Deck Name: Augenblick Tarot & Augenblick Oracle
Creator: Shannon Loftis
Publisher & Year: Self-published, 2017

I can’t tell you when we became internet friends, but ever since I started following Shannon Loftis on tumblr (then Instagram), my tarot life has gotten fuller and more interesting…especially once she started creating her Augenblick Tarot and Oracle decks. I love these decks. I love that she created them with images from the digitized Photochrom collection of travel photos at the Library of Congress. I love her perspective on place and meaning. I love how she constructed the oracle. I love that each deck forces me to dig in and focus and dream a bit. I love the canoe in the Page of Cups card. I love that I can find home and holiness and space in these decks.

Each deck comes with a book: the tarot guidebook is more substantive than the oracle since it discusses all 78 cards in depth, plus shares Shannon’s creation process and goes in reading methods. The Oracle guidebook, in addition to card interpretations, also offers up discussion on how to read oracles verses tarot cards, how to ask questions, and more. I’m a reader who loves guidebooks, and these two give me exactly what I want and need from them: Shannon’s perspective on reading and detailed thoughts and ideas on the symbolism and meaning that drew her to the images she selected for each card. She weaves together the connections between the places and people in the Photochrom images with the card meanings and concepts.

The cardstock for both decks is smooth, thin, and flippy. Perfect for the riffle shuffling I love. Thicker, matte cardstock is amazing in other decks, though I find that lends to stiffer, harder to shuffle cards. Here, I’m not worried about how hard the Augenblick decks will be to shuffle and mix up. I know they’ll do exactly what I want them to do.

The Tarot

The Augenblick Tarot is a RWS inspired deck. It’s also a square deck, which provides additional options for reading card directionality: upright, reversed, right, and left. Since I’m That Reader who barely reads reversals, this aspect of the cards made me nervous. Shannon, however, writes up her method of reading the four directions in her guidebook. In that section, she also shares the Augenblick Square, a spread she created for the deck. It’s well thought out and diagrammed, which was helpful for me to see. Her method, which is more visual and feelings based, really adds some incredible nuance to a spread that uses 4-sided directional reading.

I pulled some cards to practice reading with the directional methods Shannon shares, thinking about how meanings may shift in tilted positions versus upright versus fully reversed. Asking what I should focus on during my therapy session the next day, I laid out the Three of Wands and the Two of Wands, both cards tilted away from each other. The three was falling to the wayside, like the plans and goals I’ve been working towards. The two was trying to push itself back up; I know I’ve been struggling with the path I’ve been on, and trying to find my way back to it. Underneath, I pulled the Ace of Wands reversed and the Knight of Cups tilted. These cards feel unfocused and confused; there’s a lack of clear conviction and movement. The spark is still there, but it’s stagnant. The Knight and the Two of Wands are the only two cards oriented in the same direction – for me, I know I want to right myself, to get moving again, but how?

The High Priestess came up as the hidden factor card, and I pulled the Hierophant to try and get an answer to my question; both are tilted left. There’s more inner work to do, possibly in a structured way, but I don’t want to acknowledge or really deal with it yet. #truth.

The reading here, informed by the direction of the cards, did hit more nuanced notes that I would have gotten if they were all upright. The gist would be the same, though I doubt I’d be quite as kind to myself reading it; these are all powerful cards and the directionality changes how they read. They’re not softened, necessarily, but they do have a different perspective.

The court cards follow the RWS structure, with Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings. The images show a mix of places, statues, and people like the rest of the deck. I’ve found that this focus on place instead of face in the courts really emphasizes the uniqueness of the Augenblick Tarot. We’re able to get inside the personality of the courts by seeing the sites and spaces that they may reside in or visit. Structuring the cards this way feels like when I take someone I care about to a spot I love. Yes, I want to show it off; more importantly, however, I want to share both the Place and the bits inside myself that resonate there with that person. The courts feel similarly to me – we’re meant to connect with them through the resonance of Their Place.

This dedication to Place and Space is clear throughout both decks, and it’s part of what draws me to the Augenblick tarot and oracle. Humans have a need for the sacred, whatever that looks like, and here, Shannon deftly pulled together a set of cards that showcase some of those awe-inspiring, sacred spaces where we make our homes, live our lives, and connect outside of ourselves.

The Oracle

Real talk here: I am not an oracle reader. I’ve tried, I try, I will probably keep trying…but they just don’t click for me the way tarot does. I like some kind of structure that I can learn and then push the boundaries of. The Augenblick Oracle though, I love using. I was able to intuit an underlying structure (I got the decks before the guidebooks were complete, so I had a lot of Intuiting to do!) and could see how the cards work with each other. This was My oracle, and if I never use another one again, I’ll be ok. I have the Augenblick, afterall.

While I came up with my own personal structure to the cards through some conversations with friends, Shannon had one in mind when she created the oracle. It’s split into five groupings: The Places We Visit; The People We Meet, The People We Are; The Ideas that Shape us; The World Outside Us; and The World Within Us.

There are some overlaps between the decks, though there are no repeated images. I found that these overlaps have broadened their meanings for me. In particular, The Devil and the A Tight Spot cards are very similar images, and I always think about how the enthralling nature of the Devil often puts us in tight places. However, there are some significant differences between the decks that go beyond the tarot/oracle structures, despite their commonalities. The oracle is rectangular rather than square, has more focus on people, and names some concepts explicitly that we might work to tease out of tarot cards. They complement each other beautifully.

I’ve had this deck for more than a year now, and I still can’t fully speak to why or how they work for me in a way that other oracles don’t. It may go back to the grounded sense of Place and Space they seem to have, like the tarot. I feel awe and wonder in every card, whether it’s centered on people or sites.

That desire for the sacred and for connection emanates from the cards – when I look at The Lines Between Us, I can feel that need deeply, projected through the clotheslines running building to building. With The Vow and The Thurigibles, I feel the weight of the ways humanity has striven to connect to god outside of itself, through devotion and creation of holy space through ritual.

In the intro to the Augenblick Tarot guidebook, Shannon shares how she came to the name of the decks. “Augenblick is a word from Middle High German ougenblick (‘quick glance’)…When I first saw this word, I knew it would be the name for this deck. It captures the feeling of awe and reverence I experienced from that split second when a new image would load onto my screen, when I was looking for a place the Magician could call home, or for how a location could effectively translate the Hanged Man, and those magical moments when I would think ‘This is it!’”

I feel that same awe and reverence every time I lay down these cards. There’s so much to love and so much to appreciate in the Augenblick decks, and I know I’ll find more every time I use them.

Shannon is working on more decks! I’m thrilled to see what she comes up with next. You can find both the tarot and the oracle at Augenblick Cartomancy.