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  • Nov, 18 , 20

–OR–The Differences Between Designing and Creating Oracle Cards vs. Tarot Cards

(A.K.A playing it safe vs. facing your deepest, darkest fears….)

by Michelle Motuzas, author of RedFeather’s new release, Intuitive Wisdom Color-Your-Deck Tarot, as well as Shamanic Healing Oracle Cards, The Wild Elemental Oracle, and The Empathic Oracle (co-authored with Steve Wilson).

When RedFeather asked me to write blog posts in the past, I jumped at the chance to create content that might educate, inspire, and empower readers.

However, with the release of my Intuitive Wisdom Tarot, they asked me to write about the differences between the experience of creating an Oracle deck versus a Tarot deck.

Yikes! I mean…hmmmm. How in the world can something so completely personal — my own creative process and particular experiences — possibly educate, inspire, or empower others?

I noodled this around for a few months and, true to my nature, here I am the night before this article is due, sitting and staring at a still-blank screen.

To say I procrastinate would be an understatement; my friend Meghan tactfully says I am “pressure prompted.” She is southern and has a genetic disposition to put a beautifully lyrical spin on everything. But I am also flipping fantastic at pulling ideas out of my you-know-where. Though this is the night before, I have been thinking and planning this for months. It is my creative process.

When I approached my editor about doing a color-your-own deck, it was with the intention to empower people. I had published my first deck, the Shamanic Healing Oracle, and was continually humbled by people all over the world reaching out and kindly telling me how much the deck spoke to them and how they loved “my” illustrations. Although I did and still do love hearing such appreciation, I found it distinctly uncomfortable that many people placed such emphasis on my illustrations. My mission first and foremost in creating an Oracle deck for publication was to, simply put, empower others in such a way that they would eventually no longer need mine or any other Tarot or Oracle decks. (My apologies, Schiffer/ RedFeather!) I never wanted to be a guru of any sort. (Hard stop!)

About this time, the adult coloring craze was blossoming, and I found myself intrigued as I watched people who would never admit to any artistic talent, suddenly spending hours coloring page after page. Yes, coloring reduces stress, but as I gradually noticed how many different ways each coloring page could be interpreted, I realized that they were in fact, making the images their own by coloring them.

A light bulb went off! People could do that with their own Oracle decks! By coloring the card images, they could make the deck their own; they would no longer see the art of some faceless person whose name was on the box. Instead, they would see their own creation! They would be putting their own energy into the deck as they colored, one step closer to making my own part in the process null and void.


I reached out to my editor and pitched the idea. She was excited, talked to a few people about it, and came back with, “How about a color-your-own Tarot deck instead?”

Besides being pressure prompted, I stand firmly in the camp of telling them “Yes” and then figuring it out later!

I created a submission, which was definitely along the coloring book idea. If I remember correctly, the image was a tree filled with pentacles and a rake leaning up against it (which did not remain in the final version).

Kind of boring. But I got the go ahead from my publisher.

While I am pretty well-versed in Oracle cards, both mine and others, I am rather a newbie in the Tarot world. I have used them, of course, with the booklet always at hand. I dove into researching Tarot and realized quite quickly that I could study the subject for a few lifetimes and there would still be nuances that I hadn’t yet grasped.

I wanted to stay true to the spirit of Tarot. For instance, I dutifully learned that the Fool is looking in a certain direction for these reasons and there is a white dog at his feet for those reasons. Mind you, it’s not a black dog or a brindle, but WHITE…and he is wearing a red scarf because…..


Tarot’s symbolism is off the charts and has been around for centuries for a reason — it freaking works!

I struggled. I researched. I drew. I tore up paper. I cried. I drank. I felt like I was just copying the Rider Waite imagery. It became complete drudgery. All my personal fears surfaced.

 What if I am just faking all of this and I have not even admitted it to myself? What if I fail? Schiffer is trusting me to do this. What if I can’t do it? What if no one likes them? What if…what if…what if?

I may or may not have had a minor crisis of faith around this time.

You see, when creating Oracle cards, it is pretty loosey-goosey in terms of themes, meanings, symbols, etc. Everything is based upon the author’s and/or artist’s unique vision. That worked for me. I could get my healing messages across. At the beginning of this new Tarot project, I was offered the chance to focus solely on creating the images themselves and not worry about writing the accompanying booklet, which the publisher would provide.

Oh yes, please and thank you.

But now I found myself in an entirely new position wherein neither the images nor the words were mine.  I struggled to connect with my own creativity, confined within the ideas of others. I never want to feel that way again.

I made the executive decision to do what I do best: Earth-centered with specifically animal-based messages (this was a few years before the Wild Elemental Oracle). Now, my research began in earnest. I poured over the traditional meanings of each of the 78 Tarot cards and tried my best to match each up with the message of a certain animal. While one animal will not encompass all that a Tarot card can represent, the animal world is a universal beginning point for readers to resonate with animal spirits. As I drew each image, I found myself realizing that this Tarot deck would be a very interesting deck to have and use, indeed.

I grew excited about the project and managed to finish it on the day it was due. (I had also just started a new job, had a flood in my condo, and was in the process of moving — I am kind of extreme that way!)

The night before the deck was due to my editor (do you see a pattern here?), I was bringing the whole package together on my laptop since I had digitalized the images. I thought it was going to be a snap! A few clicks of the mouse, hit enter, and POOF! Done.

That’s when my laptop decided to crash. I moved to my son’s desktop. Ten minutes later, my son’s computer crashed too, as did the graphic program I had used. I became convinced that some energy out there did not want me to succeed in doing this!

I took a deep breath and went to bed. It was just going to have to be one day late. (Fail!) The next day I was able to submit it successfully.

I could finally breath again.

Months later when I was talking to my editor about The Empathic Oracle, she casually asked, “Oh, and how are the color-your-own Tarot cards coming?”


She said she “never rushes her authors” (bless her, she gets me) but, um…where is it?

I told her I had sent her the images, albeit a day late. (See failure above.) Honestly, since I’d submitted one day late, I had worried that since the publisher reserves the right to not publish if the project is late, they might not be published at all, and I was too ashamed that I let them down (Fail–again!) to ever actually ask about the deck!

She said nothing of the sort, and told me that they would still love to have them.

My first thought was, “Woo hoo…now I get the chance to redo them and make them better!”

I would like to say that within the week I dusted them off and turned them in.

Hahaha….please recall the third paragraph of this post.

I think it took me another six months or so to finally submit them again.

Fast forward to four years later TODAY. In the Intuitive Wisdom Color-Your-Deck Tarot we are at last seeing the results of my tremendously convoluted, painful, and ultimately enlightening birthing process.  

The process of creating the Intuitive Wisdom Tarot deck was one that, while definitely not a walk in the park, laid bare my own inner struggles and insecurities, shining a spotlight on what I needed to heal and forcing me way out of my comfort zone. I would love to say that I no longer fear failing others, but that would be a lie. I don’t fear it as much as I used to, but I am aware and working on it.

My hope for the Intuitive Wisdom Tarot is that your process of co-creating, as you color your own deck, empowers you to completely own it and embody the messages of the creatures within the construct of Tarot. This is intended to become your own personal Tarot deck, crafted as a framework for you to work your own magic with and upon. Be your own guru and trust your own intuition with the Intuitive Wisdom Tarot!

Enjoy this brief flipthrough of the Intuitive Wisdom Color-Your-Deck Tarot:

About the Author:

Michelle Motuzas

Michelle Motuzas has been a psychic medium and a student of shamanism for more than twenty years. She is the author/artist of The Shamanic Healing Oracle and The Wild Elemental Oracle and the coauthor and artist of The Empathic Oracle. Living in New England, she finds inspiration from the natural landscape and wildlife that surrounds her. In addition to her spiritual practice, writing, and creating illustrations, she also has a fine-arts practice. Find more information about Michelle at

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