The Oracle’s First Embodiment

Handmade Oracle Cards

The Oracle is embodied as two decks of cards. Together, they provide a randomized source of inspiration. Draw the cards. Consider their content. Break free of the blank page.


Photograph of two decks of cards with red and blue abstract backs.

The pictured decks are the first prototype, and are made up of a number of concrete nouns and a number of abstract ideas. The specific words selected and the icons that represent them were the result of many hours pouring through lists of reasonable candidates.


The cards themselves were printed on 90 pound buff card stock. The faces and backs were printed several cards at a time on separate sheets of stock, which were glued together with a permanent spray-mount adhesive. Once pressed, the individual cards were cut out with a rotary paper cutter, and the corners rounded off with a punch.

We considered several approaches to making a deck of cards at home, read a number of blog posts from the board game community on the subject, and settled on this approach as simple and direct. While I would certainly not manufacture cards in any quantity by this technique, it worked well, went smoothly, and the result has a really nice feel in the hand.

Since the backs are printed separately from the faces, they could have been printed on a different color (or several different colors) of card stock. I chose to make them differ only in the color of a single feature because I didn’t have other colors of card stock at hand. The result is distinct enough to sort the cards if accidentally shuffled together, and looks classy, professional, and designed.


The card faces each carry a word and an icon for or related to the word. All of the words were selected from the amazing collection of open source iconographic art found at The Noun Project by Ross Berteig and Clifford Ball. A few images were touched up or tweaked before use, primarily to make a noun’s slightly less specific. And in a few cases, the nouns used by the original artist have been edited for length or replaced outright to better fit the intended use of the finished cards.

Icons from The Noun Project are individually licensed under either Creative Commons CC-BY or are deeded over to the Public Domain. A complete report of the attribution for each icon used in that deck appears at the end of this page.

Sample Spread of Four

Oracle spread for reading: phone Transformation Hope beer

Two from each collection dealt in a spread for reading. In the case of the spread shown, we clearly have a textbook case of “beer goggles leading to drunk calling”.

Attribution Report

This report was generated automatically from the script that prepared the card faces for printing. The nouns listed appear in the First Embodiment.

The First Embodiment card deck as a whole is Copyright (2014) Ross Berteig and Clifford Ball. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit

The image artwork used in these card designs were selected from the large assortment of iconographic art found at The Noun Project by Ross Berteig and Clifford Ball. A few images are touched up or tweaked before use. And in a few cases, the names used by the original artist have been edited for length or replaced outright to better fit the intended use of the finished cards.

The following icons are from The Noun Project and are used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

By Minna Ninova:
* Lantern

By Juan Pablo Bravo:
* Gentleman
* Typewriter
* Superhero
* Knight

By Travis Yunis:
* Crow
* Owl
* Eye of Providence

By Fabien Jouin:
* Carrot
* Fish
* Apple
* Beer
* Spatula

By Leonard Ellom Quist:
* Affluence
* Afterlife
* Against All Odds
* Authenticity
* Change
* Commitment
* Cooperation
* Creativity
* Endurance
* Envy
* Excellence
* Grace
* Fate
* Fearlessness
* Fortitude
* Freedom
* Guardianship
* Hope
* Humility
* Strength
* Infinite
* Intelligence
* Jealousy
* Justice
* Knowledge
* Leadership
* Past Experience
* Learning
* Love
* Loyalty
* Omnipotence
* Omnipresence
* Parenthood
* Peace
* Protection
* Providence
* Prudence
* Purity
* Readiness
* Reconciliation
* Security
* Unity
* Transformation
* Understanding
* Valor
* Vigilance
* Wisdom

By Luis Prado:
* Deer in the Headlights
* Disguise
* Puppet
* Trumpeter
* Shark Attack
* Levitation
* Bad Luck
* Lost
* Cake Knife

By matthew hall:
* Pipe
* Tree
* Mustache
* Rocket
* Puzzle
* Diamond
* Magnifying Glass
* Glasses
* Bomb

By EricP:
* Sphinx

By Brianna Reed:
* Frog

By Benni:
* Cat
* Tunnel

By Kelcey Benne:
* Broken Mirror

By Jeremy J Bristol:
* Optical Illusion

By Scott Lewis:
* Telephone
* Poison
* Levitation

The following icons are in the Public Domain:
* rat by Timothy Dilich
* voodoo-doll by James Keuning
* record-player by James Keuning
* birdcage by James Keuning

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