Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Review: The Art of Affirmations

The Art of Affirmations
Author: Monte Farber
Artist: Amy Zerner
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, 2022

Description: 108 card deck, 28-page guidebook

Size: 2 1/4 by 3 1/4

"With The Art of Affirmations as your guide, you will be able to develop spiritual skills, energize your life, and restore a sense of well-being."

The Art of Affirmation is three individual decks with a focus on Divine, Healing, and Breathing. Each deck contains 36 cards of images and messages to help guide you in your journey.

The decks are packaged in separate boxes, which fit inside the larger box with the guidebook. 

The cardstock is of a medium thickness and allows for easy shuffling.

The guidebook opens with a short introduction, which is followed by a detailed explanation of the different decks and how they can be used. The rest of the short guidebook covers the individual decks in a little more details.

I would have liked to have seen more information about each card. As presented, I didn't find this deck very helpful. But you may connect with the images and messages in a way I did not. In my experience, any deck is a personal choice and very individual to each person. 

The deck of Divine offers 36 Gifts of the Goddess. There are 12 Goddesses - the Goddess of Protection, Compassion, The New, Perseverance, Truth, Illumination, Healing, Transformation, Prosperity, Balance, Charisma, and Courage.  Each Goddess offers a message for the body, mind, and spirit.

The Goddess of Balance offers the affirmation, "I create partnerships that are fair and pleasurable," to assist in guiding your spirit.

The explanation is to "Use this gift when you are lonely or when existing relationships are unsatisfying. Partners you bring into your life...". Basically, what you put into the relationship is what you will receive in return.

The author suggests picking a Divine card and using that card to replace the negative thoughts you may be hypnotizing yourself with. 

"If done regularly and with sincerity, you may soon be surprised at the changes you see starting to occur in your life."

The Heal deck offers 36 individual themes, affirmations, and exercises for mental, physical and spiritual wellness.

“It is important to be as aware of our habits as we can be, so that we can cultivate the habits that help us and replace that habits that hurt us with habits that heal.” 

The affirmation for the Inspiration card: "I feel my inseparable connection to All There Is."

The suggested exercise: "Prayer and meditation are powerful and necessary, but when you bring the awe-inspiring feeling of your connection to higher forces into your daily life, you will find yourself both inspired and inspiring."

The Breathe deck includes 36 individual themes, affirmations, and meditations or exercises for your mind, body, and spirit.

  "...coupled with visualizations and breathing exercises, these affirmations can enhance your energy flow and self-esteem and put you in a state of relaxed concentration. This is “the zone” where optimum learning, analysis, and planning can take place.”

The theme Beauty offers the affirmation, "I am beautiful."

The meditation: "Beauty is found in the exchange of love between all beings. I breath in the beautiful colors, fragrances, and forms around me. I am filled with the beauty that is my birthright. I breath out the critic's voice that says things are not perfect."

At the end of the guidebook, you are given a basic breath-easy exercise. 

The top of the box has a slot for displaying your card for the day. This makes it easy to come back and review your affirmation or exercise for the day.

I personally did not find myself drawn to this deck. I was attracted to the idea of pulling a card a day to energize and direct my daily living, but this deck and its process left me pretty much empty. 

But, that's not to say this deck won't find a home on your shelf. If your find the images pleasing and the messages helpful, this may very well be your deck. I hope the samples here will help you in your decision.  

(Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Review: The Transparent Oracle 2nd Edition

The Transparent Oracle 2nd Edition
Author/Artist: Emily Carding 
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, 2022

Description: 77 card deck, 207-page guidebook, box with magnetic closure lid.

Card Size - 5 1/4 circular

"The devil is in the detail."  

The second edition of The Transparent Oracle is now a 77-card deck. Seven archetypes have been added to each direction. 

"...the addition of archetype cards will add extra clarity to readings about your relationship with people around you, as well as aspects of your personality."

The Transparent Oracle follows the Transparent Tarot in creating a new way of reading cards. The transparent quality of these decks allows the reader to stack the cards and create a fuller, deeper reading. The decks were so popular that the author came back with 2nd editions of each with added information and cards. The application of the decks separately, combined or even added as an overlay to another deck is amazing, thought-provoking, and a nice escape from the normal reading. 

The cards come in one of Schiffer's signature boxes with the magnetic closure lid. Inside you find the circular deck, a white reading cloth, the guidebook, and a large square insert of the Below Guide: Sidhe, creating a layered image of the guidebook's cover when in the box. 

Do not enter this deck lightly.  You will need to put in some work to get the full benefit of these cards. 

Let's take a look at some of the cards and the system.

The deck is structured into seven directions - North, South, East, West, Above, Below and Within. The four directions: north, south, east, and west include: one gateway, four animal guides, weather, a landscape, a time of day, an element, and an elemental. While the Above has ten gateways, one guide, seven planets, and a polarity. Below has a gateway, four guides, four grail hollows, and a polarity. Within includes a gateway and nine ways in which the self relates to the rest of the world. 

Above you see, 23 West - Element: Water - revealing the energy of emotions, healing, and intuition, 76 Below - Archetype: Nurturer - the healing of others, and 11 South - Gateway: Summer - revealing the abundance of joy.

My overview of these three cards would definitely be of a caregiver who loves his/her job. But that is very simplified. The guidebook goes into more detail and dives deeper into these cards. For instance, when 11 South - Gateway appears with cards from Below, it can possibly reveal the discovery of a family secret.

When you overlay the cards, you see Summer frames Water, creating a sense that the center of attention is the emotions which radiate from the caregiver. Again, the system is a little complicated and what you have here is a very simplified interpretation. It will take some time and study to get the most out of the deck and its message.  

Before we discuss the guidebook, I'd like to show you the amazing results of using a light box. The author makes the suggestion in the Care of the Cards section. Because I needed this tool for other projects, I decided to make the purchase.  

Below, you can see the details explode!

If you plan to go the distance and dig into the depth of the Transparent Oracle, or even the Transparent Tarot, I suggest you spend a little money and purchase a light box. You can find a wide range of prices on Amazon.

I went with a wireless version, because I wanted the mobility - Golspark Wireless Light Box @ less than $30. There are more expensive versions, but also cheaper, depending on your budget.

The guidebook begins with a Foreword to the Second Edition, which discusses the additional cards, the archetypes. A Foreword, by Sorita D'Este and David Rankine, follows with an outside look of Carding's creations. "This deck crackles with arcane emblems and themes and reminds us how art, like music, can be a form of magic as effective as any ritual."

After a short introduction from the Author, there's a short section which briefly explains the oracle's system and energies.

Section Two dives into the card meanings. Each Direction has a short overview, followed by the meanings of each card in that direction. The cards of directions, North, South, East, and West, include their direction, an image, the card name, keywords, meaning, and 'if combined with cards from other direction' meanings.  The cards of Above, Below, and Within include their direction, an image, the card name, keywords, and meaning.

The archetypes are separate from their suites. Each card includes an image, the card name, direction, keywords, and meaning. 

Section Three includes using the cards, shuffling and focus intent, suggests combinations of three and then gives sample readings for divination, storytelling/brainstorming, visualization and combining with Transparent Tarot. Section Four shares three spread suggestions by David Rankine. The guidebook closes with a bibliography and an about the author section.

I highly recommend this deck to anyone who took a special interest in the Transparent Tarot. The Transparent Oracle gives the reader a new way to read and goes deep into the ways of life with its many possibilities. The deck can be used with simple keyword interpretations. But I suggest taking the time to dig into the deck to receive the full messages available. 

For me, shuffling presented its own challenge. The size and flexibility of the plastic make this deck difficult to shuffle, but I suspect a technique will develop in time. The results of the readings are definitely worth the extra effort. 

59 Grail Hollows: The Stone, 13 Element: Fire, 55 Guide: Mermaid

Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)

Monday, October 17, 2022

Review: Clarity Tarot

Clarity Tarot
Author: Debra Zachau
Artist: Kait Matthews
Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing, 2022

Description: 78 card deck, 176-page guidebook, lift-lid box

Card Size: 3 by 5

"Now the secrets of the Tarot are brought to light so that anyone can clearly hear the powerful messages that will resonate with one's soul through the Clarity Tarot."

A Tarot deck is a personal tool to help guide you in your journey. Your choice of deck is also very personal. While I did not feel a connection with this deck or its design, you may fall in love with it. I hope this review will help you in your decision.

My main concern with this deck is the quality of the card stock. Although the thin stock allows for easy shuffling, it also allows for easy wear. The cards without use are already peeling and curling on the edges. I'm not sure how much damage will occur over time, or even if more damage will occur at all. I've never used a deck of this quality.

The guidebook begins with a short introduction and then shares the five unique components of the Clarity Tarot.

You not only know what spirit is trying to tell you but 'how to say it' in a way that is completely unbiased, centered, and supportive of someone who may be needing direction.

1. Keywords on Love and Money - the author suggests that the keywords will make it easier to know you are going by intuition over imagination. The most-asked questions are about love, while the second most popular are money and career. Although this statement may be true overall in the Tarot world, these are not my main focus, so I find the keywords distracting.

2. Easy Yes/No Answers - No one is satisfied with just a yes or no answer, so this deck answers not only yes or no but why the answer is yes and why the answer is no! Someone may find this component helpful, but I, personally, avoid such yes or no question altogether.

3. Timing Is Everything - This may have been a nice feature, but there must have been some confusion between author and artist. The focus is on the Major Arcana cards for this timing technique. That major card will have a number on it: a Roman number on the left and a modern number on the right. That number will be from 0-21. You will then use your intuition to decide if the time increments are days, weeks, or months.

As you can see on the Magician, there are no numbers on the card at all. With the mention of 0-21, I assume you are using the original number of the Major Arcana cards. But the fact that the author and artist didn't follow each other on this idea is a problem for me. Also, the technique of laying cards down until you find a Major Arcana Card for a timing question seems unreliable in my opinion.

4. Rich Cultural Images - Tarot is a very old form of divination, and traditional decks hold traditional Old-World biases, especially within the court cards. The idea that this deck is unique because it offers other cultures would have been true at some point in time, but most decks I see now are very diverse in their representation of people throughout the cards.

5. The Design - Kait Matthews has brought together an exquisite combination of colors, symbols and images in a collage that inspires and delights not only you the advisor but your clients as well. The images of the deck are unique and interesting, some more than others. Overall, I do like the images the artist created for the deck. Without the distractions, I believe this would be a nice working Tarot deck.

The author then shares a short section on how to use this deck, which briefly covers the Major and Minor Arcana, ways to cast a throw or spread, and reversals.

Part Two of the guidebook, What's in a Number, is definitely worth the read. This section covers the Minor Arcana, beginning with meanings of the numbers 1-10 and then covers the suits before diving into the individual cards.

The Minor Arcana card section is brief with no images. The short sections cover card title, Y or N, a short paragraph on meaning and gives the keywords that appear on the card.

The Court Cards are then covered with a short introduction into the royal court, and then presents each suit as a separate family in an imaginary neighborhood. Each family is presented as a whole and then as individuals. The individual text includes title, Y or N, a description of the individual and the keywords that appear on the card.

Part Three covers the Major Arcana with a brief overview and then the individual cards, including title, Y or N, meaning, and gives the keywords that appear on the card.

In my opinion, the card meanings are worth looking over in the guidebook, but it would have been nice to hear more about the actual images. The author mentioned the uniqueness of the decks' design, but never mentions in the card section anything about the exquisite combination of colors, symbols and images. If this is one of the components making the deck unique, shouldn't there be some mention of the description of the cards - the colors and symbols chosen to make them unique?

The last part of the guidebook is titled How to Give Awesome Readings. This section covers framing questions, using your intuition and three spreads (The Celtic Cross, Five-Card Yes/No, and a Timing Spread).

A cheat sheet is provided containing card title and keywords. Since these keywords are on the cards themselves, I'm not sure why you would need a cheat sheet.

The guidebook closes with Serving the World, where the author shares her experience of different jobs as a Tarot specialist. In the final words of the author, she mentions videos online to help you learn the tarot, but doesn't give any information about where you might find these.

Overall, I found the card images decent, and they closely follow the Rider-Waite theme. The guidebook was lacking in my opinion, although some sections are worth the read. I was extremely disappointed by the card stock quality, which isn't something you normally need to worry about with a Schiffer produced deck. 

However, if you can look past the card stock and the distracting keywords, you may wish to give this deck a try. A new reader may find the keywords useful. Since the deck follows the traditional themes in the card images, it may be a good starter deck. As a seasoned reader, I find the decks' components distracting and unnecessary.

I am considering trimming off the keywords and adding the deck to my shelf. I'm just not sure if it's worth the time and effort to do so.

Kait Matthews is offering complimentary decks on her website for reviews, if you'd like to go that route and give the deck a chance.

You can also purchase a deck from Red Feather/Schiffer Publishing.

(Review Product supplied by Schiffer Publishing)