Deck Name: Wild Woman Awakens
Deck Creator: Tyema Greenawalt
Deck Published: Independently published in 2018

So, here’s the thing, I’m not a fan of most animal decks because I find that many animal decks are a stereotype of what somebody thinks animal medicine is. They seem to be a condensed version of something one might find in a correspondence course on animal medicine. I cannot claim to understand the complexities of animal medicine and animal magic but what I do know is that it is intense, it is deeply personal, and not trivial. Wild Woman Awakens is a 35-card affirmation / oracle deck by Tyema Greenawalt. This deck features women of color along with animals and focuses on the animal’s spirit and how it connects our human spirit to Mother Nature. Greenawalt did the illustrations as well as wrote the guidebook and I think this is one of the most useful animal decks I have in my collection.

For you to understand why I resonate with this deck I must tell you a little story of an example of my experience with animal spirit and animal medicine in a real-life circumstance. One time I was on a camping trip with a friend of mine and we decided to make dinner. Dinner that evening was going to be a rack of ribs which we had planned on grilling over an open fire in the great outdoors. To make a very long and convoluted story short, a bear cub snuck up behind our camp site and shortly after of course its mother showed up. We were frightened to say the least and did the best we could to protect ourselves and get to a safe place. The direction the bear came from was downwind from our position so we assumed the bear smelled our cooking and was coming to invite itself to dinner. Instead of ransacking our campsite the bear went on to our neighbor’s campsite to rummage through their secured containers of food.

There were a lot of things I took away from this experience and I have a new respect for mother nature in a way that I never had before. Sometimes we trivialize mother nature and project our will upon it, much like certain animal decks do, but this was an experience that was impossible to trivialize. I also learned first-hand how destructive pure strength can really be. It’s reminiscent of the strength card in the tarot where you can choose to have oppressive strength or a gentle strength. This experience has stuck with me ever since and it reinforced a philosophy I try to live each day. This is an example of how true animal medicine should work, one should learn a lesson through observation of an animal in its natural environment. The reason I connect with Wild Woman Awakens so deeply is because I feel like I can look into the eyes of the animals on the cards and understand something that I never thought to understand, appreciate, or recognize before.

One of the things I really enjoy about this deck is the soft wash of color that is calm and refreshing. It feels as if the colors used in this deck are reminiscent of the colors one might see in an aura field. Another thing I find interesting about this deck is that most of the animals pictured have a third eye as well as the humans depicted on the cards. That third eye is a visual representation of the reader’s connection to the spirit of the animal. I don’t think I’ve seen a deck tie in the human-animal connection in a visual way as this deck has. I also appreciate the variety of body types and skin tones. When depicting people of color in artwork it is important to understand there is also a diversity within the rainbow of skin tones.

The 111-page guidebook for this deck is brilliant because it is quick and to-the-point but it is full of depth. Greenawalt discusses the nature of the animal and how the animal spirit connects to the divination properties of the card. There is an upright meaning as well as a reversed meaning for the card, an affirmation, and finally an interactive exercise that you can do to help awaken the spirit of each animal. For example, the exercise for Bear spirit says to enter the silence of nature or your own sacred space to mimic the hibernation process of a bear. It suggests to remove all distractions from your space sit comfortably focusing on the image of the bear and ask yourself, “what needs healing in my life right now?”, then it asks you to repeat an affirmation.

The cardstock with this deck is deluxe because it is a textured linen finish which is very reminiscent of the Pagan Otherworlds and the Deck of the Bastard cardstock. The backs are the simple wash of color that is repeated on the tuck box and cover of the guide book. The cards are my preferred thickness for shuffling, they are very flexible, and riffle shuffle like a dream. Wild Woman Awakens features thirty animals and five card which offer a unique twist to this animal deck that I’ve not seen before. Four cards represent the elements and one card represents the universe. The fact this deck gives homage to the elements and world that shape us and the animals in it makes it feel complete. While most of these animals have different species that exist all over the world many of these animals are animals that I am familiar with here in North America. These are animals that are not exotic and or mysterious, these are animals that I can have a personal experience with, and have had a personal experience with.

Here are three examples of animals I see frequently and an example of an elemental card.

Spiders are representative of creativity, patterns and divine feminine energy. The affirmation for Spider is, “I am the weaver of my creative universe.”

Racoons demonstrate adaptability through ingenious problem-solving skills. The affirmation for Racoon is, “My mind is wide open to positive changes.”

Dragonflies transformation from start to finish is truly inspiring. Dragonflies begin life in water before finally spreading their wings to take flight. The unique design of their eyes allows dragonflies to see in a 360-degree perspective. The affirmation for Dragonfly is, “I can see through any illusions.”

Earth is the card that embodies the transformative cycles of birth to death, grounding, nurturing, protection, and abundance. The affirmation for Earth is, “I am thankful for this earth and her endless generosity.”

There are many animal decks on the market that adopt the philosophy of spirit animals or animal medicine that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other. Most of these decks feel the same where the reader is left looking at a picture of an animal then reading a keyword, and a message that tries to drive home a point. Wild Woman Awakens stands alone from the pack because it invites you, the reader to immerse yourself into the energy of each animal featured in this deck. Tyema Greenawalt’s careful attention to detail and intention can be felt when I use this deck which is why I find myself using this deck more often than other animal deck in my collection. The messages are not trivial because they resonate strongly for me, as strongly the experience I had with the mother bear and her cub resonated with me.