Continuing my look at different card divination systems, other well-known ‘storytelling’ oracle decks, of the type that became especially popular across Europe in the 18th & 19th centuries, are those known as the Sibilla Decks.
There’s actually more than one deck that calls itself “Sibilla”, but the one I’m going to talk about here is La Vera Sibilla which has the SAME basic cards as the deck also known as the Gypsy Fortune Telling Oracle. (La Vera Sibilla is NOT the same deck as the “Sibilla Indovina” or the “Parlour Sibilla” incidentally, so do be careful of that if you’re buying. Those, also known as just the “Sibilla Oracle Cards” on Amazon is a lovely also traditional deck but it is not La Vera Sibilla.)
The La Vera Sibilla Deck originated in France, I believe, at a similar time as Lenormand, but became particularly popular in Italy, hence you will often find it with an Italian name and Italian card names. As to which of the various Sibilla decks is “the correct” one – I think they all are, they mostly all came out around the same time, but just be aware each “Salon” may have used slightly different versions of the cards!
So what is the “Vera Sibilla” system and what does it look like?
What’s In A Vera Sibilla or Gypsy Oracle Card?
Well, firstly, the reason I keep talking about these two together although they’re “officially” entirely separate decks… is that they’re exactly the same in terms of images EXCEPT that the Vera Sibilla has a lot more detail (and is usually in Italian).
Let’s take a look.
This is from the Vera Sibilla deck, and not the Gypsy Oracle version. So you see it has:
- The Main Image & The Title. This is the same in both decks, but the Gypsy Oracle has image and title only and not the rest, below. Here, we have: Servant/Maid— Pleasure-Seekers (Madmen)—Thief
- A letter on the top left. This is the Playing Suit reference: in this case Q for for Quadri (Diamonds)
- A number on the top right. The Playing card number. NB the Jacks, Queens and Kings are 11, 12, 13 respectively
- Two numbers at the bottom. These are, as I understand it, for playing the lottery with!
The Vera Sibilla Deck In Detail
I’ve divided the cards below by their suits, although the Gypsy Oracle Deck version will have them listed alphabetically instead, and obviously, when you shuffle them, they can all be shuffled up and read together. Please note that my Sibilla deck is an Italian deck, so note the Italian titles AND suit representations. Take a look at the pictures first to get the ‘feel’ of these cards and the way they represent things.
C (Cuori) Hearts
Emotions, Happiness, Love, Interpersonal
A: Conversation (La Conversazione)
2: House (Casa)
3: Waiting/Beautiful View (Belvedere)
4: Love (Amore)
5: Joyfulness/Joyful Heart (Allegrezza al Cuore)
6: Money, Value (Denari)
7: Scholar/Man of Letters/Artist (Letterato/Artista)
8: Hope (Speranza)
9: Faithfulness/Fidelity (La Fedelta)
10: Constancy (La Costanza)
11 (J) Lover/Male Lover (L’Amante)
12 (Q) Sweetheart/Female Lover (L’Amante)
13 (K) Lord/ Important Gentleman (Gran Signore)
F (Fiori) Clubs
Practicality, Business, Getting Through Life
A: Wedding/Marriage/Partnership (Imeneo)
2: Haughtiness/Pride (La Superbia)
3: Journey/ Travel (Viaggio)
4: Friend/Female Friend (L’Amica)
5: Fortune/Luck (La Fortuna)
6: Surprise/Consoling Surprise (Consolante Sorpresa)
7: Consolation/Great Consolation (Gran Consolazione)
8: Reunion (La Riunione)
9: Cheerfulness/Joy (L’Allegria)
10: Frivolity/Lightness (La Leggerezza)
11 (J) Service/Male Servant (Domestico)
12 (Q) Young Woman (Giovine Fanciulla)
13 (K) Doctor (Dottore)
P (Picche) Spades
Misfortune, Conflicts, Sadness, Loss
A: Sorrow/Displeasure (Dispiacere)
2: The Old Woman (La Vecchia Signora)
3: The Widower (Il Vedovo)
4: Malady/Sickness (Ammalato)
5: Death (Morte)
6: Sighs/Sighing (Sospiri)
7: Misfortune/Disgrace (Disgrazia)
8: Despair/Consumed By Jealousy (Disperato per Gelosia)
9: Prison (Prigione)
10: Soldier/Military (Militare)
11 (J) Enemy/Male Enemy (Il Nemico)
12 (Q) Foe/ Female Enemy (La Nemica)
13 (K) Priest (Sacerdote)
Q (Quadri) Diamonds
Money, Property, Material World, Rewards
A: Room (Stanza)
2: Letter (La Lettera)
3: Gift/Gift of Precious Stones (Presente di Pietre Preziose)
4: Falsehood (Falsita)
5: Melancholy (Malinconia)
6: Thought (Il Pensiero)
7: Child (Bambino)
8: Servant/The Maid (La Donna di Servizio)
9: Pleasure-Seekers/Madmen/Delirious (I Deliranti)
10: Thief (Il Ladro)
11 (J): Messenger (Messagiere)
12 (Q): Wife/Married Woman (Donna Maritata)
13 (K): Merchant (Mercante)
Again, I will cover the meanings of these cards in a separate post, but many of them should be fairly obvious, at least when the cards are upright!
Notice, too, how many are VERY similar to those in the Kipper deck which I discussed in the previous post here:
As such, I would say that, although learning to read either of these decks shouldn’t prove difficult for your average Lenormand reader, there are, in my view, way more similarities in style and use between Kipper and Sibilla than Kipper and Lenormand. I will again be covering some of the key ways you can familiarise yourself with new card systems in a future post.
How does reading with the Vera Sibilla deck compare with Lenormand?
SIMILARITIES TO LENORMAND
- Sibilla decks have a storytelling system, in which you string card meanings together into a ‘story’ for the person being read
- All Vera Sibilla cards have playing card equivalents but the Gypsy Oracle version does not (it just has the images)
- As part of the storytelling, you do blend card meanings together, but they’re situational or people, not conceptual and thus are fairly direct.
- You can do three, five and 9-card readings just like in Lenormand, and in much the same way. Thus, if you’re familiar with how to read Lenormand cards, you shouldn’t find Sibilla cards particularly difficult.
- Cards which have similar meanings include: House, Child, Love, Journey, Letter, Messenger (Rider) and you have things like the Death card (Coffin), a Sickness card (Malady), A Gift card (a bit like the Bouquet), various Misery type cards and so on. I’d say that these have more nuanced versions of these things in a way.
DIFFERENCES FROM LENORMAND
- The Vera Sibilla deck has the full 52 cards, not 36.
- The Cards are NOT numbered, unlike Lenormand (and Kipper). The only reference is playing cards, and these do not appear on the Gypsy Oracle deck.
- Cards have both upright AND reversed meanings, just like Tarot! So, in fact, that’s 104 separate meanings!
- There are MANY more people cards to choose from, depending on the situation, and no single Querent cards
- You can easily read a single Sibilla card as single situations and people, whereas Lenormand usually requires combinations to give you the detail.
- Sibilla cards are therefore more suited to layouts where you have single cards in particular positions in the spread BUT are usually more usefully read together as part of a story.
- You don’t, as far as I know, read Sibilla in Grand Tableaus, although I guess you could do a 52-card version.
- Cards are direct and situational rather than symbolic – so although you can do 3, 5 and 9 card layouts, the answers you get will be quite different from those in Lenormand.
- As above, this Sibilla deck (NOT Gypsy Oracle) has additional numbers… including lottery numbers!
- Again, like Kipper, really great for fortune telling and situational specificity, but also for getting into depth with an issue in a practical way. They really are great fun to use, but take a while to get used to because of all the meanings.
Reading With La Vera Sibilla or The Gypsy Oracle Cards
As with the Kipper deck, I’ll save the detail for new posts another time, but you may be asking, “Okay, so if I were to pull those three cards in answer to a question, what might the answer be?”
Say the question here was: “What should I look out for today?”
And remember, the cards are: Servant/Maid— Pleasure-Seekers (Madmen)—Thief. None reversed in this case.
The cards are situational, like the Kipper cards, but can also influence each other in the same way as the Lenormand. Or you could just read the story in them from left to right in a straight sequence:
A ‘servant or maid’ figure, ie a person who’s meant to be helping (Servant/Maid) gets carried away (Pleasure-Seekers/Madmen) and steals something (Thief). Or, a thieving ‘servant’ or junior person goes a bit mad – perhaps gets a kind of ‘high’ from stealing – and steals from you.
So, in summary:
What should I look out for today?
Someone junior or who’s meant to be helping goes a bit mad and steals something from you. So watch out – you could have a kleptomaniac in your midst!
Want Your Own Sibilla or Gypsy Oracle Card Deck?
In the meantime, if you’d like to buy a Sibilla or a Gypsy Oracle Card deck and begin exploring for yourself, you can click on the linked titles below to take you to Amazon. Both of these are by our old friends Lo Scarabeo.
La Vera Sibilla/Oraculo Diario – Everyday Oracle Deck (Italian)
Remember, DON’T get the “Sibilla Oraculo/Indovina” deck if you want this one – it’s a completely different system! It MUST be the Vera Sibilla if you want the same as the Gypsy Oracle – but it is in Italian. OR, if you don’t mind no playing cards and you want them in English, get a deck that looks like this:
Oraculo de Gitano/ Gypsy Oracle Deck (English & Spanish – no playing card references)
The Sibilla Oracle Cards “Sibilla Oraculo/Sibilla Indovina”
“Sibilla Oraculo”with the “Parlour Sybil” design based on the French original is a similar Oracle card deck, which is very traditional, beautiful in design and also lovely to use, but does not have quite the same cards/references or meanings as all those listed above, so please be aware of that. I will be looking at this deck in more detail here another time.