Interview: Ana Cortez-The Playing Card Oracles and The Book of Knowing

I had the honor of interviewing Ana Cortez! She is the author and co-creator of The Playing Card Oracles and one of my favorite readers! Her information and insight is stellar, as well as a really groovy person! Check out the interview:

Shaheen: Ana, you are the playing card lady… tell us briefly how your journey began with playing cards?

Ana: Well, it was all through my Father and the free-spirited women he taught to read cards. I first saw the fantastical images he painted for the playing cards when I was a young teenager, but didn’t think much about it at the time. My Dad was always doing something in the realm of the occult so that was normal for me. Later, when I was about 19 years old, his girlfriend showed me what he had taught her – how to actually use the playing cards as a mystical instrument. I was hooked!

Shaheen: How have you evolved as a reader over the years?

Ana: Well, I certainly have done a lot of experimentation with the same system over the years. Because every reading is unlike any other reading that has come before, I think I have learned I can never really master the cards, but rather my own ability to remain a learner. So my evolution is to become more and more sensitive, more and more receptive to the unique messages that are coming through. The multi layers in The Playing Card Oracles allow me to cross check what I’m saying so I use this technique a lot.

Shaheen: I personally love The Playing Card Oracles; they have so much life and energy. Your father was truly a visionary and clearly, channeled the cards. Do you believe the cards are just symbols or do you think they are windows into another world?

Ana: Windows into another world is a perfect description. They are just symbols until they come alive in a reading, become a vehicle of communication between worlds – between what is seen and what is unseen. So yes, to see between worlds we need windows. The images on these cards are powerful that way.

Shaheen: I have always been curious about the cards in The Playing Card Oracles and now The Playing Card Oracles, Alchemy Edition…they are people with names, lives and realms. Where did that come from? Are there more stories and writing hidden away somewhere?

Ana: My dad was truly a visionary and was able to see worlds, realms, personalities in the playing cards. He broke down a doorway, opened perception for others. There is so much hidden away. The possibilities sparked by the 52-card deck kept him occupied for decades. From my father’s estate there are stacks and stacks of original artwork, poems, a novel, screen plays, even episodes for a television series – all based on card reading/ divination with the 52 card deck. Unbelievable, really.

Shaheen: As a reader myself, the cards are more of a tool, almost a springboard helping make intuitive leaps. What are the pros and cons of using cards as a tool? Do you think the cards are always necessary?

Ana: I love the cards as a tool because for starters they are fun. It is great for people to see images for their own reading, images communicate in a way beyond words. So images hold so much possibility. Your client can get a feeling from pictures beyond what you are telling them. I sometimes would like to ditch the cards myself, just go on intuition, but again, I love the imagery. This is why, as a reader, you must connect to the images of the deck you choose. Cards are my way, no matter how strong my intuition becomes. The cards, again, can be like a cross-check, a confirmation of what I am picking up without them.

Shaheen: Ok, so I want to get to the juicy stuff!! You made a recent discovery, another treasure trove of paintings by your father CJ Freeman that illustrated the playing cards. How are these cards different from The Playing Cards Oracles?

Ana: Well, first Shaheen, let’s get it straight. This interview is juicy already! What you are talking about is the art for the “Alchemy Edition.” This art, to me, has a quality that the Playing Card Oracles doesn’t. When my dad painted the “Alchemy Edition” art, he knew nothing about divination with playing cards – only a suspicion that something “juicy” was going on.  He had no one to copy, not even himself. It was pure inspiration, pure connection to other worlds. So this was his first work. It was this work that broke the door down.

Shaheen: You’ve fittingly named this new collection of playing card paintings, The Playing Card Oracles, Alchemy Edition, what can we expect from this deck?

Ana: I want this deck to be an instrument that connects people to their own knowing – like we were talking about the joining of intuition and cards. I also like the idea of a book, as the 52-card deck is a complete book of knowledge, an occult masterpiece, if you know how to read it.  There are going to be some real surprises about how to read and work with these cards that should rock the card reading world, new things including but also beyond the Playing Card Oracles – including some of what my dad intuited while painting the images that has not yet been published.

Shaheen: Can you tell us a bit more about the evolution of The Playing Card Oracles and The Alchemy Edition? Why did your father do different versions of each card?

Ana: Cards are never finished. Never just one thing frozen in time forever. Have you ever had a dream where you were looking at cards? I can tell you that they are morphing as fast as you can flip them. In a dream I see something amazing I want to remember on a 3 of Hearts, for example. I turn a few cards further, and then I want to see that 3 of Hearts again. I flip back to find it and it has changed. It is now different. I have lost the former image within the depths of my subconscious. This is why we have to allow our interpretations to be liquid, and see the unique message each time. Symbols must be broad. My father was a very intuitive artist and he would let his hand move on it’s own – like automatic writing but drawing. He had a very strange way of holding a pencil. So things came through. If my dad were to return today, from the world he has visited now in the afterlife, I am sure he would have a whole new deck to give us. But it would never in-validate decks or images already given.

Shaheen: The similarities in The Alchemy Edition and the Playing Cards Oracles are apparent, but I am more fascinated by the differences. Why are they so different? Does that change the information?

Ana: Yes. I think there are enough similarities that it won’t feel like starting from scratch, far from it if you are familiar with The Playing Card Oracles. But the differences should be enough to stimulate new ways of reading the cards. A whole new reader may come out in you as you read with this deck! Enough differences only to remind us we need to remain the learners.

Shaheen: All of the 8’s in The Playing Card Oracles, Alchemy Edition are powerful and evocative tell us more about them specifically?

Ana: Well. 8’s are powerful in and of themselves, because they are 8’s. This is what my father and I were taught as we brought forth this work. The 8 of Spades, specifically, just freaked me out forever and only since I have begun to read with this deck do I appreciate this card. It is a very powerful message bringer and communicates something so important in so many readings, now I wonder how I got along without it.  The Faun freaked me out big time also. Really, some of these images were just embarrassing to me. Now I realize it is because of the power they have to bring. There is nothing reserved. So messages are harder to ignore. It doesn’t mean they are negative messages, mean something “bad.” It means it is a strong message. For example with “Guilt,” the 8 of Spades, I have been getting that lifetimes of suffering are commonly represented by this card. That is a lot of suffering. This card shows me that what may seem to be of small significance in a person’s life may actually be loaded with significance, for example.

Shaheen: Your ideas, projects and discoveries never cease to amaze me… do you have any other oracular surprises in store? …Just give us a little peak at what’s next!

Ana: Oh Lord! (Is that wrong to say in an interview?) I am constantly surprised by my own work and when it is not this way I will not be doing it anymore. This is the way I let Spirit come into my work. I always want to be an instrument. So. Yes. There are loads of things in the pipe way. I only hope I have the strength and time to bring them all through. Hmm… a peak? Well, I think I said a few things about the “Alchemy Edition” that is enough of a peak for now.

Shaheen: For those who are salivating over this deck and were disappointed that it didn’t get published, you gave permission to personally print the images so people could make their own deck. What compelled you to do such a generous thing?

Ana: Oh. Undoubtedly these cards will be printed. I trust everything that happens is for reasons that are important, and no exception with the funding flop over at Kickstarter. They will be printed in a different way that will fit the project more appropriately. Also, since the funding attempt, the paintings have been restored so that the colors are more brilliant than ever, just the way my dad painted them 30 years ago. Varnish yellows over time and I didn’t realize the extent of the change that had just gradually occurred. So the new photographs of the paintings will just be perfect. Now I realize how critical this was, although I never saw this coming, never dreamed the turn things would take. I am always grateful.

Update: Ahh!! Yes, the Alchemy Edition of the Playing Card Oracles is now a reality! Buy a deck and touch the Universe!! Playing Card Oracles, Alchemy Edition. 

Shaheen: Ana you are brilliant and I love your work. I hope to see more of your writing, as well as your decks! Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. I love visiting Wonderland😉

Ana: THANK YOU SHAHEEN!!!  You are a dear🙂

Please check out Ana at her website, You can see the images from Playing Card Oracles, Alchemy Edition. . And be sure to order a copy of The Playing Card Oracles and the companion book.

The Book of Knowing

Co-creator and Author of the Playing Card Oracles, Ana Cortez, has recently collected old, magnificent, paintings created by her father C.J. Freeman and she is now working to create another fantastic deck called, the Book of Knowing. If you aren’t familiar with the Playing Card Oracles, they are an amazingly insightful deck of playing cards, illustrated with images that speak to the symbolic nature of divination with playing cards. The deck is one of my all time favorites and I have done many post here at with the deck.

This new deck, The Book of Knowing, is going to be even more stellar! The deck is again, a set of illustrated playing cards. Originally done as huge paintings, by C.J. Freeman in the 70’s, this deck is going to be a wonderful contribution to the world of art and divination. PLEASE HELP Ana bring this deck into the light of day, by contributing to her Kickstarter compain, click here The Book of Knowing.

11 of Spades: Honor Your Spirit

Learning to walk the line between worlds. Being in-touch with your spirit.

If you’re like me, then you probably feel like you don’t spend enough time being creative and spiritual. You probably feel the pressure to spend more time in relaxation and peace. Whenever I am doing readings people always tell me they wish they had more time to be spiritual and to do things they love. But we often put that last.

That pressure that you feel, is actually your spirit longing for air, asking you to stop for a second and acknowledge it. We spend our time worrying about responsibilities, but you need to be part of that list of responsibilities. You cannot light the candle of others, if you let your own fire burnout. It’s an essential thing.

Start with a small daily task. Let it be something you can easily commit to at first. Maybe reading a page or two before bed of an inspirational text or repeating positive affirmations for two minutes after brushing your teeth, or maybe listening to your favorite song a few times. I like to give myself at least 1o minutes of “me” time. Sometimes it’s as simple as thumbing through my favorite picture book.

If you can muster the discipline to spend a few hours each day, for you… then you will start to feel so empowered and at ease. Peace only comes when you allow yourself to be still. Meditation is powerful in this regard. Guided meditation, breathing mediation, walking meditation and general mindfulness can all help you to become more balanced and centered.

You feel the longing, just as I do… to be more mindful of your own essence. Don’t put it last on your list. If you listen to that call you will find that so many other pieces of your life fall into place, seamlessly. Your spirit is the truest part of who you are… so live from that place. That is my wish for you and for me… for the world. It would be a much better place.

Much love,


© Shaheen Miro 5/4/2012

from the field of stones to the garden of life

I have been doing a lot of thinking and writing about manifestation… as you will see in my next post. Through my own personal spiritual work of late, I have realized that manifestation is about moving things in and out of our lives. I have spent a lot of time removing old attachments, feelings and worn out beliefs and in the process I have begun to feel much lighter.

It is interesting how you begin to see things once you have let go of the attachment to them. We all become emotionally invested in people, feelings, ideas, places, events and goals… as we should be… but those things aren’t always the best for us. We must learn to discern what truly vibrates with our inner self.

Now that I have stepped away from a few “situations” in my life, I am able to stand back from them and see them for what they really are. I find my response to many of these things interesting now that I am looking from this vantage point… some of the words I would describe them with are: Heavy, dull, stagnant, constricting, uninspiring, and dark… to name a few.

I decided to shuffle the cards today at random, just to see what they had to say and a few fell out. They seem so relevant to my recent thoughts. The 8 of spades: the field of stones and the 8 of hearts: the garden both fell out. In many ways they are opposites of each other and they compliment each other so well. 

The 8 of spades, is the absence of color and life, the field of nothing but stones because all that remains is the shell and the memory. Things have worn out and died away… its time to lay the old to rest and move on. There is nothing here in the field of stones to find, but ghost and worn out feelings.  This is where we need to leave all that isn’t working in our lives so that we can have want we want.

The 8 of hearts, is called the garden because it is the place of life and fertile energy. Everything here is filled with life, color and potential. Unlike the field of stones, the garden represents the present moment, where we plant the seeds and the future where we watch them bloom. You have control in the garden because this is the place where you become conscious of what you sow and what you are working to bring to life.

These cards have such visual chemistry as well because if you look at the spades they look like inverted hearts… without the vibrant red.  This leads to another bit of wisdom, what you want should fill you up with warm and vibrant energy, it should inspire you and breathe life into you. Unlike the cold and bare spades… hearts beat and pump with pure energy. What you want in life should lift your spirit and feed your energy.

Rock on gypsies…


© Shaheen Miro 12/15/2011

daily card: Dango, the knight of diamonds

Dango, The knight of Diamonds, he walks the tight robe... living on the edge is what he does. He likes the thrill and the fantasy and he lives for the praise of the audience below. He is warning to you that you are over working yourself. Take time to release stress and tension. This time of year can be extremely stressful. Check in with your body and take a few minutes of relaxation to avoid fatigue.

daily card: the king of hearts

Good King Nichomiah, The King of Hearts is a jolly fellow, but he has his demons. He often avoids life by overindulging in things, whether it is food, drink, music or people. You will find him being the life of any party because it’s easier to make people laugh and be merry…. Than to face his own reality. His heart is as big as his belly and if you were ever in need he would extend a helping hand. The issue is that he tends to be a little unstable. He reminds us to stay grounded in the present moment. Remember to have fun, but to make sure you are addressing your responsibilities. You have to take time to take care of yourself and by taking care of yourself you gather the strength to address all the other not so fun things in life.


I’ve been feeling a little bit ungrounded lately, trying to juggle myself between school, life, and all the things in between. Sometimes I feel like I need a respite from it all, just a little more time to allow myself to be… in silence and healing. Sometimes I imagine the strong and gentle arms of the universe cradling me, with warm and loving embrace and a lullaby that calms my heart and soul. I wish I could stay in those moments forever.

The 11 of Diamonds. Walking a thin line, between contrasting worlds. Stress and tension. It may be time to come down and rest.

It may be wise for me to invest in a mental health day, just to lay around in my pjs and read or do something that is carefree. I am in dire need of a recharge. I think that this time of the year always lends itself to letting go of things… it’s a time of purging the old and the worn out. I have been in an intense process of alchemy for some time now, London was a huge part of this, and now that I am back the change continues… but I am now really learning to let go.

Part of me is saddened by this process of letting go because it means that I not only have to let go of worn out ideas and beliefs, but also people. Sometimes we out grow our time together and we have to say goodbye, with love and thanks… we cherish the good that comes with a friendship/partnership and then it’s time to move on and we have to keep the good with us… but it’s never easy.

I have been learning to not take things so personally from other people because we are all doing the best we an at the time, but I am however learning to take better care of myself. I am learning that I teach people how to treat me, how to love me, how to respect me… and if it’s not how I want to be treated then I have to make a change. Now is the time for me to wave goodbye to the old ones, the dying legends. I want to recover the parts of me that have been buried under dust.

For some time I haven’t been writing here because I just haven’t known what to say, but I hope that can change soon. I want to share everything, and I want to know all the facets of your story as well. For me I’ve needed a bit of rest from writing because I’ve needed to be with my feelings on the inside. Lately I haven’t felt that inspired, school especially has been hard. I feel like I am not hearing my muse… and sometimes I feel like I am recycling old ideas. I have always said that the chronic things in our lives are teachers that we have decided to ignore… maybe I should ask myself what I’m not learning.

I know that this time of year is about letting go, like I said we are purging for the rest of winter. How are you feeling? Is there anything that you are trying to let go of? Maybe it would help if you wrote it down somewhere… maybe write an “unsent” letter to yourself, or the person who you are feeling trouble with. Allow yourself to release, even if it feels scary. You will feel much lighter if you trust in the process… I am trying to do that very thing.

Many blessings to all of you… to the gypsies


© Shaheen Miro 10/10/2011

Weekly reading

I pulled a few cards to ask what energies we need to bring into our life’s for this week. I picked three cards from the playing card oracles deck asking: physical, mental and spiritual.

Card one: two of clubs (physical)
This card speaks about waiting. I see this as diet goals or exercise or regimens. Anything about your health that you have been “waiting” to do needs to be taken care of now.

If you have been ignoring any health issues or avoiding signs that something is wrong then please address this now! I want you to also look at this card as a representative of your sense of shelter. Is there anything you’ve been waiting to do with your home?

Card two: nine of hearts (mental)
What are you hiding from the world? This card is asking you to being out your true feelings and to get things off of your chest. Far to often people put up fronts trying to appear one way when really they feel another. Eventually the suppressed feelings wear you down and imprison you.

What have you been hiding from? What have you been hiding behind? It’s time go let go and set yourself free. There is nothing to fear about be truth. Truth can be ugly and it can hurt but ultimately it will set you free.

Card three: eight of hearts (spiritual)
Spiritually you need to be planting your seeds and allowing to grow all the dreams you’ve ever had. This card is the garden and it reminds us that we have the spiritual potential manifest whatever our heart desires. The tricks go manifestation is to be conscience of it.

This card also ask us to look at what we’ve allowed into our spirit. What have you accepted as your truth? What have you held onto past the point of being healthy? Remember that our thoughts, feelings and beliefs are all components in shaping our reality.

Take this to heart. This could be just the thing to get you through a difficult week!

All the best,

(c) shaheen miro 4/24/2011