The Magical Menagerie - Mike Leslie/Eric Hotz
"The Magical Menagerie can be used for a number of purposes. Like other card decks depicting animal spirits, the pack can be used to identify current important forces in your life or to gain self-understanding. You can use it to clarify problems or as a form of divination. Finally you can use it to help in your magical work." - Mike Leslie

In ancient times, many cultures relied on real and mythical animal spirits for guidance. Based on ancient Greek and Celtic oracles, as well as a Jungian and shamanic understanding of the elements, The Magical Menagerie: Personal Power Through Animal Energies is a unique animal-based system of divination that forms a bridge between ages past and the present.

This 42-card deck, illustrated by Eric Hotz, features common animals such as bear, wren, cat, owl, wolf, otter, and salmon, as well as fantastical creatures like dragon, centaur, mermaid, satyr, unicorn, and chimera. Also incorporated in the system are elementals such as gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders-as well as quintessence (the fifth element), and a fetch (a chaotic, artificial entity).

Author Mike Leslie has created a 150 page companion book to the The Magical Menagerie deck, providing an overview of elements and how they relate to Jungian psychology, the four humors, astrology, and the four directions-plus how the elements interact with one another. For example, Earth with Air benefits from blending pragmatism with inventiveness, but only if the ideas generated are realistic. Water and fire are both expansive and visionary; however, the balance is delicate, with the passion of fire possibly at variance with the sensitivity of water.

All of the beasts mentioned in The Magical Menagerie are based on psychological characteristics and personal qualities by virtue of their elemental correspondences. Thus, "knowing thyself" can yield even greater information when consulting this deck for guidance. These cards can also be consulted for insight on time frames: which time is best to perform magical work, to confront a difficult situation, or to begin a new project. Because the elements are dynamic, the process of change within time and space can be reflected in this system. For example, Fire is most energetic, but its duration is relatively short unless it has fuel to keep it going-thus it tends to convert to the slower qualities associated with Air. Water can likewise speed up or slow down to become Earth, the slowest and most enduring of the states. As a result, when a particular creature turns up, it can indicate salient times or directions of increasing specificity.

The companion guide to The Magical Menagerie gives detailed explanation of each card, including upright and reversed meanings, direction, time, and pace of change. Several spreads are also explained with examples, including spreads of 1, 3, 4 and 5 cards. Two additional cards are included in the deck: The Menagerie Wheel, and The Wheel of the Elements. Also included in this boxed set is a white cardboard box for card storage (to embellish as you see fit) as well as black organdy bag.

This is the first animal oracle I've ever consulted, and I was surprised to find it quite accurate. The elemental timing and pace brought a new dimension to my divination experience; I can definitely see how the subtlety of elemental movement can bring additional information to the querent. So often, oracles give you information on the what or even the when-but not so much the how. By utilizing the rhythm of the elements, additional information is gained which then helps in making informed choices.

If you're interested in animal totems and oracles, as well as fantastical creatures, Jungian psychology, shamanism, and elemental work, this is a fine divination system that is sure to add an extra dimension to self-knowledge and magical work.

Below are 6 images from this deck:

The  Magical Menagerie by Mike Leslie, llustrations by Eric Hotz © 2004 Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. PO Box 64383, St. Paul, MN 55164. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the publisher.

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Content copyright © by Janet Boyer. All rights reserved. This review was written by Janet Boyer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission.