Cico Books, 2005
64 pages + 52 cards
If I didn’t already have a good relationship with my Animal Wise deck, I think Animal Messages would be my top choice for a totem deck. This lesser-known deck is pretty much the best one I’ve seen besides Animal Wise. It’s an almost flawless tool, as far as I’m concerned.
One of the things I love about Green’s work with totems is that she’s incredibly environmentally aware. Some writers, particularly in the New Age, get so wrapped up in “higher planes of existence” and “travelling to the Underworld to meet your power animal” that they forget to connect with this reality. Not Susie Green, though–she takes the spiritual and applies it directly to the worldl around and within us. She has an acute understanding of how the animals themselves see the world, and how we can interact with them on their level of understanding, more instinctual but no less important or powerful.
For being such a small thing, the accompanying booklet has a lot of info in it. Rather than pontificating on what Native people supposedly do (with no research from actual tribes), Green packs a lot of thought about the human-animal connection, different spreads that she finds work well and why, and streamlined suggestions for figuring out what each card represents. Granted, there’s always room for more information on that last, but Green gives good starting points for people to work with–she’s excellent at making every word count, and again she focuses on an animal-centric point of view.
The artwork on these cards is absolutely astounding. Csaba Pasztors’s paintings of the animals are vividly colored and realistic. They’re an absolute joy to look at, and I can safely say this is the most visually attractive deck I’ve ever seen.
Overall, an excellent totem animal deck, limited only by the usual parameters of such things–there are never enough cards for all the animals, and there’s never really enough room for all the information on each one. An excellent tool alone, or as a companion to Green’s first book, Animal Wisdom.
Five pawprints out of five.