Botanical Inspirations is a beautiful and unique flower deck and book set by Lynn Araujo and US Games Systems, Inc. It contains positive, inspiring messages using the Language of Flowers.
There are 44 cards, measuring 2 3/4" x 4 1/2". The cards are stiff, but easily shuffled. They make a lovely sound when shuffling, almost like the clacking of typing on an old typewriter. It seems a strange observation, I know. I have never before remarked on a deck's shuffling sound, as this is the first time it has called out to me.
The cards have no borders! This makes me as happy as can be. The backs are not reversible, but the cards aren't meant to be used with reversals.
The deck and book are housed in a wonderful, sturdy box whose top lifts up as if on a hinge. The set also comes with an organza drawstring bag, though with a box this lovely, I don't know who would choose the bag over the box to house the cards in.
There is a double-sided fold-out reference guide to the cards. On the left side, the cards are listed in alphabetical order (by flower name) and their keywords are listed on the right.
At the top of each card is the common flower name followed by its Latin or alternative name. Beneath the image are the keyword(s), followed by a quote. I love this added touch from Lynn Araujo (she also includes quotes in the LWB for the Dreaming Way Lenormand). She always finds the perfect quotes for each card.
The illustrator of the flowers is Pierre-Joseph Redoute (1759-1840). There is an extra card in the deck with a brief biography. There are four different rose cards in the deck (pink, red, white, and yellow) as a tribute to his trademark flower.
The backgrounds of the cards are beige with hints of brown and a vintage aged/worn coloring to them. I don't know what you call that, but it is gorgeous and really sets the perfect tone for the cards. Having a solid, plain background would have made this deck feel much less antique. It was a genius move in the creation of this deck.
The images in this deck exude elegance. It feels like the messages are gently whispered to you. I was so pleased to find my favorite flower in the deck (Tulip). Another favorite is Magnolia, done beautifully here. The Hyacinth and Hydrangea are gorgeous. It's a beautiful deck.
How it Reads
I first used this deck in conjunction with several tarot decks, pulling one tarot card and one card from this deck. It matched so beautifully with a number of decks (Tarot of the Cat People, Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial, Cosmic Tarot). It always complimented the tarot card meaning beautifully.
Then I used it by itself for a week, drawing a daily card, and it gave me something lovely and inspiring to contemplate each day. It was a wonderfully positive way to begin every morning.
I did have a magical encounter with the cards. On Easter Sunday, I drew the Daffodil card. I opened the book to read the passage and was flabbergasted to read the following words: "To many, the daffodil is associated with Easter, the Resurrection and the Vernal Equinox."! I drew the Easter flower card on Easter day, and I don't even celebrate the holiday! That was such fun.
Another day, when I had a bunch of errands to run, I drew the Magnolia card. I knew immediately what it meant for me, and it had nothing to do with the message on the card. There is a place in town that has my favorite Magnolia trees, and it lights me up every time I see them. So on this day, I knew the card was telling me to take a break in the middle of all my shopping to pause and visit the Magnolia trees. So I did just that. I brought the card with me to photograph them together (see below).
The 100-page book is the same size as the cards, so they fit inside the box together nicely. There is a two-page introduction from the author discussing her interest in all things floral, including gardening, flower lore and the Secret Language of Flowers.
The cards are not numbered, but the book is arranged in alphabetical order. Each card is given a two-page spread. On the left side of the page is a black and white image of the flower, and below this is the flower name, Latin/alternate name, Symbolism (keyword(s)) and quote. So the left side of the page gives all the information you find on the card itself, the only difference being the placement of the flower.
On the right side of the page is a passage about the flower, which includes tidbits such as flower details, scent, stories, history and symbolism. Beneath this is the Inspirational Message, which is the flower's meaning for you when you draw this card.
The passages are fascinating, and you can tell the author is passionate about the subject. There is so much to be learned about the flowers from this little booklet. I love learning about the Victorian meanings of the flowers. It reminds me of this novel I read years ago called The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. I love the idea of using flowers as a language, of giving flowers to someone with intention based on their meanings. It has a very ancient magic feel to it.
There are two spreads in the book: A three-card "Fleur de Lis Spread" and a three-card "Past-Present-Future"
This deck became an immediate favorite of mine. I fell in love with it instantly. It is so different from anything else out there, even from other flower decks. It stands apart in its elegance, grace and sophistication. It is important to me that I write honest reviews, so I always like to share what I don't like in a deck, in addition to what I do like. But there is nothing I don't like about this deck. I have no complaints, nothing I would have like to have seen done differently. It is beautiful and perfect just the way it is.
[In a perfect world, the Scorpio in me would love to see a dark sister deck, featuring poisonous flowers and the sinister, ill-intentioned side of the Language of Flowers.]
Deck: Botanical Inspirations by Lynn Araujo, published by US Games Systems, Inc.