(Note: This post has been significantly edited since it was originally posted in order to provide more up-to-date information about the deck and its publishing history. The “My Original Review” section of this updated post contains my personal comments and review from the original post, with just some minor tweaking.)

About the Deck


The deck was created by Jamie Sams and David Carson, illustrated by Angela Werneke, and published by Bear & Company (now a part of Inner Traditions). Originally published as a 44-animal deck in 1988, the deck was re-released by St. Martin’s Press in 1999 with an additional 8 animal cards.

Version Basics

As far as I can tell, there are really only three basic packages in which the cards were sold to consumers: the original 44-animal deck with companion book; the 44-animal pocket deck with no book; and the revised and expanded 52-animal deck with companion book. Each of those versions may have had many re-printings and editions in which the book or deck may have changed slightly, but essentially those three versions seem to be it.

>> Original 1988 Version — Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Way of Animals

Medicine Cards - original 1988, 44-animal deck with red book Eagle card from new Medicine Cards deck

  • Published in 1988 by Bear and Company
  • Package details: The cards and book came in a cardboard slipcase that features the image from the Bear card.
  • Card dimensions: 3″ x 5.5″, with a white border
  • Deck consisted of 44 animal cards, 9 blank shield cards, and a title card, for a total of 54 cards.

The cards in this and the 1999 expanded version do not have the descriptions that are printed on the pocket deck, just Angela’s artwork and numbers along with the animal names. (The numbers help you to locate the cards in the companion book. Like the Druid Animal Oracle, the card meanings are not easily located in the book without a helping aide.)

The version I have has a notice that the cards were “printed in Canada by International Playing Card Company”. The slipcase also has a sticker that indicates that over 600,000 copies were in print at the time.

>> 1997 Pocket Deck — Medicine Cards: Just For Today

Tuck box for original version of Medicine Cards Eagle card from original Medicine Cards deck Card back on old Medicine Cards deck

  • Published in November 1997 by Bear & Co
  • ISBN: 1879181460
  • Package details: Cards come in a small tuck box.
  • Card dimensions: 2.5″ x 3.8″, with no border
  • Deck consists of 44 animal cards plus one blank shield card for Unlimited Potential

Each card of this deck features the name of the animal and a small image of Angela Werneke’s artwork above text describing the meaning of the card. Presumably it was intended to be used on its own, without a companion book, much like the Wolf Pack Tarot. This deck also includes one blank shield card titled “Unlimited Potential” that appears to have a different purpose than the nine unnamed, blank shield cards included with the original and expanded decks — the blank cards in those decks exist so that you can create your own extra animal cards; the “Unlimited Potential” card has its own meaning and, as a result, doesn’t really appear to be usable for an additional animal.

>> 1999 Revised, Expanded Version Published by St. Martins Press — Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Way of Animals

Book/cards case for expanded, 52-card version of Medicine Cards Eagle card from new Medicine Cards deck

  • Published in July 1999 by St. Martins Press
  • ISBN: 0312204914
  • Package details: I haven’t seen a copy in person, but judging by the pictures, it comes in a slipcase similar to the original version, though with Eagle on the cover instead of Bear.
  • Card dimensions: 3″ x 5.5″, with a white border
  • Deck consists of 52 animal cards, 9 blank shield cards, and a title card, for a total of 62 cards.

The new deck contains eight additional animals: Blue Heron, Raccoon, Prairie Dog, Wild Boar, Salmon, Alligator, Jaguar, and Black Panther. It also includes the same nine blank shield cards that the original deck did (so that you can create cards for any additional animals that aren’t already included) and the companion book.

>> Other versions?

There is also supposedly a US Games version, published perhaps in 1997 that I haven’t seen but I believe is essentially the same as the St. Martin’s Press version.


One of the decks I bought during my New Year’s shopping spree is the Wolf Pack Tarot. Despite the name, it’s really more of an oracle deck than a tarot deck — it has the expected 78 cards but none of the typical major/minor arcana cards. It was created by psychic Robert Petro in 1995. The first version of the deck was black and white and featured 60 cards with artwork by Bruce Silkwood. The later 78-card colour version was apparently created in two runs, with the first run somewhat lighter in tone than the second. It features the artwork of Pat Morris. Both decks were published by Wind Spirit Productions, Inc., and were printed in Belgium.


with maxed out Paypal accounts.

That debauched shopping spree continues. I think I’ve finally run out of steam, but that’s only because I’ve run out of money. The last purchases were doozies.

The other deck that arrived on January 11 is the Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot. It, too, is a gorgeous deck. I love the fact that the cats pictured are from the Prague Cat Shelter that were chosen for their personalities. The more I looked at it, the more it grew on me. I decided to go hunt down links for it and some other decks and came across the home page for it. That was a huge mistake. The version that I have is apparently the first edition. They now have a second edition, with slightly different cards and cleaner borders (the ornate border around the first edition cards is really busy). That wouldn’t be enough to tempt me except that they also have a limited edition (500 copies) Gold version. *That* I couldn’t resist, especially with the special bag that you can get for it. Then I made the mistake of checking out their blog, which in turn led me to their page, which in turn prompted me to buy a limited edition print of the Hermit card and the Hanged Man card. Those items altogether pretty much drained my bank account.

That’s good, in a way, since I came across a couple of hand-made decks* that come in special editions that would completely bankrupt me. It’s on my wishlist for my birthday so if I can be a good girl until then, who knows.

Of course, the copy of the Alcohol Tarot that I bought earlier that day (yesterday) didn’t help matters. Nor did the mousepad I decided to splash out on. It’s been an expensive week, on top of an even more expensive December.

* One is the Illuminated Tarot, a hand-made version of the Rider-Waite deck by Carol Herzer. (Derek Armstrong’s review at Aeclectic Tarot pretty much sums up why I want the special irridescent version of the deck, which costs a mighty $145.) Another is the Chakra Mandala (also by Carol Herzer), which costs $52.

Received two new tarot decks today (two of several that I ordered during a debauched post-Christmas shopping spree) and that got me thinking about tarot journals. Figured now was the time to create this blog as my own personal tarot journal. I know — the skin doesn’t quite match the title, but my favourite colour is purple and this is so pretty that it seemed a good choice. A return to the girly-girl me I used to be. Some day, maybe I’ll create a custom skin that is more fitting but, for now, this seems appropriate.

One of the decks I received is the Mystic Faerie Tarot. Can I say that it is an absolutely beautiful deck? Easily one of my favourites, if not THE favourite. The cards themselves are very slippery, though. They’re going to be tough to shuffle without inadvertently playing 78-card pickup. Even putting them into the gold organza bag that comes with the kit without losing a card or two is a feat.