The Burning Serpent Oracle

A deck of cards and a book that form a brand new oracle, but is also as ancient as humanity itself.
Robert Place
3,643 Facebook Friends
Saugerties, New York
United States
1 Team Member


                                         Special Announcement!  

We have actually met our initial goal, and in under 24 hours!!  We are so grateful to everyone who's joined us so far.  However, this does NOT mean the campaign is over.  Far from it.  We are participating in a new Indiegogo program that allows our campaign to continue beyond the deadline and allows you to enjoy any of our perks.

"While grounded in the Lenormand tradition, this deck and book open you to a richly symbolic world of mythic figures, flaming trees and snakes on fire, in a gorgeously designed work that is both practical and spiritual."

Mary K. Greer, author of Tarot for Your Self.

“The Burning Serpent Oracle is a mythic Lenormand for the 21st century. Using simple, developed, mythic and secret meanings, the reader can divine the story and dream the solutions into becoming with this beautiful deck.”

Caitlin Matthews, author of Enchanted Lenormand Oracle and The Complete Lenormand Oracle Handbook. 

           The Burning Serpent Oracle deck, including the set of 40 cards by Robert M. Place (creator of The Alchemical Tarot) and 260 page book by Rachel Pollack (author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom), is ready for the printer.  To make this happen we need to raise $9000, and so we are launching this campaign.  There will be details of contributions and perks at the end, but first a bit of history.


  It begins with oracles.  For each of us, cards, sticks and shells, ancient temples and secret traditions have been a way to experience the mysteries of life brought into a practical reality.  Oracles, omens, and tools of divination are as old as humanity.

 Here is Robert on how he came to his life’s work:

  As long as I can remember, I have always looked to my dreams as a source of guidance. I have even had dreams that have predicted the future. So I can see now that my dreams were a natural form of divination, similar to the experience of shamans in many different cultures.

  In 1982, I dreamed that I received a phone call from a law firm in England. The phone was a symbol to indicate that the communication was coming from outside of my consciousness, and I was aware of that in the dream, thinking, “how can someone call you in a dream?  I didn’t know that that could happen.”  The dream told me that I had an inheritance coming from an ancestor in England.  The object I was inheriting had great power and I had to use it wisely.  It was called “the key,” and I was told that I would recognize it when I saw it.  Within a few days, a friend brought his new Waite/Smith Tarot Deck to show me.  I immediately recognized it as my inheritance.  In another day or so, another friend spontaneously gave me a Tarot of Marseilles deck and later I bought a Waite /Smith deck for myself. Because of the way I was introduced to the cards, I usually say that I did not entirely choose to become involved in the Tarot.  It seems more like the Tarot chose to become involved with me.

  Since then, cards and divination have become the focus of my life, a satisfying subject for my artistic abilities and for my interests in history, philosophy, symbolism, and mysticism.  All of these fuse into one thing in my decks, and the practice of divination with the decks makes them relevant in the lives of the reader and the client. 

And Rachel:

  Like Robert,  I’ve often said that I did not discover Tarot, Tarot discovered me.  I have loved myth and tales of magic all my life.  Then, in early Spring of 1970, a friend read my cards and I was amazed at these images that were like doors into other worlds.  They seemed like frozen moments in a story, or a dream.  At the same time, they meant something, there were meanings, and ideas, and even history attached to them.  They could speak to us, and make statements about people’s lives.  Over time, I discovered that Tarot was only one expression of a vast world of oracular traditions.  I worked on different decks, designing some with artists, and drawing my own.  Twice I visited Delphi, the site of the most famous oracular temple of all, and known to the ancients as “The center of the world.”  I’ve used cards for magic, and for storytelling, and to help people—myself included— make difficult decisions, or understand relationships, or recover from trauma, or talk to the gods.  Recently, Wald Amberstone, co-director of the Readers Studio, interviewed me and asked if there was a thread that connected all the different kinds of work I’ve done, the divination texts, the art, the novels and poetry and translation.  And because I’ve also written comics he asked if I had a secret identity.  I told him I considered myself a Knight of the Imagination.


  Despite both of our deep involvements with Tarot, when we decided to come together to create a new deck we decided we wanted something very basic, a deck of powerful images that would speak directly to people the way dreams, and images, and the stories inside them, had spoken to us throughout our lives.  We began to plan a set of images that would be simple, easy to understand, and yet stir people’s imagination and intuition.  We talked of a Flaming Tree and a Dead Tree, of Foxes, and Serpents, and Voyages across the ocean.

  And then something strange happened.  Just as each of us has felt that the Tarot discovered us so long ago, now it seemed that something else had found us in our desire to collaborate.  This something was the 19th century fortune telling tradition known as Lenormand.  Named for France’s most famous card reader, Mlle. Marie Ann Adelaide Lenormand, this deck of 36 cards has always been popular in Europe but had just begun an English language resurgence when we began to design our cards.  We looked at it and found, to our amazement, that the pictures we’d planned all seemed to fit into this tradition.

  Partly this came from the power of basic images.  We wanted our cards to portray direct elements of people’s lives, with hints of myth and dreams, and this is what Lenormand does.  A man, a woman, a key, the Sun and Moon, these are things all of us know.  Just as Robert had dreamed years ago of a “key,” and we’d planned a Key in our deck, so there turned out to be a Key in Lenormand. 

  As we began to adapt our designs to the Lenormand tradition we knew we wanted our pictures to be directly accessible and have that sharpness that can make a dream seem both ordinary and very compelling.  And working within Lenormand allowed The Burning Serpent Oracle to avoid a difficulty of many modern oracle decks—images that are beautiful, but whose meanings remain personal to the creators.  The true genius of Lenormand lies in its history of precise ways of reading.  We are not invited to interpret the pictures any way we wish.  Instead, the cards carry distinct meanings, both on their own, and in combination with each other.

  In both Robert’s pictures and Rachel’s 260 page book the cards and their meanings will be instantly recognizable to Lenormand readers.  At the same time we wanted to make the cards both accessible to people with no previous experience and to hint at possible levels of interpretation beyond the standard.  As part of this plan we designed each card to express the tradition but also contain something extra.  This could be as simple as the moth on The Rusty Cross, or as daring as the flames on The Burning Serpent itself.

  Both these cards are “problem” cards in Lenormand.  “The Cross” means burdens and hardships, “The Snake” warns of danger.  In both cases the “extra” imagery does not negate the meaning but hints at possible transformation.  Moths, like butterflies, change from creatures of dirt to creatures of the air.  The Serpent in flames becomes like the mythological phoenix, re-born out of its own ashes.

  As Rachel says in her book, to interpret the cards we look first at the “key words,” rooted firmly in Lenormand.  Often those meanings will be all we need to understand the cards’ message in a particular reading. But the other levels are there, and both Robert’s pictures and Rachel’s text bring them to life.

Here is a video of Rachel doing a reading with The Burning Serpent oracle:

To learn more about the cards go to our website:

The Burning Serpent Oracle


  The deck and book are finished, ready to be mailed to you.

 You can choose any perk more than once, and we garentee that every contributor will receive her or his perks no matter what. 

We started delivering the perks on Hermes’s birthday. May 15, 2014.  

Note that the deck and book perks include shipping and therefore are different prices for contributors in the US and for contributors in other countries. 

All perks will be shipped by priority mail, which is insured and will arrive in three days in the US and 10 working days for other countries. 


  Here is a New Perk, The Burning Serpent Mug, depicting Sol and Demeter:

 Please join us in the creation of an oracle that is both brand new and as ancient as humanity itself.


We ask your help to spread the word. If you have enjoyed reading this, if the project excites you (as it has consumed us), then please help spread the word.  Even if you do not decide to pre-order the deck at this time, pass on this announcement any way you can—Facebook, Twitter, email lists, blogs, simple one-on-one communications…






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Original campaign was 286% funded on April 24, 2014
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