Artwork by Stanley Morrison
Field Guide by Arwen Lynch
Includes 46 cards and 138 page guidebook
I just had to have this deck.
Given that I’ve been a professional psychic since the early ‘80s, it might seem odd that I rarely buy a new deck. But I’ve collected so many over the years, plus have made a good number of my own divination tools. What I already own works wonderfully for me. No reason to mess with it.
And there’s just no physical space for more. Or so I thought.
A photo of this deck on Instagram grabbed my heart and imagination. I come from a long line of dragons, all of whom have a great sense of humor and adore the whimsical. That’s one reason Stanley’s art for the deck appealed to me bunches.
But there was another reason. As I said, my ancestors were dragons. I am the daughter of a savvy powerful dragon. This insider view means dragon art and literature can easily seem lacking to me, perhaps even pretentious. By contrast, the Instagram photo of this deck rang a tone that I recognized. It rings in my heart and bones. These cards were authentic. Stanley had, either consciously or subconsciously, tapped into something 100% real.
My anticipation about receiving the package was huge. When it arrived, I waited a couple of days before opening it, until I could give it the attention I felt it deserved. I was right to do that. When I opened the box, I was not disappointed.
I was enchanted, in the true sense of the word. Everything, from the charming booklet, with its diminutive size, beautiful palette, and lovely cover, to the back of the cards, exuded a magic of beauty and love. What I’m describing in this paragraph happened before I even read the text or looked at the cards’ fronts.
Then, looking at those fronts, each of which has a picture of a different dragon, was like looking at long lost friends. Every dragon critter greeted me with delight about our renewed acquaintance.
Not that I knew these critters the way the deck and book will now allow. For example, many of the visual details that Stanley portrayed were new to me. And I did not know that this critter here was an Artichoke dragon, or that this other critter was an Apple Dragon. I know a lot about dragons, in detail. In detail. But here I was reading a book explaining all sorts of details I didn’t know, such as a food a certain dragon likes, and a specific wisdom it often offers. I knew these creatures, some of them only in a buried part of myself and, now, Stanley’s art and Arwen’s writing will help me get to know them well. I also suspect that, as I get to know some of them better, I will find that some of them were never lost to me but just have aspects I did not see until I acquired the set.
(If my review of this set is so exuberant as to seem disingenuous, understand that I’m unlikely to review a product or service unless I absolutely adore it. I almost never write reviews but, once in a blue moon, something hits me hard, as this set has done, so I want a copy, both for my personal possession and to review it to support it.)
Had the booklet by Arwen been something other than fabulous, the deck alone would’ve been dear to me. But, as I read the booklet’s introduction, and eight of the sections on specific dragons (I’ll explain momentarily why, at the time of writing this, I’ve read only eight), I saw that Arwen was demonstrating the integrity, wit, and depth of metaphysical understanding that I’ve seen in her for decades.
Her portrait of each of the eight dragons and its message was imaginative, elegant, lyric, and clear, and covered a fair amount of ground. She managed all that within three tiny pages about each dragon. She packed a lot into this small volume. As a writer, I know the labor required to make a few words say a lot. Arwen works hard at her craft.
The reason I haven’t read the entire guidebook yet: I don’t want to rush through it, but savor it, turning toward it when I can focus my attention. I think I’ll appreciate the book best if I use the cards for readings, and in that process discover what Arwen has to say about the dragon in a card I pull for a reading. It’s going to be great. Each dragon descriptions I read was packed with sweet snippets that will unfold beautifully in divination. Since I’m not reading more till I do divination with the set again, I won’t ruin the surprise and delight I expect to experience when I read a description for the first time as an oracular imparting.
Here’s what using the set for oracle work was like. I did three readings, each time pulling one card, and relying on Arwen’s writing for the card’s message. (I often interpret a card intuitively, but put that approach aside momentarily to more fully be able to enjoy what Arwen would say.) In the first reading, her message was spot on.
I reject poorly executed guidebooks as oracles. For one thing, some divinatory texts give ungrounded, condescending, shaming, or high-handed messages, rather than ones that are insightful, revealing, supportive, and down-to-earth. Arwen’s message was loving, mature, calm, and sound.
The second reading was also valuable, for a couple of reasons. Here’s one. As a shamanic guide, I find it often important to help people see their shortcomings. However, our culture leans toward pointing out a person’s shortcomings in a shaming manner, and toward a guide haughtily reciting your imperfections, with the pretense of being better than you. Instead, I strive to 1) create a safe space in which someone can feel secure enough to recognize where they might be falling down on the job, then 2) gently lead them toward that recognition, and 3) be nurturing to them about it. Arwen’s message for the card I pulled for the second reading was very much in keeping with my approach.
Arwen’s guidance for the third reading went as well as it had for the previous two.
Her text is light years beyond the average little white book that often comes with a deck. Hers is a well thought out, carefully crafted guide to dragons and their wisdom.
I have to add that I intended to do only one reading before I posted this review. I wanted to publish the review as soon as possible, concerned that, if I put it on the back burner, my busy schedule would allow the review to fall between the cracks. But I’m so enamored of the set that, before I managed to finish this post, I had to use it for a second, then a third, reading. Given that I use divination sets I made myself, and have no shortage of other decks in the house when I need a change, my feeling impelled to use the deck again so soon says a lot.
I spend a lot of time with dragons. It’s part of my ancestral work, for one thing. Lately, I have been feeding—and being fed by–at least one dragon every day. I learn a lot from dragons, fly with dragons, am a dragon. I welcome these gorgeous, special dragons portrayed by Stanley back into my pack, and look forward to seeing what their wisdom is as Arwen intelligently interprets it, and what guidance they will whisper directly in my ear.
I love the Field Guide to Garden Dragons deck and book set. It’s special, in a class of its own. Available here: https://www.usgamesinc.com/field-guide-to-garden-dragons.html