Bohemian Rhapsody: The Little Czech Oracle Deck

My new deck arrived just a little while ago. As you can see from the back illustration, pictured above, it’s modern but lively and not new-agey at all, the art has an appealing primitive style, almost like portraits done by some itinerant artist ca. 1800 or so. I hope to build a decent rapport with it. I grew up around a lot of Czech people (they’re known as Bohemians here in Texas, since the country was still called Bohemia when their ancestors left) so that might help me grasp the sensibility a little. I wasn’t steeped in the culture, though. I’ve never known any native Czechs (the ones who settled Texas came around the same time as the German settlers in the 1800’s) and the people who still converse in the language and maintain some of the traditions, then and now, are for the most part a dwindling number of older people living out in the sticks. But the way I know them, they generally work hard, play hard, socialize a lot, they’re tough – not much fazes them – and they’re fun: the standard informal greeting is “Jak se máš!”. What we were told “Jak se máš” meant was NOT “How are you?” like the internet says, and it’s probably not a good idea to put that translation here on this blog. 😉 People laugh when they hear it and reply with either “Jak se máš!” or “No thanks!”…have these people done the impossible, have they trolled the WHOLE INTERNET? Or just the entire state of Texas? Either one is pretty impressive. 😆

Back to the deck, something else that helps is that it has a striking similarity to other traditional oracles, especially Ziguener Wahrsagekarten and Biedermeier, but also Italian Sibillas and Kipperkarten. The symbols are already familiar. The deck itself is only “updated” in the sense that it’s a lot less hung up about sex than the older ones, which lends it humor and a down-to-earth quality. There’s nudity, but nothing pornographic, if it was a movie it might get an “R” rating at most. The stock is about the same thickness as the Piatnik Lenormand and feels like decent quality.

For my very first question, I wanted something that would play out fast, and the only thing that was scheduled to happen today is that a friend had mentioned they would call. Neither of us are sticklers for punctuality about these things, so it seemed like a good question for the cards. So I asked if the call would come today and got:

Dissimulation, Longing, and Misery. It’s a lot like those Dire Dailies that people get with Ziguener Wahrsagekarten, the ones that scare them half out of their wits if they’re not used to the deck. I’m glad I had a specific question or I’d be REALLY worried about the days events, too. Looking at the cards, one of the first things you will notice is that negative cards seem to have have darker backgrounds than positive ones. (Looks like Ivy had us readers in mind when she painted these!) The situation is split in the middle with the lighter card. If the draw had been “Longing, Dissimulation, Misery” I think it would have been worse…the thing to really watch out for is negativity in clusters, like several Spades together in a playing card reading. Still, the answer seems to be a definite “no”.

The card titles in english aren’t very good and the titles in czech are worth translating. “Dissimulation” is “Přetvářka” (hypocrisy, sham, pretense or affectation) in czech. So there’s a lot more nuance there already. “Longing” is “Touha” (desire, urge, yearning) in czech. “Misery” is “Neštěstí”, disaster, accident, unhappiness, misfortune, or crash. Looking at it this way, it could simply mean that “I’ll call you Thursday” means “I’ll call you sometime around Thursday” (More than likely, and I don’t consider that a sham or hypocritical in this case, just a figure of speech) and if I expect a call literally, exactly today, I’ll be setting myself up for a disappointment (emotional “crash”). But I don’t like ANY draw that ends with the possibility of an accident or crash, and I won’t consider that something like that has happened without drawing a card to make sure there hasn’t been an accident, so…(eep! is my friend ok?)

A light colored card. Věrnost: loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, allegiance, adherence. If you read off the pictures (and I don’t, with these oracle decks, but it’s worth mentioning) it shows people who have grown old together, very reassuring. Looks like I’ll be hearing something soon, just not today. I’m good with that. 🙂

In summary:

Light cards are generally positive, darker ones generally negative.

Translate the czech keywords. It’s worth doing.

Draw clarification cards if needed, at least until you have a good rapport with the deck.

AND ABOVE ALL: Take the drama of this deck with a BIG grain of salt – just like life. Don’t panic over a Dire Daily. Don’t burn your boyfriend’s house down if the sexy cards come up – there’s almost no way they won’t with this deck. Think Czech: work hard at learning and most of all have FUN with it. Then relax and have a pivo! 😀

Images are copyrighted and property of Ivy Hüttnerové, published by Obchodní tiskárny Hořovice, a.s
The Little Czech Oracle Deck is available from Baba Studio

8 responses »

  1. Great write up on a very cool little oracle deck! I just received the Little Czech Oracle as gift, and I’m very excited to start playing with it. I’ve tried translating a few of the card meanings from the LWB (which is in Slovak), but it’s tricky. I really like your idea of translating the Czech keywords for more insight into the meaning of each card.

  2. Aghh, i’ve been thinking of this deck for a while now, wondering shall i get it – now that i read your review i certainly will! Hold on “Jak se máš?” does mean ‘how are you’ LOL! It’s the ‘per tu’ form, ‘per vous’ being – jak se mate? It’s Sasha Baron Kohen that drove everyone crazy greeting everyone like that as Borat lol!

    • I think you’d get along great with this deck, Lena! 😀
      Send me a pm on facebook if you want to know what “Jak se máš” is commonly said to mean here…I suspect it’s a far cry from proper czech, but be warned, it’s dirty!
      And thanks again for translating, it cleared up a lot. 🙂

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