Review by Bonnie Cehovet
Over the years, I have worked with affirmations and the Tarot in many different ways. In researching material for a talk that I was giving on that subject I came across the "Tarot Affirmations" deck. I was impressed with the quality of the work that I saw, and ordered the deck. In the way of the world, obstacles popped up: I had ordered the deck from the author, who, in the midst of a move, did not receive the order. Dr. Hill is a very gracious person, was wonderful to deal with, and I now have the deck in my very own hands.
It is an out-size deck - approximately 3 3/4" by 5 1/2", done on glossy, coated, high quality card stock that will hold up well under handling. The box itself is approximately 7" by 8 3/4", made of sturdy cardboard the cover depicting the Three of Cups, and the back depicting the Four of Wands and the Knight of Cups. Inside a space has been created in the center of the box to hold the cards and the accompanying pamphlet.
There are 80 cards in this deck, with one of the extra cards carrying deck attribution information (with three full moons residing under the title), and the second extra card (with three crescent moons residing under the title) listing four ways in which this deck may be used (with a traditional spread, or as a card-a-day draw; choosing one (or more) affirmations that appeal to you to work with; repeating each affirmation out loud several times, and continuing to repeat it to yourself during the course of the day; making the affirmations your own by writing your own, making sure to write them in a positive form).
The backs of the cards are a pale blue, with the back to back images of a winged Angel, blowing a trumpet, coming from a cloud. In this manner, it is not possible to tell if a card has been drawn in the upright or reversed position. The face of the card is color coded, with pale violet for the Major Arcana, pale lavender for the suit of Wands, pale green for the suit of Cups, pale beige for the suit of Swords, and pale gray for the suit of Coins.
The Major Arcana show the title at the top of the card, on the left hand side, with its number, in Roman Numerals, under it. Beneath the card number is a scan of the card, approximately 1 1/4" by 2 1/4". To the right of this are five positive affirmations, written in black script. The numbered cards show the number and suit, in text, at the top left hand side of the page, with the scan beneath it. The Court cards show the title and suit, in text, at the top left hand side of the page, with the scan beneath it. Both numbered cards and court cards show five affirmations, in black script, to the right of the scan.
Example affirmations from the Hermit:
"I am introspective, the beginning of a solitary journey to explore unknown parts of self.
I am engaged in a search for meaning and purpose in life and daily activity.
I have the courage to journey along unfamiliar paths to discover my inner voice and vision.
I reorganize my life to free myself from distractions and create space for inward reflection.
I draw upon my enlightened experience to help others with their search for meaning."
The pamphlet, at eleven pages, is rather small. It does not present any keywords for any of the cards, but the personal history of the deck, background information on the Tarot, and what it can offer us, and some insight into the blending of the Tarot with affirmations. Different uses for this deck are given, such as using it on a card-a-day basis, expanding the readings to three cards for a weekly or monthly reading, and doing an expanded Tarot reading on a seasonal basis - such as holidays, birthdays, and the beginning of a new season, or a new year. A sample spread for a three card reading is given, using the definitions of (1) the direction you are currently moving, (2) attitudes and thinking that will support your current direction, and (3) behavior and the environment. The spread presented for the expanded reading is the traditional ten card Celtic Cross spread.
The birthing of "Tarot Affirmations" came about when Dr. Hill was going through a difficult period during her graduate studies in psychology. Feeling a lack of personal energy, and disassociated from the vision that sent her back to school, Dr. Hill began drawing a three-card Tarot spread each morning as a way to anchor her day, using Angeles Arrien's "The Tarot Handbook" to help her interpret them. One of the greatest gifts that she came away with was that there is a positive message to each of the cards. This evolved into writing an affirmation on an index card, and carrying it around with her each day. The cornerstone of Dr. Hill's work with this deck is to promote positive growth and change.
There is no companion book to this deck, but there is a well done site that supports it at Tarot Affirmations). Here you will find articles by Dr. Hill on affirmations, and the most effective way in which to use them; on the Tarot - techniques for interpreting the cards, and using them in a transformational manner; and on dreams. Sample cards are presented, as well as an online oracle.
At first consideration, many people might not see the use in this deck. After all, the whole idea is to come up with your own personal affirmations, right? Dr. Hill does encourage developing your own affirmations, as well as working with the ones already on the cards. The process needs to be tailored to the individual - they need to make it their own. What I see here is a place to begin, to develop ones own understanding of what an affirmation can be. Any one of the 78 cards of the Tarot can act as a Shadow, or a difficult card for any given individual. Using this deck, each of us can have the "Aha!" experience of seeing something positive in cards that we secretly (or not so secretly) pray that we will never draw.
This deck can be used on an individual basis, for basic Tarot reading or for specific work with affirmations, it can be used in a group setting, used in developing a mandala, used in ritual and/or ceremonial work, or simply left out as a reminder throughout the day of whatever you want to focus on. The manner in which this deck is presented also allows it to be used in traditional Tarot settings, as well as with individuals or groups who have no Tarot background, but who want to work on positive growth and change.
© May 2006
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.