March 3, 2022

Nick Bantock's Archeo Deck

Nick Bantock's Archeo Deck


I've been a fan of Nick Bantock's work since I found the Griffin and Sabine books on sale at a Barnes and Nobles around 2000, and devoured them. Bantock is an incredible artist and writer, with this amazing sense of both the magical and the liminal. So I was very excited to see that he'd published what looked like an oracle deck.

I've now read all of the Archeo book except the little drabble-fables (frabbles?) at the end, which I'm saving for study.

Bantock is very clear that it's more a self-exploration tool than one for divination in the usual sense (although of course that's always a valid use of div tools). These are meant to be a set of "personal archetypes", that you reinterpret as you need to, get to know as character or as people, tell stories to yourself about. You're also meant to expand your personal set, starting with the two included blank cards and possibly eventually building your own entire deck.

You might, in addition to telling stories about them, have conversations with them during meditation or trance.

Ignoring some issues of popular misconception about the differences between being a system vs being schizophrenic (with a side order of stigma about schizophrenia), which go by quickly in the introduction with a "don't worry about that, this is totally different" sort of hand wave (like seriously, there's a sentence, I frowned at it in dismay, and then it was past), it's pretty good at talking about ways to get at what is, for many people, a new way of thinking about self.

Which is, basically, having facets of self. Not separate selves, but masks within that the wearer of the mask can learn from. (My metaphor, not Bantock's.) Aspects of self, whom one can choose to externalize a little for a while in order to step outside and learn from, and then reincorporate, having learned something.

So. This deck presents forty Archeo (a term Bantock coined for the deck to reference both archetypes and the ways they stretch back through time to our ancestors), most of which have perfectly recognizable or parsable names that people will immediately begins to draw associations with. He's also thrown in Duende and Hiraeth, both of which I had to look up, and the latter of which is Welsh.

There's a list of questions Bantock advises asking of the deck as a whole, which I did and then drew one card for each, except the last which would up with two cards. Here it is in full:

What survival skills do you possess that might help me?
Demon - "I would teach you to recognize those who wish you ill."
If I acknowledge you, how would you benefit my understanding of the world?
Midwife - "I would bring you wholeness, fruition, beginnings and endings."
What do you know that I don't?
Lion - "I know self-restraint."
Which of the Archeo can best teach me better balance and judgement?
Hiraeth - That which I am missing in my life, that which I have lost and cannot even identify in order to find.
What am I missing?
Survivor - I am not seeing the part of myself that has the means to keep myself going when I must.
Duende - I am not seeing the part of myself that most fully expresses my creativity.

There, that should give you an idea of the deck.

I'm planning to make a daily study of the cards and work my way through the deck, see what happens.