Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Interview with David Rosenhaus, creator of the Rock'n'Roll Oracle

As you all know, I have been following the Rock‘n’Roll Oracle for a while now.  When I spotted it I thought the concept was great.  I know I’m not the only one who is strongly influenced by music, and has song titles pop into their mind at the strangest times :)  I was delighted when the creator, David Rosenhaus, finally started offering these decks “in the flesh” as a self-published enterprise.  He's now also running a Kickstarter campaign to try to get them published more professionally, so sign up if you'd like to help out and net yourself some cool freebies to boot!  

Anyhow, back in August I did my daily card for a week with this fun and insightful oracle starting here.  Having emailed back and forth with David a few times, first when I got a reading from him and later when I asked if he was happy for me to blog with the deck, I decided to try my luck and see if he’d be willing to answer a few questions.  I was delighted when he said yes, and here is the result (first published in the TABI Autumn Ezine):

To start off, could you give us a bit of background about yourself?   How did you come to be interested in both music and decks?
Well I've always been interested in music. I wrote my first song in the 2nd grade. The music teacher put music to my lyrics and played it for the class. It was a horribly cheesy Thanksgiving song. I remember one line from it still: "Turkeys are very good to eat, November 25th they're beat."  Obviously a lyrical genius even at age 7, haha.

I've always written poems and lyrics, but could never really play an instrument well. I've tried to learn guitar and piano and just don't have a knack for it. So I wrote lyrics and sang in rock bands when I was in my early 20s. Actually I have posted some of my songs (which I finally recorded a couple of years ago) on the Rock and Roll Oracle Facebook Page and on They were all written back in the '80s, but I think they stand up fairly well.  

I spent most of my life pursuing an acting career on and off, and managed to create some good (or at least fun) movies in Hollywood, but nothing that got the career moving. Once the turn of the century hit, things started shifting for me big time and I started on a more spiritual path. I ended up splitting with my wife and leaving California to go back to New Jersey where I'd grown up.  My girlfriend Robin is an amazing healer and helped me tap into my authentic self. She also introduced me to Tarot and Oracle cards and I thought they were great fun.  I couldn't really get a handle on the Tarot because I got too caught up with the book and kept blocking myself from really using my intuition.  But the Oracle cards just clicked. They usually have that one word or phrase that acts as a springboard, but doesn't give so much information as to impede the intuitive flow, so I was able to use almost any deck immediately. I love the simplicity of them (did I mention I'm a little lazy?).
And what first inspired you to create the Rock and Roll Oracle?
It's amazingly simple, actually. I was driving one day and thinking about some issue I was having, when a song came on the radio that literally answered my question. I immediately realized that inspiration and spirit guidance can come from anywhere. Spirit gives us a never-ending stream of signs to guide us, we just miss them most of the time. I realized that this wasn't at all the first time a song has guided me when I needed it.  When I got home I immediately started looking for a music-themed oracle deck and couldn't find one. There was one Tarot deck which is out of print, but it was focused on using famous musicians as the Archetypes and that didn't resonate with me. I couldn't believe that this hadn't been done before.  

There are no coincidences, and I happen to be a graphic designer, so I decided to create the deck I wanted myself.
In terms of images, they seem quite varied.  How did you create the art work for the deck?

Completely by feel. I started with the song titles and then thought of the simplest visual concept to express the idea. Some were obvious like having a moon for Bad Moon Rising or a dock for Dock of the Bay, but I always made sure there was enough depth so the user can get lost in the imagery and really find their answers in an intuitive way.  Some of the images may seem simple, but the subtleties run deep.  For example, the clock for Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (could that title be any longer, haha?)  At first glance it's just a clock, but then you notice that it gets blurry and a little surreal. Then maybe you notice that the numbers are actually going counter-clockwise. So even if you are a literal-thinking person, you still can't say for sure if it's 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock. What is reality?  That's the key question of that card. So again, while I tried to make the images as simple as possible, there is always more to see if you look a little deeper.
Was it hard choosing which songs to use as inspiration?
There are so many great songs out there. We're talking about over 70 years of Rock'n'Roll music to choose from.  That's why this is only the first edition of a series of decks. There will be another Classic Rock edition (this one only goes up to 1973), then I'll do '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s.  I also want to do Rock Goddesses and maybe some genre specific decks like Heavy Metal, Grunge, Punk, etc.  And I will be doing a Tarot deck as well.

So yes, it was very hard choosing the songs. Even after I decided to limit this deck to early Classic Rock, I still had 1000's of songs to choose from. I also knew intuitively that I wanted a 44 card deck.  The only song I'd decided from the start would be in there was Stairway to Heaven. No way was I leaving that out, but otherwise I had no idea.  I made database of all the songs I could find and whittled it down.

Originally I was going to be open to using a line from the lyrics as well as the title, but I realized that wouldn't be clear and people may not recognize a lyric as easily as a title. So that helped get the list under control.  The title itself actually had to say something.  For instance, that immediately eliminated songs with names. Eleanor Rigby is a great song with a beautiful spiritual message about how we live our lives, but title doesn't get the point across as well as Let It Be.

Another criteria was that I only wanted one song per artist. It would have been easy to have several Beatles or Simon and Garfunkle or Doors songs. Those groups were highly spiritual and we can learn a lot from many of their songs, but it just didn't seem right.  Plus I have a pet peeve about classic rock radio stations always playing the same artists. I mean, I love the Stones but can I please have just one day without them?

Once I got the list under control with those filters, I was able to go by intuition. I still had a few hundred songs on the list, and I would just read the title out loud and ask Spirit to guide me.  I think I actually ended up with 45 songs, but I couldn't channel an image for one of them and it just fell off the list by default.  Spirit's great like that.
Did one particular card give you trouble?  If so, in what way?
Of course it was Stairway to Heaven. I think in part because I chose that song logically/egoically without Spirit's help.  First of all, there is so much incredible imagery in the lyrics, I wasn't immediately clear on what the message of the song really was.  I also didn't want to get caught in the trap of doing a visual that was any kind of religious depiction of a religious-based heaven. It became a whole internal conversation about what heaven really is and how to visually portray that.  And again, what is the Universal message of the song?  With all those choices presenting themselves, I finally went "DUH!" the message IS "Choices" and the concept of heaven is represented by the Penrose Staircase which is actually an optical illusion. It doesn't matter if you go up or down you will always end up going around to where you started.  Heaven is where you are right now, every time, so I place the stairway in a sort of limbo between the sky and the earth but you can't really tell where it is.  Ultimately heaven is within us and I can only hope and trust that comes through in the image.

If you had to pick one, which would be your favourite card?
Wow, that's a tough one.  If I HAVE to pick one, I think it would have to be Purple Haze/Confusion.  The image is actually a shot of Jimi Hendrix playing Purple Haze that I did some major Photoshopping to, and you can really feel that energy.  There ended up being some "accidental" imagery as well. I can see huge Angel wings and a heart and that lets me know that no matter how confusing things get, we always have love and Spirit around us for guidance and protection.  

What have your experiences been like reading with the deck?
Absolutely mind-blowing. Like all of us, I've been intuitive my entire life. But I've only started tapping into it consciously in the last couple of years and still question if my "hits" are real or imagination. I certainly don't consider myself a "psychic" and I wasn't actually planning on doing readings. I just wanted to make the deck. But people asked, so I did readings.  The level of accuracy completely blew me away.  I've learned to trust what comes through and when I do, it's bang on.

Sometimes it's very funny, too. Some people like to argue with the messages they receive. One time a friend didn't like the answer she got, so she re-shuffled and pulled again... and got the same card.  That's kind of cute, but it was really hysterical when she pulled the same card FOUR TIMES in a row!  Don't mess with the Rock'n'Roll Oracle deck!
What do you make of reversals?
Every coin has a flip-side. I think one instinctively knows if the message should be flipped, so I don't put much stock in reversals myself.  Plus, I'm sort of anal-retentive at times, and I shuffle my cards carefully so they never turn. That said, I do recognize there are no absolutes. If a card does turn I think it's a good idea to consider the alternative meaning, but ultimately one must use one's inner guidance to discern how to look at it.
Which spreads do you most use, or are you more "free form"?
I'm totally free form.  As I said earlier, I have a tendency to get in my head and for me a spread requires too much thought. "What does this position mean again?"  Sometimes I'll do the simple 3-card past, present, future, but mostly I pull one card and if necessary, additional cards for clarity.  I have to say though, that I did have fun creating spreads for this deck. It was a fun challenge translating  "standard" spreads into the musical realm and I'm really happy  with the C7 and Les Paul spreads and I hope everyone has fun playing with them.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Just that I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about the deck and I'm really grateful for your support. I love helping people and though I never could have anticipated that this would be the way it would happen, I am just so thankful to have found a way to reach people that is fun and spiritual at the same time.  Rock on!


  1. Chloë...this interview truly rocks! :)

    I know many music lovers and this would be a great gift idea. :)

  2. Great interview Chloë. Thanks for sharing. David's ideas remind me of myself way before tarot and oracles. I also used to ask questions and set the shuffle setting on my CD player, hoping the next song would answer my question. I never realised I was divining.

    I also like his views about oracles. I can relate to them, I like tarot a lot but I find oracles can sometimes send me further, which is why I have ben using them more than tarot in recent weeks. I feel as though they are better for my present mood, where I want a little more freedom.


  3. This is fantastic! What a great original idea, and from what I've read it is excellent for readings. Thank you! Look forward to shuffling this one day. Another one for the wishlist....

  4. Hi MM,

    Yes, it's true it would make a good gift for music lovers, and it's due to ship in December... ;D

    Hi PLN,

    I know what you mean about oracles - they are less fixed than the tarot, which means they can more easily send us somewhere very different. Still, I love both - I'm polyamorous when it comes to decks ;)

    Hi Monica,

    I think if your mind clicks with music, this would definitely add another dimension to your divination. And until you get your hands on one, you can get on-line automated one card readings on David's facebook page: