THE HAUNTED HOUSE ORACLE
FINDING INSPIRATION FROM ECHOES OF HOME & SPACES OF DISUSE
The Haunted House Oracle is a deck of 44 cards being created by me, Amy Bennett of Full Dark Paranormal Explorers. Historic architecture and the ways in which humans use and interpret their individual spaces has always intrigued me, but I could never articulate how before now. Empty, older homes seem to speak volumes despite their silence for many who find their gaze lingering on these forgotten structures. From my beginnings in historic preservation and archaeology, to a paranormal filmmaker and Trustee on the Board of the Albany County Historical Association, the before and the now have always felt inseparable. The Haunted House Oracle is an artistic and esoteric endeavor in the hope that it can become a tool in paranormal, spiritual and divination practices for any who need it or might connect with it.
CREATING THE DECK
Every oracle deck has a story of how and why it came to be, and how it can be connective to anyone in their own divination practice. This project is inspired by other magical community members who've taken their art to the practical with their own decks, like Katie Webb, Scarlet Ravenswood and Jamie Gold. My goal with The Haunted House Oracle is to provide space for open interpretation based on the imagery and the feelings inspired by each card design. I want the deck to offer wide variation on the traditional haunted house with photos of real places that I've visited or investigated and felt the specific pull of a different space and time around me. I want the deck to be able to reflect emotions and insight back to the user that they can interpret for their own inquiry. I hope to have it printed through the company Printer Studio, with a custom box and guidebook. This process is not cheap, and to include fully designed packaging might carry a steep cost. Eventually with the deck's final design in place, I hope to launch an official Kickstarter campaign to bring the deck to print and be able to give back to those who believed in this project. The Haunted House Oracle is entirely possible though, with your help.
The journey of this deck's creation will be public and will be something I hope you'll join me for, right here and on Instagram @thehauntedhouseoracle. Your support in backing this personal divination project means more to me than I can express. If you're able to help support the beginning stages of creation for The Haunted House Oracle, you can donate through the PayPal link below. The ideas are already coming together to push this project to where I can have rewards for supporters in place through an official Kickstarter around October. Getting this deck to print can seem like a monstrous effort right now, but I'm excited to finally synthesize this idea over the next year and anything you're willing to give will help.
There are countless people out there creating decks all over the world, and there's a few whose work and their own decks, both oracle and tarot, spoke to me enough to want to do this myself. Check them out, and click the titles to be taken to the artist's pages to purchase your own Key Tarot and Bridge Oracle.
The Key Tarot
by Jamie Gold & Scarlet Ravenswood
I watched this deck come to fruition over time after I learned an online acquaintance named Aly Kravetz, known as the Bronx Witch was to be part of it! She's the World card. I was so excited to watch this deck be created from idea, to Kickstarter, to fully complete project. Jamie and Scarlet really let their supporters into their creative space and have posted how the photography for each card was shot, edited, and layered into each individual card. And the people in the deck are all magick practitioners and tarot readers as well. It's a truly beautiful work of inclusive, relevant, and stunning art.
The Bridge Oracle Deck
by Katie Webb
This oracle deck is so unique, and Katie's process in creating it was really personal and intuitive, and I appreciated that (and she's effin' rad) in a deck creator. Each card is a photo she snapped when encountering something that inspired a particular tapped-in feeling. It's difficult to articulate, but visceral. She's spent many years doing tarot and intuitive work, and continually offers fresh takes on both tarot and oracle reading.
After interacting with her here and there on social media and attending her presentation on tarot during Phenomenacon 2, it was a no-brainer to purchase this deck. And with her cards come a personally sourced Maine quartz rock.
The first house and the very first card of the deck. This isn't the final iteration of the card or artwork, but simply a photo that will become one of the cards. This is a home determined to be part of the project, and part of my life. This is the starting place and one of the photos I've had saved to begin this entire endeavor, and where the inspiration first sparked for the deck. From the Guidebook description: The Haint Blue porch ceiling says more than it seems to at first.
With the places I've previously photographed organized, there are now 10 locations that are solid candidates for The Haunted House Oracle! No famous haunted locations will be part of this project, only the kinds of houses that seem like they could be part of any landscape. The shape this deck takes needs to have that anonymity to the art. Myself and Ryan will be going on the haunted house hunt for the next few months, and any video updates will be on Instagram @thehauntedhouseoracle!
The project is public. Listen, I'm nervous, but sending this deck idea into the world coincided with spending time at two very famous (infamous?) haunted houses in WNY. The validation from fellow weird women and empowerment while within two "haunted houses" gave me the push I needed for this. There was just enough of the unexplained, and a lot more explained than we'd expected. I'm ever grateful for that opportunity for bonding and friendship within the strange and unusual! 🖤
Let me introduce you to the second of 44 haunted houses. This farmhouse sits halfway up a sloping hill in New York State, and was discovered on accident by myself, my partner and our friends. It's surrounded by fields of tall grass that's grown as high as my shoulders and was browned and going to seed when we visited. I think it speaks to me in how it's situated in a protected location, away from the road and wrapped in a blanket of nature like it wants to be hard to see.
I promised transparency and updates and now at number 5 I feel I'm almost overdoing the updating. I'd have considered IGTV videos to talk more than write short posts, but those went away. The ball got rolling on its own though, and I only want to share more of the process and places as they happen and as I find them. This home is a city building with a rich backstory. 20 minutes from me. Say hello to the third haunted house.
I have a lot more houses in photographs from the past 5 to 10 years than I thought, and that makes me more excited and feeling capable. This little house looks like it's actually held up by trees, which is something I didn't notice about it until recently. This little half-hidden haunt is from northern New York State.
It's been a great week for abandoned homes in the Upstate New York area! Three more houses, all 99% definite for the deck have been found and photographed. There's one in particular of those I may go back for more shots of, since the front lawn was a literal lake. Gorgeous though. I'm so glad to have mapped and found these new, old houses.
I couldn't have asked for more gorgeous, empty, exquisitely decaying homes for this deck. Two weeks ago my partner and I drove west to find them, and we were able to enjoy their exterior uninterrupted in a tiny town. Two "Painted Ladies" will be in the deck, and I couldn't be more excited for these finds. What's insane is that these homes sit on the main street of the town, and yet not a soul cared that we circled and photo'd them. I got the sense that the locals love these places too.
I need to do a drive into the mountains to the southwest to get more houses on camera. The two most recent I found are stunning, and while they're relatively unknown, I'm glad they're decorated with an over-the-top appearance to be able to really say something poignant within the deck.
There's a lovely surprise in the deck and that's a house or two from a few states away in West Virginia. A really unique part of that state as well, with the Ohio River down the block, and what seems to be some cleanup happening at one of them. The neighborhood sits atop a hill and overlooks the other bank of the river, accompanied by old storefronts and empty lots overgrown with grass and false strawberries. I love a good surprise haunted house or two.
It's been a summer! After heading overseas into a heatwave and several weeks of family gatherings, it's time to get back on the road. The road is a circle though, and this time I'm headed south and west for some haunts in high summer. Hopefully the foliage makes them look great, not entirely hidden or inaccessible!
Unreal, but somehow 16 of 44 haunted houses, to be edited and formatted into cards, are photographed and set to be part of the deck. Our last trip downstate to the Catskill Mountains gave me two more houses, and I know there's at least three more in that region (that I've found on Google Earth and have to photo). It's a bit of a bando goldmine due to its depressed economic state for the last 50 years, that leaves a lot of places left behind for someone like me, in a roundabout way.
We're nearly halfway there! And several final edits are...done. 😯 I'm surprised and excited for where it's going at this point, and reinvigorated now that I've got my custom Adobe Lightroom presets ready to go! I used tutorials, got it down. On to more sizing and finalizing. 💻
It's locked in - the color scheme and theme of the deck is done and the preset for edits is final. With a poll to help the decision along (I love that), the final look of the cards is crisp with cool saturation, and some dusky overlays to make sure you do, in fact, think perhaps that house may very well be haunted. I'm glad this step is done for every house finalized so far, it's just a matter of finding the rest of them and giving them their names and key aspects. Progress!