All Preorders are Mailed

As of today, July 19, 2014, Rachel and I have mailed out all of the preorders of the Burning Serpent Oracle. If you have not yet received your deck and book, it is on its way.



If you would like to order the deck and book, go to the Order Page.

I will be able to mail all orders out as they come in.

On Their Way

As of today, July 16, 2014, Rachel and I have mailed all of the perks that people ordered during the Burning Serpent Oracle Campaign.  There are still preorders and orders that came in after the campaign to be mailed but all of the ones from the campaign have arrived or are on their way by priority US mail.




A few days ago, in a post titled Hermes Retrograde, I described some of the incredibly frustrating delays, mishaps, and outright blocks Robert and I had been having getting the Burning Serpent Oracle cards out of customs and warehousing in the New York/New Jersey shipyards. It felt like Hermes (a personal deity/friend to both of us) was trying to get to us, but was blocked at every turn.

Hermes the Messenger from the Burning Serpent Oracle, Robert M Place

Before the holiday weekend we thought we had it all solved.  We’d gotten the proper papers from Europe, expressed them to the shipping people, and now they would be on the way to us.  So–yesterday Robert called them (yet again, again) to confirm they would be arriving this week.  We had a workshop scheduled for Saturday, so they had to be there.

Oh no, the agent said.  Now he can release them to the trucking company, and they’ll schedule it at some point and let us know.

That was it.  We each got on the phone with rental places, and Robert found a U-Haul company that could let us have a 14 foot truck for this morning.  I drove over to Robert’s house (luckily we live only about 30 minutes from each other, on opposite sides of the Hudson), he showed up with the truck and we headed down to New Jersey.

The trip was about three hours each way (through NJ/NY traffic), and we were both secretly worried we’d get there and they would say “Oh no, these are the wrong papers,” or “Oh, were you supposed to pick that up?  We sent it off to the trucking company.”  But no, after some tense examination of our documents the dispatcher sent us over to a gate (we looked like the Little Engine That Could alongside those fleets of 18-wheelers), and we gained possession of the decks.

Of course, I had to open it immediately. And they look wonderful.  Intense, luminous, powerful and subtle at the same time.  Now they are safely Anchored in our separate houses.


The Anchor for the Burning Serpent Oracle, Robert M Place

Now begins the process of mailing them out to people.  The shipping labels are addressed, we have the boxes.  [Special note to those who pre-ordered and are coming to this coming Saturday workshop (July 12)--rather than trust the Post Office to get them to you by Friday, we will have them at the door when you arrive.]


Because you have not yet received your copy of the Burning Serpent Oracle please read this note from Rachel




As we come to the end of a very fraught process of getting the Burning Serpent Oracle actually in hand to send to people, we wanted to offer an apology and explanation to all of you who have been waiting so patiently for it to arrive.


Someone pointed out to me that we’ve been passing through a Mercury retrograde period, during which communications often get confused or blocked. The Greek name for Mercury, of course, is Hermes, and as most of you know, the first card in the deck is Hermes The Messenger (Hermes is also the name of Robert’s publishing company). In the picture he comes riding on a winged horse from left to right, as if entering the physical world of the cards from the spiritual world that is the home of all divination.


In traditional Lenormand decks card 1 is The Rider, and means messages, things brought, possibly from far away. This indeed is what Hermes The Messenger means, and the card came up, along with the Voyage, in a reading several weeks ago to indicate that the decks were on the way.


But then Mercury/Hermes turned retrograde…


Here is what happened. The books arrived several weeks ago, and all we needed were the cards to be able to send out all the pre-orders. But the cards took longer, and were more complicated, so we had to wait.


They were printed in Europe, and the German publisher Urania bought a number of copies to sell on their own website, while our copies were put on the boat to be sent here. As a result, a number of people bought copies from the German site, getting them before we did. However—these did not include the book, since Urania is only selling the deck.


Meanwhile, the decks finally arrived in New York harbor. And then Hermes Retrograde truly worked its maddening, negative magic. The packing had the wrong papers. They were almost the right papers, but not quite. Days of tense conversation ensued, between us, the New York Customs office, and the European printers. Meanwhile, the decks were sitting in storage in New Jersey, close but locked away.


Finally, we all worked out what needed to be done. The printers expressed the correct papers overnight from Europe, Robert signed them and express mailed them (with 15 minutes to spare at the post office) to the customs officials—and then it was July 4th weekend! The good news is that we know they received them, and we are hopeful the decks will finally get on a truck Monday, July 7.


To speed things along as best we could Robert and I have addressed the mailing labels for the Priority Mail boxes, so that as soon as we have the decks in hand we can combine them with the books and send them right out.


We apologize for all these terrible delays, and wish to express our great gratitude for everyone’s patience. If any of you have felt frustrated that the Burning Serpent has not arrived, believe me, it’s nothing like what we’ve been feeling! Pretty soon now, we will have them in hand, and send them out as quickly as possible. Thank you.

Thank You

Our Indiegogo Campaign to fund the printing of The Burning Serpent Oracle has now ended and it was a huge success.

Thank You to everyone who supported us.

Although we were expecting the books and decks in May, we received the books in June but the decks are still held up in customs at the dock in New York. However the deck without the book is on sale in Germany and here is our first review:

We are now accepting preorders through this website.  To order go to the How to Order page.


The Burning Serpent



Rachel writes:

Below is the picture and text for our title card, The Burning Serpent.  As with the other cards in the deck, and our approach as a whole, the basic meanings are rooted in the Lenormand tradition, in which Snake (as card 7 is usually called) is primarily a card of danger, and specifically an enemy.  There is an interesting secondary meaning, that of a smart or manipulative woman.

The text then goes on to explore dimensions and possibility of the image, including the power of snakes worldwide.  The reason I am showing it here is because of something interesting that has just happened to open up yet another level of the picture for me.  A friend of mine, who is a scholar of Judaism and Ancient Israel, wrote me that the seraphim, who guarded the inner sanctum of Solomon’s Temple, were depicted as–flaming serpents!

Some people assume that when an artist creates an image, and a writer writes about it, that this is the last word on the subject.  But in fact an image is a living thing.  It changes as we learn and experience the world.  A couple of years ago, I wrote of the Tarot, “The one thing I can say for certain is that you will never come to the end of it.”  We can say the same for any oracle deck, for images–especially images grounded in a tradition, as we have tried to do here–reach beyond our conscious plans for them.
72dpi-7-Burning Serpent


Enemy, betrayal, danger. A smart, possibly manipulative woman. Spiritual transformation, rebirth or restoration. Ancient wisdom, intuition.

This is the title card for this deck, and one of the first images. It has many complexities, fitting for an animal that seems to compel people’s imaginations and stir deep reactions all over the world. Beyond the facts of snakes—poison, shedding skin, healing properties, visions—just the very sight of them seems to touch something very deep in the human psyche.

Maybe as evidence of this power, the traditional meanings for card 7 can vary widely. Some say it represents a woman, though even here the meanings range from duplicitous to trustworthy. The woman might be cold, unemotional, for snakes, after all, are cold-blooded. Others see snakes as danger, or betrayal, but not necessarily from a woman. Some see the snake as a warning to be on your guard, to watch carefully. Snakes usually strike suddenly, often before we’ve even seen them. The negative meanings would get emphasized with the Fox, or the Mice.

There is a modern meaning, minor but fascinating in the way it demonstrates one of the ways that the Lenormand tradition adapts to new things. Because snakes rarely appear stretched out—even when they move they look more like a wave than a stick—and most often are seen curled or sinuous, they can indicate anything in curved form: a journey over a winding road, a twisting path, the intestines or intestinal diseases, pipes, or wires and any objects or systems that use them.

As stated above, for many the main meaning is a woman, most often someone not to be trusted. She may represent the third person in a love triangle. The twisting movements of a snake suggest cunning. And yet, some see the woman as older and wiser, maybe because snakes are thought of as carriers of ancient wisdom (see below). The surrounding cards can help guide us through this winding—snake-like—path of contradictory meanings. You also might wish to make your own choices of just what this card means for your own divinatory practice.

In the Grand Tableau, if the Burning Serpent appears near the client, especially underneath or to the right, it warns of betrayal, jealousy, or sabotage. Beware the snake in the office. Again, the Fox increases the danger, though if Fox appears before the Serpent its cunning may uncover the threat before it strikes.

72dpi Fox Snake Page 54

The association of a duplicitous woman may derive from Eve, whom many see as allied with the cunning serpent in the garden to deceive Adam and bring about humanity’s downfall (the Bible story does not actually say that). Other traditions, however, see the snake as the Goddess’s familiar, even her consort. A famous figure from pre-Greek Crete depicts a fierce goddess holding a writhing snake in each hand. In modern times Marie Laveau, the famous “Voodoo Queen” and card reader, was sometimes painted with snakes wrapped around her. The Ancient Sumerians depicted the primordial being, out of whose body the world is made, as a female serpent named Tiamat. For the Norse peoples, a great snake wound around the world, holding it together until the final destruction.

Voudon (Voodoo) cartomancers are not the only people to hold snakes. Some Pentecostal Christians handle poisonous snakes to demonstrate God’s protection. There may be more to this practice than an expression of faith. The venom of certain snakes can induce religious visions and states of ecstasy. The crown of the Pharoahs displayed a snake head at the forehead, the place of the third eye.

This intense history of snakes in mythologies all over the world suggests we can add ancient wisdom or intuitive truth to the usual meanings.

Snakes shed their skins to grow. The image of a renewed creature emerging from an old worn-out casing suggests renewal, trans- formation, even immortality. More practically it can mean leaving something behind that no longer suits you.

Some snake venom has healing properties, as well as the power to induce visions. The Greek god Asclepius, god of healing, received a staff with a snake around it from his father Apollo, god of the Sun. Asclepius used his staff to heal people, primarily through dream visions. And of course, two snakes wound around a stick form the caduceus of Hermes. Thus, the Burning Serpent becomes linked to card 1, Hermes the Messenger, as well as the other fiery card, the Flaming Tree.

72dpi Hermes Snake Tree Page 55

With so much possibility, so much meaning, what of the Burning Serpent image itself? The actual snake in the picture is a Hudson Valley garden snake. Robert described to me how his wife, a professional gardener, made friends with such a snake. I also have a snake living in the stone steps outside my back door. I consider it a blessing for the home.

Robert has drawn the Serpent in a stone structure based on an altar from Ancient Israel. In the days of the Temple the priests performed “burnt offerings,” animals sacrificed for their life energy to travel up to the heavens. Though in practice these sacred barbecues fed the large caste of priests and their helpers, supposedly God was seen to have accepted the sacrifice when the body was “consumed utterly,” that is, nothing left but ash. Thus, one of the meanings of the card might be a sacrifice that liberates a person (say, giving up a hated job), or offering something in a spiritual vow, especially to avert a danger. When I was fifteen I was diagnosed with bone cancer. Unbeknownst to me, my parents swore to be kosher if God would spare me. When the surgeon opened me up he discovered a large calcium deposit rather than the metastasized cancer everyone had expected. My parents kept their vow for the rest of their lives.

72dpi Phoenix Page 56

Because the serpent is an animal of regeneration and renewal, the Burning can be compared to the act of shedding a skin that has become too tight, making it impossible to grow or change. Thus, this Serpent in the deck that bears his name becomes like the Arabian Phoenix, the mythical bird that dies in flames—consumed utterly—only to come back to life from its own ashes.

In the introduction we looked at Lenormand’s beginning as The Game of Hope, and therefore part of the long tradition of “race games.” One of the very oldest of such games comes from Ancient Egypt, and was called Mehen. The name, and the shape of the board—a segmented snake—came from a mythological snake said to wrap around the Sun god, Ra. And wouldn’t the heat of the Sun make Mehen a Burning Serpent?

72dpi Mehen Page 57

You can order the book and deck by going to

The Burning Serpent Oracle on Indiegogo