Artist Nicole Piar has hand-painted 48 cards that call upon the familiar spirit of the cat to heal us, guide us, inspire us, and bring us joy. When I’m hit with a bout of anxiety, feeling stressed, fatigued, or need comfort, going through these cards will lift my spirit up immediately. There is a soft, playful, and gentle energy about the Spirit Cats oracle deck that will absolutely elevate your mood and put a smile on your face.
Piar has depicted these cats as kami, or nature spirits, and reflect a cat kami that is here as your guardian spirit or spirit guide. The deck in its entirety is the embodiment of a cat animal totem, which you can call upon for daily guidance, creative or intuitive inspiration, and to cultivate peace of mind.
The Tarot Activity Book by Andy Matzner was first published in 2013 but has recently resurfaced in a surge of popularity. I speculate that it might be attributed to the recent rise in interest for the intersection of tarot and psychology and use of tarot in life coaching. That particular facet of tarot practice is on trend right now, so perhaps that’s why there’s this collective revisit of Matzner’s treasure trove of a book.
Matzner is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, life coach, adjunct professor, and published author. His other works include Male Bodies, Women’s Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand’s Transgendered Youth and The Buddha Diet: A Guide for Creating a Positive Relationship with Food and Eating. You can read Matzner’s full biography and background here.
By the way, I also came across the podcast interview of Matzner on psychology, self-care, and the tarot. The theme of the podcast is centered on the intersection of tarot and psychology. You can listen to it here, on The Hermit’s Lamp podcast.
The Tarot Activity Book is an indispensable resource to be included on any tarot enthusiast’s bookshelf and I maintain this stance for several reasons. The prompts in the book help you to build relationships, not just a relationship with yourself, relationship with others if you work through the exercises collaboratively in a group setting, but also your relationship with any particular tarot deck.
One of my favorite uses for this book is to follow a handful of the exercises with a newly acquired tarot (or even oracle) deck that I want to connect with better. Although maybe not shadow work per se, many of these prompts are incredible for personal reflection and rumination, so they’re great to incorporate into your private journaling, especially if you’re trying to wrap your head space around a particular situation.
The Awakened Soul oracle cards by tarotist Ethony and artist Danielle Mulligan are a treat to behold. It is the divination deck for the modern witch. It is evident to me that these deck creators have called upon the spirit and consciousness of 21st century Gaia and channeled Her messages to us. So much of Ethony’s energy and blessings have been infused into this deck that it’s quite the honor to work with these cards.
Let’s start superficial, of course, with the box. Oh gawd I love the box. I love the matte finish, the sturdiness, the interior bee design, an incredible symbol for how Mother Earth nourishes life by calling upon the services of Her children and a call to each one of us to channel the spirit of the bee in our own endeavors and in how we nourish our society.
Not only have I been using the oracle deck for daily ritual and rumination, but many of the clients I read for have, too. It was quite surprising to me the number of clients I work with who also had this deck, so it was great that they could follow along with their deck when I provided oracle readings with the Awakened Soul.
That’s right. I’ve done professional readings with the Awakened Soul oracle deck. I broke my own rule. As some of you may know, generally I do kind of get elitist and poo-poo use of oracle decks in professional reading sessions. I stick with tarot and as a client, would prefer to go to readers who stick to tarot. Lenormand decks are okay too, but I had avoided the oracle-oracle decks. Yet something about Ethony’s deck called to me, and I really, really wanted to share its energy and power with those I was working with.
Tony Christie is an author, inspirational speaker, artist, spiritual healer, and labyrinth designer. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol that is over 4000 years old, and what it is in a nutshell is a winding, circular path from a perimeter outer point to the center, or the heart of a matter.
Use the labyrinth as a form of walking meditation. You ask a question before the walk, hold that issue in your mind, then walk the labyrinth and when you reach the center, the revelation will come to you.
Likewise, the Labyrinth Wisdom Cards are intended to operate in the same way. Hold an issue in your mind, then pick a Labyrinth Wisdom oracle card, and see what the labyrinth card has to say to you.
Let’s give it a try. Think of a question or issue that you’d like an answer for. Hold that matter in your mind through the course of this post, before selecting a card, and then at the end of the post, you’ll select one of those three Labyrinth cards.
I’ve put together a self-guided workbook that takes you through one session of shadow working with a tarot or oracle deck. I used an oracle deck I created for myself, which I share for free here (scroll down). Go there and you can download all digital files for it to print out and produce your own copy of the deck.
However, I would not recommend using my little deck unless for some reason you have a deep, personal, and intuitive connection with it. =) For this particular type of work, go with a deck that feels like your extra limb–it’s that much a part of you. Go with a deck, tarot or oracle, that is home to you, that you know well, a deck that knows you well. Get what I mean? Use that deck that you’re simply in love with. I do not recommend using a deck you’re just starting to learn how to operate. I even wonder if an oracle deck with keywords or affirmations, rather than tarot, would work better for this particular workbook. In any event, that’s up to you. Tarot or oracle, I recommend that you take time and care selecting your deck before you start.
The above photo shows you the items I recommend you having on hand when you sit down to run through this session. I find that blending internal Q&A, cartomancy, and very, very simple little rituals results in a shadow work session that anyone can do (even if you’re not a tarot reader, you could use an oracle deck with keywords and captions that requires no prior card experience). I certainly did not get ceremonial here. I tried to keep this to something anyone, any joe shmoe or jane doe could work with and get some value out of.
Did want to note that when I write stuff on pieces of scrap paper that are to then be burned, I use joss paper. Joss paper is thin, and the ones I have are made of rice, and were made intended for you to burn, so if you can get your hands on thin joss paper for the write something + burn it components, that’d be great. However, I’m sure normal paper works fine. Just observe all standard fire hazard precautions.
Also, it makes sense for you to scroll through and review the workbook first, to make adjustments as needed, so the exercise resonates with you, and then print it out to do the session. Think of the direct download of this workbook as a default setting. Once you get the default setting, you may need to customize it to fit you. As my hubby has said many times, he never direct downloads software and accepts its default settings. He always customizes, and I think this is worth your while to customize. I’ve created the default setting to, obviously, fit me. I mean. Come on. I don’t even know you. 😉
I’ve been trying to figure out a way to get into doing tarot readings for myself, but in a way beyond, like, you know, I don’t know, the normal stuff of just specific question or general readings. That wasn’t motivating me to use my cards for myself. This workbook, however… this… yes, this is what I’ve been searching for in terms of reading tarot for myself. (Or oracle cards.)
My personal experience with the guided session was perspective changing. Even if you’re skeptical about some of the really woo practices I recommend, which are interspersed throughout the workbook, I hope you’ll acknowledge that there’s something oddly calming about it if you actually indulge in the practices as instructed.
Now, what is all this really about? The “Independent Shadow Work Cartomancy Session” workbook is a free gift I’ve put together for those who register for the 2016 Card Reading Magic Summit hosted by bestselling deck creator and author Tori Hartman.
All speakers are giving away a free gift to participants of the Summit as a thank you for your time. By the way, look at this amazing lineup of speakers. Free shadow work workbook be damned, don’t you want to register and partake in this Summit no matter what?
The Summit will run online, via video interviews with the speakers, from September 14 through 18, 2016.
To register, FOR FREE no less, click on the below affiliate link. (It’s my affiliate link. I don’t really understand. I’m just following directions here. So. Affiliate link. Please click. I’m supposed to ask you to use my affiliate link and the free gift, that shadow work workbook, is my enticement to you to do so. So. Please click.)
By the way, in case you’re wondering, yes of course please feel free to use the contents of the workbook in any way you’d like, as you will. That means if you’re a teacher or spiritual counselor and want to incorporate content from my workbook, in part or even in whole, as-is or modified, for client sessions or workshops you teach, that’s totally cool by me, though a tiny shout-out to Benebell would be appreciated greatly, but it’s not like I’m going to police the Internet. (I’m not going to police the Internet.)
And if you’re a blogger or vlogger who wants to present the workbook and talk about it with your audience, omg hell yeah do you know how stoked I would be by that? Don’t even bother asking for permission. Just be sure to link me so I can watch like a giggly and totally flattered schoolgirl.
The amazing and illustrious Tori Hartman, author of the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Cards has organized an incredible event–an online cartomancy summit. For access, you’ll need to register. Click on the banner above and register to partake in the summit. Registration is free right now! How cool is that! And just check out the lineup of speakers.
No matter where you are in your card reading journey, there is always more to learn about this art that none of us can ever truly perfect. So Tori Hartman has put together a free virtual intuitive festival. By registering, you’ll get the benefit of rarely-heard insights in conversations with well-known groundbreakers and up-and-coming experts.
Card Reading Magic is an online event that features 18 speakers. It will take place between September 14 and 18. For more details, you’ll have to sign up.
During this virtual intuitive festival, you’ll discover:
– How to gain more specific, in depth information from your readings
– The five essentials of card reading
– How you can use your intuition more effectively and naturally
– Mistakes that keep you from accurate readings
– How you can shift into the zone of being a card reader quickly and easily
– Simple techniques to move away from the guidebook
– How to put the story together for your clients by linking cards
– The insider secrets of self-publishing decks from experts who have done it
September 14 through 18, 2016.
Mark it in your calendar, folks.
A Free Gift?
Oh yes. By the way, every speaker will be giving away a free gift. Let me just tell you, I couldn’t quite figure out the instructions for what I was supposed to do exactly in terms of the logistics for giving away said gift. I know it’s related to getting you to register for the event through my link. So this is going to be my best guess for what I was supposed to do about the affiliate link, free gift, and such. So first, here’s my link:
Click on my referral link to register and, well, register. Free gift or not, it’s going to be an awesome summit, so register regardless.
Then e-mail me at email@example.com to let me know you’ve registered. Then I’ll email you the free gift!
What’s the free gift? It’s a 30-page[edit: added new sections, so now it’s] 35-page workbook, “Independent Shadow Work Cartomancy Session.” You’ll get it as either a DOCX or PDF file. In your email to me, let me know your preference.
09/01/16 Update: Okay, sorry but the “email me and I’ll send as attachment” routine was a bad idea. This post went up, I went to bed, I woke up, checked email, and it was bombarded with boldfaced emails for as far as the finger could scroll. Eeps. So we’re not doing that anymore. Instead, the honor system. Please register using my affiliate link and as my thank you gift to you, download the “Independent Shadow Work Cartomancy Session” workbook below. Choose between PDF or DOCX, or heck, download both if you really want.
So register, mark September 14 through 18 in your calendar, and email me to[edit: see above links for direct download] get your free “Independent Shadow Work Cartomancy Session” workbook. It’s a 30-page 35-page, 1-2 hour guided tarot or oracle card reading and shadow work session you do for yourself, the results of which, I have to imagine, are going to be provocative.
The Eternal Crystals Oracle Cards by Jade-Sky and illustrated by Jane Marin is a beautifully produced high-gloss deck that features 44 gemstones and crystals. Jade-Sky is a self-professed psychic-medium and channel and Jane Marin, in addition to being an artist, is a healer and life coach. The two have come together to create a visually spectacular deck.
No complaints here about the packaging. You’ve got a sturdy, high-gloss deck with an equally impressive companion guide.
Let’s start by having you choose a card, shall we? See below. Choose a card– left, center, or right, and remember which position you chose. We’ll revisit this reading later.
The deck features mesmerizing photographic art, mostly abstract, and selected I’m guessing in large part to invoke color therapy. These cards are incredibly calming to gaze at. Cutely, I sort of used this deck as a checklist of the gemstones I have in my collection. In the below selection of cards, I’m missing apophyllite, cerussite, and chiastolite, admittedly stones I’ve never even heard of before.
The imagery for each card is specifically selected to facilitate a connection between practitioner and the crystal in question, and by concentrating on that connection, you can experience the healing vibrations of the crystal… or so goes the companion guidebook.
The Art of Life Tarot by Charlene Livingstone is the tarot deck I would create. It’s totally up my alley in every way. Let’s bring together the structure of tarot with classical art and inspirational quotes from literary masters and spiritual leaders. That’s what Charlene Livingstone has done here and U.S. Games then materialized her vision into one of the most beautifully packaged decks I’ve seen.
The box that the deck comes in does a cool transformers trick and becomes a display stand. That rocks. Above you’ll see how it all works, with the box-display-stand showing The Empress card, which features a painting of Saint Catherine by Raphael and a quote by Denis Diderot on passion. “Only passions, great passions, can elevate the soul to great things.”
Now, let’s try a reading…
Above, we have five cards under five stones. Right to left, we first see red tiger eye. Choose the card below the red tiger eye for insight into work/career matters. If you want to know about your personal finances and money matters, choose the card below the citrine quartz. If you want to know about a creative project you’re working on, choose the card below the dumortierite. If you want a message on your current spiritual path, choose the card below the amethyst. For a wild card, for whatever message Spirit will impart onto you, choose the card below the crystal quartz.
Mudras: For Awakening the Energy Body is a deck and book set that I have had my eye on for months now, before it was even released out onto the market. The production value by U.S. Games here is way high. If yoga, meditation, or Eastern mysticism is of any interest to you, then I recommend that you get this deck.
The box has a beautiful matte finish, is sturdy, and the quality of the packaging is just about as good as it is going to get. The cards themselves are about 4.3″ x 5.0″, which make them large compared to standard size tarot and oracle decks currently on the market. The book is about roughly the same dimensions. In total you have 40 cards, which consists of 7 chakra cards and 33 hand mudras.
The LXXXI is an 81-card esoteric deck by Josephine McCarthy, Stuart Littlejohn, and Cassandra Beanland. It’s not a tarot deck, though you’ll see cards captioned “Chariot,” “Wheel of Fate,” Hierophant,” “Luna” (Moon), “Sol” (Sun), and “Death.” You’ll see “Fellowship” with imagery that may remind you of the RWS Three of Cups.
On a technicality, some might categorize LXXXI as an oracle deck, but I’ll just stick to what it’s been named: The Magician’s Deck. The LXXXI Quareia: The Magician’s Deck “draws upon the mythic, mystical and magical powers that underpin the magical systems that tarot eventually developed out of.” See here. “It is based upon real inner realms, real inner contacts, beings and forces that the practitioner of magic is very likely to involve themselves with. Because of this approach, the deck works as a contacted deck, i.e. used magically the images can act as gateways to inner realms, inner beings and magical patterns.”
The premise behind the LXXXI reminds me of the inner and outer gods concept in Taoism where, in short, certain “gods” reside within us (and they have names, along with descriptions of what they do) and certain “gods” are romping out and about, around us (both on earth among us and in other various supernatural realms). Granted that was the Cliff-Notes-Taoist-Deities-for-Dummies version but you get what I mean.
According to esoteric Taoist principles, a magician or metaphysical practitioner can invoke or summon these “gods” (I put the term in quotes because if you’re looking to translate/interpret the term, 帝, it can be “gods,” “emperors,” “divine beings,” “Divinities,” take your pick) and work with those energies to influence both the natural and supernatural worlds.
The deck is subdivided into four realms. Red bordered cards indicate contacts (the term that the companion guidebook for the deck describes these metaphysical energies as) from the Divine Realm. There are four contacts of the Divine Realm in this deck, pictured above. Star Father I correlates with Divine Intention. Creator of Time II is the energetic movement flowing from the Star Father toward manifestation. Holder of Light III expresses the eventual return of all souls to Divine Source. Archon and Aion are archangelic and symbolize a divine binary. In readings, the card serves as a warning that the practitioner has come to a threshold that cannot and should not be crossed. The message is to turn back.
In both the above photograph and the one below, note how some of the card titles end with roman numerals. I’ll address that later in this review.
Contacts from the Inner Realm are noted by blue borders, case in point Madimi, described here as the “Inner Librarian.” Madimi was one of the spirits that was purportedly in contact with 16th century occultists John Dee and Edward Kelley.
In the printing of the deck copy I received, the borders look more like a deep purple than a blue, but blue or purple, I’m not terribly concerned.
According to the deck description, the art here is done in oils, acrylics, and watercolors. They appear to have been polished and fine-tuned digitally afterward. The art and imagery is very much imbued with Western esotericism and is definitely going to resonate with any practitioner of such traditions.
So far I’ve been trying to remain fair, objective, and factual, but I’m going to break for a moment here and just gush. Omigod I love this deck! The deck fills a void in the tarot/oracle/cartomancy world that I haven’t seen any other deck on the market during the time I’ve been alive and interested in cartomancy even come close to filling. I am not a Quareia practitioner or even a practitioner of Western magic. I don’t even identify as a magician. And yet there is something for me here in this deck.