Review by Bonnie Cehovet
“Tarot Affirmations” is a benchmark work on the use of affirmations in combination with the Tarot, based on James Ricklef’s stunning Tarot of the Masters deck. In his introduction James notes two important components of this book: (1) that the affirmations are being presented in conjunction with the 78 cards of the Tarot, and (2) that affirmations can be used for self-improvement, self-exploration, spiritual enlightenment, for understanding the cards themselves, and for putting into use the advice that is presented during a reading.
The affirmations in this book were originally conceived from work that was done with many different decks. Use here is made of black and white illustrations from the “Tarot of the Masters” in a very seamless manner. The cards are representative of universal energies – the imagery from various decks may be quite different, but the intent to reflect a specific energy is there.
James begins with a discussion of what affirmations are. He defines them as “truths that we tell ourselves until we manifest them”. How true this is! They are positive statements we make about specific qualities or things that we wish to manifest in our life. James feels that affirmations should be practical, easy to understand and assimilate, and direct in nature. He notes that combining affirmations with visualization or meditation helps to transport the information into our unconscious mind (which uses images and symbols to communicate).
Along with understanding the nature of affirmations, we also need to understand how to use them. James suggests working with them just before you go to bed, and again just after you wake up. He also suggests placing the relevant Tarot card where you can see it while you are repeating the affirmation. The point is made that when you use affirmations – state them with conviction! If you have to – pretend that you believe them! He makes a very powerful suggestion – that you look yourself in the mirror when stating your affirmation. In his words “It is said that your eyes are the window to the soul, and this technique makes use of that window.” The suggestion is also made to write your affirmation down and carry it with you during the day – along with the associated Tarot card (or a scan of the card).
Another suggestion was made that I think that even I, as a very “non” techie could do – that is to create an electronic image of the card that you are working with, add the affirmation(s) that you wish to use, and set this image as the wallpaper on you computer. How cool is this! I tend to work with individual affirmations over a period of time (generally three weeks), so this would work quite well!
James has created a series of excellent affirmations for each of the 78 cards of the Tarot. He shares this process with the reader, so that they can create their own affirmations if they want to. What you are looking for is a card from the Tarot that represents to you the issue/situation that you want to focus your affirmation on. He suggests three basic ways that you can choose your card: (1) go through the deck and deliberately choose the card that is best suited to your needs, (2) using the intuitive process, go quickly through your deck with the cards face up while considering the issue that you are focused on, choosing the card that feels right for your situation, (3) using the divinatory method, shuffle your deck well and choose a card at random. All methods have worked for me, with the divinatory method being the most “in your face”. Yes, the Tarot can be “in your face”!
James presents an exercise in which you draw a card at the beginning of the day, and create an affirmation for the day. I find this to be useful, as it grounds and centers you in your day. This can also be part of journaling. James suggests keeping a journal covering the cards used and affirmations created, along with comments on the results.
He also suggests using the affirmations in this book to give an added dimension to your Tarot readings. With problematic cards, look up the affirmations that he suggests to help you get through the situation. Or use the affirmation from a positive card to help reinforce that message. The focus in this book is on affirmations that are practical, attainable, an actionable. He also very sensibly notes that affirmations are not a panacea – if you have serious issues that are not resolving themselves, then you need to consider appropriate professional help.
Each card presentation is accompanied by a black and white scan from the “Tarot of the Masters”. James talks about the energy of each card, and the types of affirmations that might be applicable. He also discusses where the inspiration for the “Tarot of the Masters” card came from, which is valuable in creating your own affirmations.
From the book:
“IX The Hermit
The Hermit can depict someone who is searching for a deeper understanding of his soulful purpose in life. His spiritual path (as opposed to that of the High Priest) is an unorthodox one, and a uniquely individual one. Also, the Hermit may be urging us to seek solitude in order to find our calm, spiritual center, which will facilitate our own quest for enlightenment. These observations imply the following affirmations:
I value my quest for meaning and purpose in life.
I find the answers that I need within the calm, spiritual center of my being.
The quiet time I choose to spend alone nourishes my soul.”
Note: The above quote is only part of the presentation on The Hermit.
At the end of the book is an appendix of affirmations by type (Specific Problems or Situations, General Self-improvement, Spiritual Development), and a Bibliography & References page.
I found this book to be well thought out, well written, easy to follow and easy to use. At one point in the book James talks about taking the energy from a reading and creating an affirmation from that. This is a wonderful gift to self, if you are reading for yourself, and a unique “Added Value” for a reading that you are doing for a client (and you can include them in the process!).
James also has a weekly card affirmation on his website.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.