Wisdom in the Cards
The companion book to the lovely Hudes Tarot, which offers insight into the card images and their subtler meanings.
By Leah Samul · Book · Published by US Games
Review by Sandra A. Thomson
I first met Leah Samul at one of Mary K. Greer's summer workshops. Leah had just finished her manuscript to accompany the Hudes deck, and those of us in the workshop were privileged to hear parts of it and to work with Leah and the Hudes deck. Now U. S. Games has published a shorter version of the manuscript, which can be purchased separately (for those who already own a Hudes deck) or as a mini book-deck set.
As you may know, Susan Hudes combined water color drawings with backgrounds of antique maps, constellation charts, and marbled paper to create a vividly beautiful deck of collage paintings. In glancing at a card, it is easy to think of these backgrounds as being pretty or interesting but having little consequence. This is, however, one of the areas where Samul's book shines. She points you toward considering the symbolism of the backgrounds. For instance, she reminds us that the blueprint in the background of The Magician card shows that he has an interest in learning and that he is a problem solver and an inventor. The gown of The High Priestess is made up of pages from manuscripts, and Samul tells us that the script in her dress "symbolizes the wisdom of inner knowing, contained in her heart."
Throughout her book, Samul points out little things in the cards that, while we might not have missed them, we also might not have given them enough credence, i.e., the charioteer's cape flows off to his right in this deck, "suggesting that he's come around a bend, which is an indication of a recent change of course."
We are also privileged to share the personal insights Samul has gained in her 20 some years of working with the Tarot, which apply to all decks, not just the Hudes. She tells us that the reason The Lovers card takes place outside is that "love is too large to be contained by man-made structures or by national borders." Or that lightning in The Tower card serves to illuminate the situation and give us a true picture. We know by her comments throughout the book that this is a woman who has spent plenty of time working on her own inner development and using the Tarot as one of her instruments.
One of my favorite scenes from the Hudes deck shows the Temperance angel looking at her reflection (or is it her unconscious self?) in a fountain into which she pours a chalice of water. To me it raises the question of how we view and fulfill ourselves. Samul suggests that the angel is examining her reflection to ascertain what part of her needs restoration.
Samul wrote her manuscript as part of her healing process in recovering from ovarian and uterine cancer, and she includes prayers and affirmations for each card, some developed during her own healing. They give you a way to work more in depth with a personal problem card, or if you draw a daily card to keep its message alive during the day-whether or not you are using the Hudes deck for your readings. Samul, who defines the suit of Wands as dealing with communication, business, and entrepreneurial activity, interprets the Nine of Wands, for instance, as calling upon us to consider how guarded we are in our own communication of ideas, and what we are holding back (the wands behind the figure). The accompanying affirmation says, "I use discretion when I speak. I know the value of caution in communication."
I drew a card from the Hudes deck to tell me what more I needed to know about the functional use of Samul's book. The card I drew was the Knight of Pentacles. And this is the message I received from the deck and from Leah: The Knight of Pentacles is a card of transformation; he brings explosive energy that will have a deeply layered effect. I take this to mean that I have much much more to learn from working with the Hudes deck and with Leah's book and it will be learning that will influence my life in complex ways. Thank you, Leah, for your insights.