I was very excited when I heard that this deck was coming out. I was so anxious to get it, that I nearly couldn't wait for the US release and was going to order from Amazon.uk. Now I'm glad that I waited for the US release and saved at least a little money (now if I could just *unbuy* it altogether).
This deck and book set are by the same authors and artist that produced Druid Animal Oracle and The Druidcraft Tarot. The book is softcover and printed in an attractive green font. The cards are the same size as those from The DAO and have the same pattern of a mirror image Awen on the back, the only difference being that the backs are green in this deck. They also have the same border as the DAO cards have.
The following plants are featured:
Agrimony, Betony, Borage, Bramble, Burdock, Celtic Bean, Chamomile, Clover, Comfrey, Cuckoo Pint, Fern, Fir Club Moss, Flax, Garlic, Heather, Ivy, Juniper, Lady's Mantle, Madder, Mandrake, Meadowsweet, Mint, Mistletoe, Mugwort, Nettle, Plantain, Poppy, Primrose, Puffball, Vervain, Wheat, Woad, Yarrow, The Banes (Wolfsbane, Hemlock, and Henbane), The Guardians (Birch, Elder, Hawthorn surrounding a pool in which Water Pimpernel grows), and The Restorers (Roseroot, Valerian, and St. John's Wort).
The authors chose the herbs they did, "...by drawing on information from five sources: the relatively new science of archaeobotany, the information given in the old herbals that were written at the time of the Ancient Druids, accounts of the practices of later herbalists; the clues left to us in the old Irish and Welsh legends and in folklore; and the findings of botanical pharmacology. To create The Druid Plant Oracle, we have taken the approach that if many or all of these sources support the suggestion that a particular plant was used in Ireland, Britain, or Brittany at the time of the Ancient Druids..." (pg. 7)
The Druid Animal Oracle is the first deck I ever purchased and used. I have had it now for 12 years and I love it as much as I did when I first got it. Many other decks have come and gone in my life, but it is the only one I have kept after all these years. True, I don't much care for the original hardback book that came with it, but I really love the art on the cards themselves. (Imo, the little booklet that comes with the deck only set is an improvement over the original hardback in the area of divinitory meanings. See: Druid Animal Oracle Deck.) The artistry is nothing short of inspired in The Druid Animal Oracle.
Given my appreciation for The DAO, I had very high expectations for this new set. Unfortunately, the art in the new deck only marginally resembles that in the DAO deck. At first, I thought this was a shocking example of poor printing. However, upon further examination of this deck, I realized that Will Worthington's style has definitely changed. The art in this deck much more closely resembles his work from The Druidcraft Tarot, which I personally did not care for at all. I want to make clear that it's not that the art in this deck is not good. On the contrary, Mr. Worthington is clearly a highly skilled and inspired artist. However, if you are expecting these cards to be in the same style as those in The DAO, as I was, then you will be very surprised and possibly dismayed at how different they are.
Much of what I find objectionable about this deck, however, can be directly traced to the poor quality printing. It appears to me that the colors have been rendered incorrectly. Many colors are just too saturated, giving them a garishness that detracts from the overall presentation. One of the biggest issues I have is with image clarity. In The DAO there was such wonderful sharpness and detail in the imagery. Not so with The DPO. Everything looks a little too diffuse. This deck has the same border as The DAO so it is easy to compare the printing and color quality on these. The DPO borders are duller and blurrier. Also, the back of the cards have been printed such that they have an odd grainy texture, as opposed to the smooth texture of The DAO cards. I think it is highly possible that if these had gone to a higher quality printer, then much of what displeases me about this deck could have been completely avoided.
I actually think that the authors did a better job in this book than in The DAO book. First, each herb has a very informative natural history discussion. Then, where the DAO book featured very small oracular discussions, this book has greatly expanded on this section. Finally, each herb has an expanded section featuring mythological references, often including medicinal and cultural uses, and more natural history. The authors did a good job of research and their methodology for choosing which herbs to include appears sound. Although, I think that there are some glaring omissions, for example: oats, barley, apples, kale, bilberry, leek, willow, and seaweed! Surely such essential and important plants could have been included in lieu of some of the others. I understand they had to limit the entries, but all of the above would have featured very prominently in even the most ordinary person's life in ancient "Druid" lands.
Another thing that really bothers me about this deck is that I can not find anywhere inside the book a mention of its having been printed on any percentage of recycled paper or with soy/environmentally friendly ink. Surely both of these are relevant factors in the creation of a book by and for Nature loving neo-Druids? Disconcerting...
Overall, I am very disappointed with this deck. I am displeased with the art and underwhelmed by the plant choices. There are many pictures in this deck that could have been quite beautiful, if only they had been rendered more expertly by the printing process.
I don't really feel like I gained anything from this deck. For anyone who might come to this deck out of regard for The Druid Animal Oracle, I strongly suggest getting a look at the cards before you buy it. Anyone wanting it for the information on "Celtic Plants", or similar, could do much better by purchasing The Healing Power of Celtic Plants: Their History, Their Use, and the Scientific Evidence That They Work, or Healing Threads: Traditional Medicines of the Highlands And Islands, or The Scots Herbal. Both Healing Threads and Celtic Plants are listed in the bibliography for The Druid Plant Oracle.
In summation I wanted to LOVE this work, but I don't. At best I feel indifferent towards it, at worst, I feel let down and a bit duped. Perhaps I am being overly critical-I am a bit of a perfectionist. But, at the very least, check this set out thoroughly before you purchase it.
Please see my response to Mr. Carr-Gomm's "review" posted in the comment section of said "review."