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Review Belline’s Oracle

DATASHEET
Name : Belline’s Oracle
Author : Edmond / Belline
Publisher : Grimaud
Tradition : Oracle
Packaging : Rigid bell box / 10.5 x 6.5 x 3 cm
Deck : 53 cards / matt, satin / 9.7 cm x 6 cm
Size : small
Handbook : Booklet of 16 pages in B&W
Reverse side : Yes, the backs of the cards are reversible.
Switch of 8/11 : No
Universe : Egypt , Contemporary
Use : Prediction , Voyance
alternative
WARNING
Please note: this review is based on material in French. This does not change the content of the review in any way, as the material is identical in both languages. Sorry I can't systematically offer me my tarot cards and books in both languages (I don't receive any gifts from the publishers) ! ^_^

The equipment

The equipment

The deck, the subject of this review, was edited and printed in 1961. Since then, other editions have been published by the same publisher Grimaud. Whatever the versions, the format of the cards remains the same, i.e. quite small. The drawings are also identical, made by the hand of the Mage Edmond according to the legend.

It should be noted that in recent years, more modern versions of Oracle have been released on the market, in particular that of Gabriel Sanchez to the editions EXERGUE. This game offers renewed and up-to-date graphics.

The game consists of 53 cards in the traditional playing card format, which allows a very good grip and easy shuffling.

The authors

The authors

Marcel Forget, known as Belline, is a twentieth-century seer who practiced from 1950 to 1980. According to his own account, one day he went to a consultant who was moving to retrieve some archives she wanted to get rid of. On the spot, he would have discovered card games and a manuscript that may have belonged to a previous tenant, Jules Charles Ernest Billaudot, better known as Mage Edmond (1829-1881), a 19th century seer.

According to Belline, these cards were drawn between 1845 and 1865 and include a set of symbols for divination. Mage Edmond would have created two divinatory decks :

  • A set of 53 cards published under the name of the Oracle Belline in 1961 by Grimaud (subject of this review)
  • A tarot deck copied on the model of Marseille published under the name "Le Grand Tarot Belline".

The booklet

The booklet

The booklet is in B&W. The printing and the manufacturing date from another time (1961). One has the impression to have a relic in the hands so much the game smells like old paper.

The content is short and brief. The first two pages narrate the legend of the discovery of the game, which is summarized above. 4 pages are then reserved for the presentation of drawing methods : The Belline method, the first names method, the cosmic number method, the cross method (classical cross spread). Then, the author gives some advice on the practice in 2 pages. The rest of the booklet gives a short meaning in 3 lines for each card of the game.

The composition of the deck

The oracle is a 53-card deck, based on a "septenary" structure (series of 7 cards) inspired by astrology. Indeed, the game is composed of 7 series of 7 cards each. Each series is associated with one of the 7 fundamental planets of astrology (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn). To these 49 cards are added 4 "neutral" cards (dissociated from the 7 planets) :

  • "The key" representing destiny
  • "The Woman's Star" representing the female consultant or a close woman
  • "The Man's Star" representing the male consultant or a close man
  • A "blue" card without number that has a role of talisman and protection
Note that Edmond signed the first 4 cards of the game: "The key", "The Man's Star", "The Woman's Star", "The Nativity" (his name appears in the pictures).

I appreciate that an oracle can have an internal structure. Knowing that this is far from being a habit in oracle games, I study more willingly those that have an explicit organization. The fact that the creator of the game has taken the time and made the effort to organize his game is for me a proof of the seriousness of his work. I am not saying that a structured game is more "relevant" than a game that is not. But it seems to me that the assimilation of the game, its study, its memorization are facilitated if the cards are arranged by series, categories or any other system of organization.

The 7 astrological planets

The 7 series of the Belline oracle refer to the 7 astrological planets, whose associated themes you will find below :

  • THE SUN : The Sun is the center of life. It is like a nucleus, a seed, a heart necessary for the life and development of man. It is the symbol of individuality, of the strength of the spirit. An essential star for life, the sun is also a sign of fertility, vital energy, radiation and personal fulfillment. However by all these omnipotent aspects, the Sun can lead to self-sufficiency, megalomania, narcissism or even authoritarianism.
  • THE MOON : The Moon inspires the secret and deep motivations of the individual, it is perceived as a spiritual guide (through the many goddesses associated with this satellite), as a lighthouse in the night. The Moon speaks of receptivity and refers to working on one's buried, repressed fears, primitive phobias, and everything that touches the unconscious. The lunar cycle and its different phases also evoke daily life, our changing moods and our behavior in the face of routine. Unstructured, the Moon's energy can become moody and lead the individual towards anxiety, hyperemotivity.
  • MERCURY : The planet Mercury is associated with the spirit. It speaks to us of the intellect and communication that manifest themselves in the fields of art, work, and society. Mercury promotes reason, understanding, learning, curiosity, adaptation, social integration, exchanges. When stifled, Mercury's energy conveys an internalization, delays in learning, reserves to communicate, or brings dizziness, secrets or leads to a devaluation of oneself.
  • VENUS : Venus, associated with love, represents beauty and aesthetics. It speaks to us of femininity, sensuality and seduction of women. Venus stimulates the voluptuousness of these women lovers, and in a broader sense, the attraction and magnetism of individuals. This planet also evokes sensitivity and feeling towards one's emotions, contemplation and Art. Venus tells us about a harmonious world where everyone shows sensitivity and love towards others. Retrograde Venus means that the individual is less demonstrative, it nourishes an introversion of affect, an inhibition of creativity, an interest in non-material beauty (i.e. inner and abstract).
  • MARS : The planet Mars represents desire in action, it conveys a masculine and dynamic energy full of courage, bravery, even warrior. With Mars, the individual nurtures a spirit of enterprise and conquest, he aspires to surpass himself. His desire to live is driven by his deep survival instinct, he asserts himself in his individuality, does not hesitate in the face of confrontation and conflict. His strength is combative, impulsive, even animal and sexual.
  • JUPITER : Jupiter is the planet of sociability and spirituality. It diffuses an expansive energy that allows the individual to develop his leadership, his charisma in his social environment. Thanks to Jupiter, acquiring maturity, humanism and spirituality, the individual gains his place and influence in society. He better understands the limits of society and what mutual cooperation is. Unchannelled, Jupiter's energy leads to a form of humility, of withdrawal leading to isolation, a difficulty to collaborate.
  • SATURN : The planet Saturn brings wisdom leading to better structuring and mastery. Saturn develops logic, concentration, discipline, patience and stability allowing constructive actions. Thus Saturn allows to find one's limits, to give a meaning and a framework to one's evolution. In this, the planet is also the cause of our fears of the unknown future and other people. Retrograde Saturn brings impatience and a lack of maturity, a difficulty to find balance. The individual can become rigid, impassive, focused on mastery and self-control.
The science of astrology also integrates the 3 remaining planets of the solar system : Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. They are not part of the system established by the magus Edmond, but deserve to be discussed as well :
  • URANUS : Uranus is the planet of revolution and freedom. It carries an anarchic and radical energy. The planet brings sudden, unforeseen, violent changes that challenge our convictions and our foundations, in order to progress in our evolution towards more independence and free will. Uranus is therefore the planet of visionary ideas, creative inspirations, inventions and modern discoveries.
  • NEPTUNE : Neptune is the planet of intuition and communion. Neptune represents the extreme sensitivity of the perceptions, the imagination and the dream, but also the 6th sense, the connection to our unconscious. The planet then leads the individual towards a more global perception of his environment, to develop the sense of family, community and collectivity. Neptune thus conveys an idealistic energy, utopian but also disinterested, altruistic or even romantic. Uncontrolled, this energy can become confused, illusory, obsessive, hysterical.
  • PLUTO : The planet Pluto represents mystery, mysticism, metamorphosis. Pluto invites us to work underground, deep in the subconscious, even in our dark and shadowy part. This breakthrough into the abysses of our being leads to regeneration, the metamorphosis of ourselves. The planet stirs up a mystical energy, full of mystery and turmoil, testing the individual in a process of introspection and mutation. Acceptance and letting go allow the individual to be reborn from the ashes, to get rid of his shadow, and to find himself unified and transformed.

First of all we could reproach the author for not having taken into account all 10 celestial and astrological objects to structure and create his oracle. However, we must admit that Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were discovered only in 1781, 1846 and 1930 respectively. The oracle would have been conceived between 1845 and 1865. At the time of its creation, Pluto was still unknown to us, Uranus and Neptune were not part of the astrological tradition. Moreover the names of the 7 days of the week are directly inspired by the 2 stars (Sun and Moon) and the 5 planets (Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) known since antiquity. It seems to me that the magician Edmond drew his inspiration from ancient astrology, disregarding the discovery of the new planets.

About the structuring of the oracle, we can still notice that within the series, there is no organization between the 7 cards. Within each series, the magician Edmond could have attributed a precise role to each card, for example: a "light" card, a "dark" card, a "retrograde" card (astrologically speaking), a "creation" card, a "change" card, a "channelling" card, etc. This double structure (series + role) would certainly have improved the cohesion of his card game. But I do not want to criticize Edmond's work, because at the time, he was indeed the first and only one to have structured an oracle game. Jean-Baptiste Alliette, known as Etteilla, who died in 1791, was content to randomly place divinatory keywords on card games and tarot cards to make oracles. And Marie-Anne-Adélaïde Lenormand, usually called Mademoiselle Lenormand, did the same with her famous 32-card deck passed on to posterity. Edmond can therefore be considered a genius for his time. Moreover, it seems that nowadays the Belline oracle is much more popular than the Lenormand, while the tarot of Eteilla is totally forgotten. So, even for pure prediction, the seers and the public seem to find themselves more with an oracle created and organized around a proven divinatory tradition, than with oracles created in a cookie-cutter fashion.

The only three real criticisms I can make of the author are:

  • A net imbalance between the planets, either perceived as positive (the Sun), negative (Mars, the Moon) or neutral. I would have liked the Sun not to be that positive, or Mars not to be that negative.
  • There are many inconsistencies between the meaning of the card and the theme of the planet to which the card is attached. Below, I examine this point in detail with the cards review.
  • A very (too!) present reference to ancient Egypt. However it is necessary to bring this aspect of the deck back to the context of the time. Napoleon's Egyptian campaign at the beginning of the 19th century had made ancient Egypt and all its mysteries known to the general public in France and the West. Then from 1821, Champollion had begun to decipher the first Egyptian hieroglyphics. At the time of the creation of the oracle (presumed between 1845 and 1865), a real craze for ancient egypt had taken over France.

The cards that challenge me

17 - Disease

The cards that challenge me

There is no particular reason why "the disease" in the broadest sense of the word should be associated with the Moon. The onset of an illness, whether mental or physical, is not unique to a planet. Put another way : a planet that "retrogresses" can lead to contracting all kinds of illnesses, neuroses, including disease of course, and this is in no way specific to the Moon. Moreover, the Moon and especially its monthly cycle are often related to the element Water and particularly to fertility and fecundity of women (nothing to do with disease). It is a pity that among the 7 Moon cards, none of them evoke this aspect.

19 - Money

19 - Money

The theme of money is only very indirectly related to Mercury. The planet influences intellectual activities and the art of communication. Trade is certainly one of those areas inspired by Mercury. Consequently the presence of money is justified because it is the support of any commercial transaction. According to me, we have here a theme on the periphery of the Mercurian sphere of influence. This choice is emblematic of the state of mind of the magus Edmond who was to deliver a tool of prediction and not a psychological one. And in matters of divination, the themes of love and money are particularly recurrent during the consultations. So Edmond had to integrate "Money" at one time or another in his card game. And he chose the Mercury series with this in mind.

28 - Family

28 - Family

Like the previous card of money, the concept of family is also relatively far from the influence of Venus. The planet speaks to us about beauty in general, femininity, sensuality, and love. So of course we can imagine that behind love, we can link to it other sub-themes such as family. Here again we can perceive Edmond's will to retain a maximum of themes generally related to divination, rather than respecting the themes of the astrological planets as much as possible.

36 - Negotiations

36 - Negotiations

The planet Mars is often associated with war and conflict, even if it is a rather arbitrary and negative view of the main Martian theme which is : "desire in action". We find in the Mars series, the cards "Despotism", "Enemies", "Badness", "Fire" which can indeed be linked to the influence of this planet. However, if the negotiations are obviously reminiscent of war and combat, this card nevertheless speaks to us more about talks, diplomacy and mutual understanding. And it seems to me that these are values associated much more with Mercury than with Mars.

40 - Beauty

40 - Beauty

Here I confess that I do not understand the author's intention. The card of beauty (directly related to the theme of aesthetics or even love) is placed in Jupiter, while beauty is the main theme of Venus ... What did Edmond have in mind ?

46 - Misfortune

46 - Misfortune

In Belline's deck, there are very positive cards but also really negative cards, making the oracle very polarized. No doubt pure divination is all the more facilitated (by radical cards) to the detriment of a more nuanced, more psychological approach. Misfortune, a very negative card, has difficulty finding its place in the Saturnian series which evokes the themes of wisdom, structuring and mastery. For my part, I would place the card of misfortune in the series of the sun, because this star speaks to us of glory, success and achievement which, in a retrograde or negative aspect, can certainly lead to misfortune. But the mage Edmond decided very clearly that the series of the sun was fully positive. Misfortune therefore had no place there.

GALLERY
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My opinion on Belline’s Oracle

The Belline oracle is presented with a rather old-fashioned design. Even the current version distributed by the publisher Grimaud does not change compared to the 1961 version (edition of this magazine). Some will like this rather vintage look and others will hate it, and will prefer either more modern versions of the same oracle like the one by Gabriel Sanchez.

Despite the above-mentioned inconsistencies in the organization of the cards, the oracle remains truly operational. But let there be no mistake, if it is perfectly adapted to pure divination, prediction, or even to the training of clairvoyant abilities. In my opinion, it is in no way adapted to a psychological approach of the divinatory art. Indeed, the arrangement of the cards according to the astrological planets makes only moderate sense. Edmond ordered his game in a primary way and he polarized it deeply. This conception took away all nuance and finesse that the game could have had thanks to the planetary and astrological approach. An approach that for the blow is more of an esoteric facade than an honest and deep understanding of the creator. But here again, my remarks are set in the present era where psychoanalysis, modern psychology, personal development, psychological tarot have become widely democratized. All these advances did not exist at the time of the magus Edmond. Also we can say that although Belline's oracle has aged, it was avant-garde for the time. Perhaps it is still so ?

The divinatory practice of the Belline oracle can be carried out without reference to the astrological planets. I believe that this is how many use it, relying mainly on the title and illustration of the cards. The reader interested in prediction and clairvoyance will no doubt find a serious, operational, and surprisingly up-to-date tool in the Belline oracle.

The psychological tarot practitioner, having a coaching or personal development approach may not be satisfied with such a tool, compared to the richness and density of a tarot deck. However, any assiduous student of fortune-telling must try all the founding card games. Belline's oracle is clearly one of his few decks.

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TYPE OF USE
  • Prediction
  • Voyance
PROS
  • Small card size (yes I assume!)
  • Simple titles and illustrations
CONS
  • Very imprecise planetary references
MATERIAL QUALITY RATINGS
3
/5
Quality
Packaging
3
/5
Quality
cards
2
/5
Rating
Artistic
EASE OF INTERPRETATION RATINGS
3
/5
Richness
of symbolism
4
/5
Legibility
of cards
2
/5
Structure
level
EASY-TO-USE RATINGS
4
/5
Ease
of use
2
/5
Accessible
to children
4
/5
Interest
in the study
OVERALL RATING
3.0 / 5

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