Deck Review: Rumi Oracle

A Wooly Review updated (1)

Today I’m going to ramble on about the Rumi Oracle by Alana Fairchild with artwork by Rassouli.

When you move beyond consciousness, you caress the beloved.
When you move into the unknown, beyond everything, the beloved caresses you.
-Rumi

I got this deck as a gift from Katie’s mom for Christmas.  I learned about Rumi in a img_0441class called Mysticism and Islam when I was in undergrad.  When I saw that someone had created an oracle deck about him I was so excited.  I knew I had to have it right away.

Rumi, also known as Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, was was a 13th-century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, jurist, Islamic scholar, theologian, and Sufi mystic.  He was also queer.  He had a lover named Shams who he loved very dearly.  And in doing a little more refreshing reading about him to write this post it made me really angry to find out that Rumi’s queerness is totally absent from his wikipedia page.  It’s also totally absent from the book that comes with this deck.

img_0440It’s yet another example of queer erasure.  You see it over and over again, this awesome queer figure and the things you read about them talk about everything else, and completely fail to mention that they were queer.

I’m specifically disappointed that this guide book does not mention this.  Fairchild talks a great deal about sensuality and sexuality and awakenings and about Rumi’s great loves.  She speaks about his love for the Divine and his love for all of us, but conspicuously fails to mention his great love for Shams-e Tabrīzī, a man he met in a market and loved fiercely.  Rumi is perhaps most famous for his poetry, including the love poetry he wrote about his relationships both with God and with Shams.

I also found it really weird that there was so much Christianity talked about in a img_0439guidebook for an oracle featuring a Muslim.  While it is true that Islam teaches that Jesus was a prophet, it still felt jarring.  And honestly it felt like pandering to the straight Christian demographic.  Why else spend so much time about Jesus in a book about a queer brown guy if not to ensure that your white christian possible buyers will feel comfortable buying your product.

I was, however, excited to see that in the interpretation for each card included there
is a translation of some of Rumi’s verses.  If I use this deck I think I’m inclined to toss the guidebook and just focus on Rumi’s poetry and the beautiful artistry of these cards.

img_0442Because these cards are really beautiful.  They come in a very sturdy and well made box, it’ll protect them quite well and it holds the book that comes with.  The deck contains forty four cards.  They’re large cards, 3.75 x 5.5 inches.  Each one depicts a different person or idea and each has a beautiful painting.  Some have human figures some don’t.  But they’re all beautifully painted in a rainbow of colors and shades each on inviting you to linger over the images, sometimes you see a woman dancing another time you might see the fins of some mythical sea creature.

I can see myself using these cards as meditation aids because there’s a lot you can mull over in them.

So yes, in summary, I love the art, I don’t love the book, I like the poetry.  I probably won’t use the deck for readings, but it’s not a total loss.

6 thoughts on “Deck Review: Rumi Oracle

    • Wooly Witchy says:

      Sufism is a mystical tradition within Islam, so yes, he was a Muslim as well as being a Sufi. We could certainly engage in some debate over how he might have chosen to self identify. He probably would not have identified as gay if only because the term for an identity distinct from behavioral characteristics is a much more modern concept, but in the way we speak about him now it’s fairly appropriate. Really, only Rumi himself could really tell us exactly how he would choose to identify, but he was a Master in the Mevlevi/Mewlewī (depending on how you transliterate the word) Sufi order, which, as I said before, is a mystical tradition in Islam, which makes him a Muslim.

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    • Themis says:

      Rumi wasn’t queer – that’s projecting postmodern values on Sufism and similar Eastern mystery traditions popularized in interpretations by a gay scholar Andrew Harvey. All the Sufi writings, when translated to English, use sensual terms to describe the spiritual experience and student/teacher guru relationships. So instead of saying “God” or “Guru”, there will be references to the “Beloved” or a “lover”. Descriptions of ecstasy in Rumi’s poems are metaphors, not literal accounts. Of course, as an individual if this inspires you to view queerness as sacred, great, but Sufism and Rumi’s poetry were’nt created with only that limited perspective.

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      • Wooly Witchy says:

        You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but omitting that he had a romantic partner who was the same gender as he was is queer erasure. And that’s not okay.

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  1. Shango Macho says:

    I agree that omitting his love interest is definitely a form of erasure. However, I believe it is really important to recognize that categories and feelings around sexuality have evolved over time. The “queer” and “gay” identities are a movement sprung up by the hate and violence promoted by the religious right and old rigid scientific communities (behavioral psychology). The ancient world showed a different relationship to sexuality, more fluidity is/was acceptable.

    And this is the very definition of the “Gay Agenda”. Queers from western culture seek to enforce or validate their definitions of queerness on other cultures. And while many cultures queer acts may fit within the queer definitions of western culture. Those cultures in which you impose, may not accept the label.

    You would be hardpressed to convince some people that a tomato is a fruit since it’s only rarely naturally sweet. Functionally it is a vegetable, in many eyes, though botanically it is very much fruit. If we are going to hold more space for queerness across culture and TIME we need to expand our understanding. And as the alphabet gang grows LGBQTIADF, i think it should be increasingly obvious that the spectrum of sexuality is at least 3 dimensional.

    Rumi wouldn’t call himself gay any more than all of the straight men that love and copulate with transwomen. Categories do more harm than provide understanding for those who declined to adopt the western perception and definitions of queer identities.

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    • Wooly Witchy says:

      I agree that we cannot force categories on people who never had the chance to choose them, and you’ll notice that I haven’t said anything like ‘Rumi was gay’. The idea of sexuality being a part of identity is a more modern conception. However, when we don’t even acknowledge that these relationships existed we do harm to queer folks by denying their existence throughout history. Categories and labels when we are allowed to choose them ourselves can be healing and also make us feel like we aren’t alone.

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