Hello Tarot nerds and Oracle enthusiasts!
This time I’m here to bring you a review on both the Tarot and Oracle decks from the Wild Unknown, created by Kim Krans. These decks are quite popular nowadays and I’ve seen either love or hate responses to this non-traditional, nature-oriented deck.
While I aim to be mostly objective, I do have my opinions on it just as everyone else and won’t be afraid to share them here either.
So if you’ve been on the fence on getting this deck or not, here’s my point of view. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
These decks were both made by Kim Krans, and both revolve mostly around the animal kingdom. The Design of both the decks is very similar in style, the backings are nearly identical apart from colour, and the style art is an ink-drawn black and white base with added bits on colours on most but not all cards that have a bit of a watercolour pencil vibe to it.
I personally like that they are basically identical in style because it makes them look amazing when used in a reading together. I’m also a fan of this style artwork, but I know not everyone is.
Kim did change a couple things about the cards in the Tarot, like the names of the court cards. The Tarot is also the only deck of the 2 that has a couple cards that doesn’t feature any animals on it, but instead just the suit or another thing from nature like a rose.
I’ll get further into the cards later in the review.
Packaging is a big deal for me. Is there a pouch or a box, does it have a guidebook that fits inside or not, is the quality decent and sturdy, how does it look etc. I prefer to keep my decks in their original boxes if possible. Both these decks I got as the keepsake version, which I believe is the latest print version, so they came in these large boxes. These were quite cheap here compared to most other decks I own (25€ vs 45/65€) which I believe is due to the popularity of it, but I’ve seen the previous print versions online for 70€ and those are listed as out of print collector’s items.
The keepsake boxes Are large sturdy boxes with a magnetic book closure. There is a paper sleeve around them to keep them closed more securely I guess, that also has the design of the front of the card boxes printed on. Inside these boxes fits the guidebook as well as the cards inside the card boxes. There’s a ribbon at the bottom that helps you take out the guidebook and card box with ease.
What sets aside the Oracle from the Tarot though, is that the Oracle deck has holographic print on both the large box sleeve and the card box itself.
Now, I’m not a holo-sexual, I actually prefer a more dark aesthetic like the Tarot deck, but I do think the iridescent scale-like pattern printed on looks very cool and fitting with an animal-themed oracle set. Especially with that reptilian eye in the centre of the box. So if you are a collector of all things holo, then this should definitely be on your wishlist.
Just like the keepsake boxes, the card boxes have a ribbon attached to the bottom, that matches the colour scheme, to easily take out the cards from the box. On the inside of the lids, there’s also a nice and fitting quote added. The cards fit perfectly inside and there’s not a lot of extra room which can be good cuz the cards will stay in place but if you like to put in a crystal that’s going to be tricky.
Now the only issue I had with these boxes is that the lids don’t fit snug onto the bottom so when placed on a table in front of you the lid will come off if you try to lift the deck up. I had this issue a little more with the Tarot deck than the Oracle but it was noticeable on both.
Now I personally prefer that if I try to lift them up the box will come up as a whole, and then slowly the lid will slide off. This is only a very minor issue compared to how sturdy the boxes are. I’m just a little more mindful where they sit in my bag when I take them with me, but if they sit on my altar it’s no problem whatsoever and may actually be more useful as it’s less of a struggle to take them out. If this is a big issue for you then there are several things you can do like thicken the insides or transfer them to a pouch, which I didn’t personally.
So as I said the artwork for these decks is very similar in style. They both revolve around the animal kingdom and have the same kind of back design. They have the same thickness cardstock and matte finish as well (I love matte cards). The cards also are the typical tarot size of 12x7cm.
There are, however, naturally, differences between these decks.
The Oracle deck consists of 63 cards and being an oracle doesn’t follow any specific system. That being said, 63 cards is quite a lot compared to your typical Oracle deck with around 40 cards.
This deck is divided into 5 elemental groups: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Spirit. They are all kinda similar, featuring the elemental triangle symbols at the top of the cards, except for the Spirit element cards. While there is also less of them compared to the other elements, each Spirit card features besides a mythical animal a holographic circle at the top to represent this element. (See image on the right)
The Tarot deck consists of 78 cards naturally and follows the typical Tarot system when it comes to divisions and meanings. The cards, however, feature a non-traditional form of illustration. With this I mean the typical Marseille or Rider way of depicting the cards meaning (there are a lot of Rider based decks out there, Rider being the starting deck for most but not all people).
There were however changes made to the names of the court cards. The usual Page, Knight, Queen and King now is called Daughter, Son, Mother and Father.
Not all cards in the tarot feature animals on them, this is especially true for the Minor Arcana, while the court cards do all feature animals, that is not necessarily true for the numbered cards and aces. In the case of animals missing there often is some other thing from nature depicted.
Above you can see how well I hold the Tarot deck and how thick it is. The Oracle has the same size and thickness for the cards but just slightly fewer cards in the deck. The backings of the Oracle deck have a silver grey instead of the black in the pattern shown in the image.
I think it’s funny how you can still slightly see the pattern from the backings on the side of the deck.
I always love when decks come with guidebooks despite the fact I rarely use them. The quality of these guidebooks is quite good as they have thick covers. I wouldn’t call them hardcovers perse but they definitely aren’t paperbacks either. While the covers are kinda plain compared to the boxes, this doesn’t bother me. I rarely look at them anyway so they tend to sit on my shelf.
As I’ve mentioned before, these guidebooks fit inside the keepsake box, which is nice, but it also makes it a little bulkier when travelling with it as it doesn’t fit in the smaller box with the cards.
The pages inside are black and white in both cases and the books give quite a lot of info. There is an introduction, how to read the deck, the different divisions, several spreads and of course the descriptions for each card. The Oracle-specific book also has deeper insight such as the food-web.
Both books feature a card on 2 pages. One for the image of the card, again, in black and white, and on the second page the name, keywords and description. In case of the Oracle book, there is also “balance” correspondence added to the card descriptions. These are “When in balance”, “When out of balance” and “How to bring in balance”. I think that is a nice touch to add another layer to the Oracle cards.
Another difference is that instead of the usual 2 pages per card the spirit element cards have 4 pages for each instead. One these pages you get don’t get balance, but instead Chakra correspondence.
Wild Unknown for Beginners
I wouldn’t say this isn’t a good deck for beginners. While I do think to start with an RWS deck is very rewarding and helps you get to work with most other decks, it certainly doesn’t mean you have to. Foremost I think it’s important to use a deck that you’re drawn to. If it isn’t RWS based I do however recommend to get a deck with a guidebook.
That is exactly why I would say that Wild Unknown can be a good deck to start with simply because the guidebook gives plenty of information for beginners. From how to read to keywords to go with the cards. It also doesn’t list reversed meanings and while some don’t want to read reversed anyway, it also makes it less overwhelming to start with either.
It is however important that you feel drawn to the animals and that they somehow make sense to you, even if that is through the guidebook. The animals aren’t mentioned in the Tarot description though so unless you can make the connection yourself this can be tricky. This would be the only reason I’d give you not to start with this deck. Personally, I didn’t have any issue with that and found the feeling I had with each card well reflected in the animals present so this could be a very personal thing.
If you have both the Oracle and Tarot, you could use the animals’ description in the Oracle guidebook to help you out in the Tarot but this could be a little bit of a hassle to try and learn them.
I do really enjoy both of these decks and if you are new and are looking for both a Tarot and Oracle deck I think these would be great to start with as they do compliment each other quite nicely.
I enjoy the oracle and often read it as if it is an animal companions energy helping me out at that moment, and the balancing additions to the cards make it easier to see where I need to put my focus because I am aware of how I feel in the situation and can apply it accordingly.
The Tarot does have a bit more of a learning curve perhaps if you’re new or used to a Rider based deck. However, if you are drawn to it I’d say take your time to study and get to know it better. If you aren’t sure how to check out my post on my new deck process or an interview spread.