 2009
By Ella
Format:Cards|Verified Purchase
I loved these cards as soon as I saw them. They are beautiful and the meanings just add to the beauty. I love to pull one of these cards everyday or even every couple of days. It's funny but when you pull a card it's explanation always seems so apt for that moment. The companion book gives very thorough and detailed explanations of the flowers and then the interpretation of the cards.

I thought I would pull a card to see what would come up, so I could give you an example. The card I pulled was called Forget-me-not.
This card means goodbye's and farewells. Not all people in our lives are good for us and it's sometimes best to leave them behind and say goodbye. Farewells can be sad if you are never going to see that person again. Other times it's for the best and makes for a happier life without them.....I thought this was very apt..as I split from my husband and won't see him again, so this goodbye was definitely for the best.
It just amazes me each time I use these cards how accurate they are to the situation. If you like Oracle cards, you will love these for their meanings and for the rich beautiful colours used in the illustrations, they are designed by Karen Mahoney and Alex Ukolov with a companion book by Sheila Hamilton. If you love Oracle cards BUY these!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful 30 Jun 2010
By Louisa
Format:Cards|Verified Purchase
I have many angel oracle decks as well as tarot. The Victorian Flower oracle cards drew my attention as something so different. Having purchased them I am delighted with them. Love the colours which are not too garish, I also like the details on each card which really speak out to me. As Sheila Hamilton says in her accompanying book "you can use the keywords or look at what the picture tells you directly" I find these cards sensitive and easy to read, pleasing to the eye and very accurate. So pleased I bought them and I know I will have a long and happy relationship with them. If you love victorian art and flowers you will enjoy using this oracle set and the bonus is the accuracy they deliver.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very usable and gorgeous oracle deck.... 21 Nov 2006
By Rashchupkina - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Cards|Verified Purchase
If you love anything victoriana....GET THIS! You must have it, the cards are beyond enchantment, they lead you to a magical place. Ahhh the artwork.....Stunning! And as orace cards they work wonderfully. Very spot on. The book is great, very readable and easy to understand. Each card is explained with the meaning as well as the description of the flower, where it grows, what it is used for etc. The cardstock is good and thick and the backs are art in themselves! If you are drawn to this sort of thing, I can assure you you won't be disappointed....
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flowers Personified 30 Jan 2007
By Janet Boyer - Published on Amazon.com
"...Grandville...creates atmospheres of elegance and tranquility but also, in some cards, a sense of oddity and the bizarre that can be quite entrancing. He is an acute and witty social commentator. Few books are available nowadays on Grandville, and original prints of his work are scarce and expensive. One hope we have for this oracle is that it will bring this wonderful artist to a wider public." - From the companion book

From porcelain to wall coverings, engravings to clothing, flowers adorned the world of Victoriana. Not only was growing and arranging beautiful flowers a hallmark of the sophisticated woman, but also the ability to decode the meaning of flowers. With the popularity of Florigraphy, a complex of system of assigning meaning to various flowers, sending and giving bouquets were a form of communicating messages.

A sprig of mint among a bouquet would mean "I find you refreshing", while dark pink roses signified gratitude. By combining various flowers--even arranging them bent to the left or right--givers and receivers participated in a secret language...the Language of Flowers.

In 1847, former social satirist turned book illustrator, artist JJ Grandville published Les Fleurs Animees in Paris. An English edition appeared in New York City later that year entitled The Flowers Personified. Of all his work, Grandville considered his floral engravings his favorite work, and they form the basis for the Victorian Flower Oracle.

Comprised of quiet hues and delicate illustrations upon a creamy background, The Victorian Flower Oracle covers a surprisingly wide range of human emotion and predicaments: from sorrow to sympathy, vanity to hope, shyness to revenge. Also personified are states like faith, wishful thinking, prosperity, competition, purity of motives, and prickly situations. For example, the Water Lily card depicts Faith/Piety as a nun enshrouded with lush green leaves as her habit, while Hawthorn, representing "A Necesasry Evil", shows two young women as hawthorn trees shrinking back in horror as a pair of pruning shears assails them. Because of this range, this 40-card deck can make an accessible--yet pointed--oracle.

Karen Mahony and Alex Ukolov of baba studio in Prague designed the Victorian Flower Oracle--the same creative team that birthed The Victorian Romantic Tarot, The Baroque Bohemian Cat's Tarot, and The Tarot of Prague. Sheila Hamilton wrote the poetic, exquisitely fascinating 132-page companion book, which provides extensive information on each flower--including Latin names, historical and literary references, and Victorian usage.

Ms. Hamilton also supplies keywords and phrases for each card, as well as thorough interpretive possibilities, sample readings and spreads. In fact, there are three original spreads created expressly for The Victorian Flower Oracle: the 3-card Nosegay Spread, the 5-card Posy Spread, and the 7-card Bouquet spread.

Now, if all this sounds a bit too girly and fluffy to you, let me assure you that this tomboy--who has no experience (or interest) in gardening--found the companion book to be utterly engaging. Not for one moment was I bored discovering why Ophelia strewn pansies in the water before drowning herself (the pansy was a symbol of "vain love") or that crystallized violets were the epitome of Victorian cake and dessert decorations.

Another interesting tidbit I learned: my favorite band is the prog-rock Canadian trio Rush. They have a song called The Temple of Syrinx, and although I didn't know what Syrinx meant, I never took the time to look it up. Thanks to Ms. Hamilton, I found out that the botanical name for lilac is Syringa, which derives from the Greek word "syrinx"--meaning "pipe" or "flute". Apparently, Syrinx was a nymph who transformed herself into a reed to hide from Pan. Pan then turned this reed into the first flute, delighting all with the music.

Each card depicts a flower personified--often quite amusingly--along with the name of the flower and a keyword or phrase. Here are but a few cards from The Victorian Flower Oracle:

* Flax - Skills, Crafts
* Violet - Shelter, Retreat
* Daisy - Family Matters
* Rose - An Influential Person
* Cornflower and Poppy - An Admirer
* Hemlock - Treachery, Deception
* Lilac - A Message
* Dahlia - Choices
* Opium Poppy - Dreams, Illusions
* Pomegranate Flower - Joy

The cards measure approximately 5 x 3 inches and the reversible backings feature muted graphite-colored background with attractive golden scrollwork (yes, it shines!) in the fore.

I've used The Victorian Flower Oracle several times and found it to be surprisingly insightful. Surprising, because I honestly didn't expect much from it. I wasn't attracted to the artwork at first glance, but Grandville's wit and whimsy--brought to life by Ms Hamilton's prose and the art design of baba studio--was transformed into an unusual, unique, and clever oracle.

If flowers and all things Victorian enthrall you, The Victorian Flower Oracle will be sure to please. But should you not be into "girly" things (but still appreciate the sight, smell, and colorful history of flowers), you may be pleasantly surprised that an innocuous sounding deck can deliver such sharp counsel and penetrating observations about the human condition.

(To see 10 images from this deck, visit the Reviews--Decks section at [...])

Janet Boyer, author of The Back in Time Tarot Book: Picture the Past, Experience the Cards, Understand the Present (coming Fall 2008 from Hampton Roads Publishing)
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The French, the Anglo-Irish and the Russians create a marvel 26 Jun 2006
By Elizabeth Cherry Owen - Published on Amazon.com
The Vitorian Flower Oracle landed in my post office box today and I was immediately entranced. Oracle decks are always fun and enjoy a history as long as that of the occult Tarot. Their history is not so overburdened with weightiness. The famous French salon fortuneteller of the Napolenonic period, Mde. Lenormand, is believed to have used an oracle deck, perhaps one not so unlike this.

The illustrations are lovely, taken from Grandville's original watercolors of what he considered his masterwork. The symbolism is a fascinating look back into the time honored and complex Language of Flowers. I would recommend this highly.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful reproduction of the pictures 13 Mar 2007
By Kathy C. Skywalker - Published on Amazon.com
If you have any interest in The Flowers Personified or Les Fleur Animees, you will find the pictures to be a beautiful reproduction of the original pictures from the book.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely to look at and wide-ranging in meaning 28 Feb 2011
By transponder - Published on Amazon.com
I love this deck. To begin with, the cards are touchingly beautiful, evocative, and imaginative. As pictures they are simply delightful and invite the eye to study them. But as a meditation deck this set is also effective: for instance, there are cards such as 'sympathy', 'a thorny question', 'a threat', and other ideas that are not represented so well (if at all) in other decks (comparing this with several oracle and tarot decks I own). I recommend this deck to anyone who might be considering it. You will probably be glad you bought it.
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