The Philosopher's Stone Self-Awareness Deck is more commonly used for self-awareness. Each card depicts rocks, some with faces and some in groups. Card names are printed in three different languages.
This deck consists of 40 square cards, each depicting a painting by artist De Es Schwertberger, along with a particular quality or condition. Schwertberger's preferred subjects seem to consist entirely of stones with human faces, stone figures, and stones over plain backgrounds. The artist seems to have applied an enormous talent to an extremely narrow subject matter.
Many of the associations seem arbitrary - number 8, "Composure," is a profile of a stone-face, with an irregular stone conglomeration directly in front of it. Forcing an association, it suggests composure in the face of a threat. Other cards are completely obvious - number 6, "Confrontation," is similar except the stone confronting the face is smooth. The next card, "Breakthrough," is identical except for a fissure running through the stone. Number 12, "Hazard," shows a stone approaching an unsuspecting stone-head from the rear; the following card, "Return," has the stone hitting the head and apparently knocking it out. Inevitably, the viewer attempts to "solve" the cards by mentally proposing connections between the words and images.
The instructions or "Rules of the Game" involve taking five cards at random, and arranging them in a cross, with positions of "inner" and "outer" world, "past," and "future." These invite comparisons and contrasts. Lower numbers are "weak," while higher numbers are "strong," suggesting that the reader "observe where your strengths and weaknesses lie." Like a Tarot deck, each card also has other associations that are listed, for example, number 15, "Insight," indicates "depth, study, intuition, vision." The reader is encouraged to come up with their own ways of using the cards.
Physically, the cards are beautifully printed, on stock of excellent quality, with just the right amount of coating to facilitate shuffling without being too slippery, but with no hint of grittiness. They come in a fitted plastic case that offers protection and easy accessibility. It's as well-done as the best Tarot decks. The images, however, unlike those of the Tarot, are suggestive but not iconic.
At best, it's a brief, thought-provoking diversion,
with none of the historical force and archtypal
suggestivity of the Tarot. It is, however, unique, and worth
owning as part of a collection.
This deck comes without instructions, so, if you're quite intuitive, you can connect these cards in a reading, just like Tarot Cards. Various layouts can cover pretty much everything, the same as with Tarot cards. My favourite layout with these lovely and weird stone pictures is the Mandala Spread, 9 cards. That covers everything from ambitions and goals to ideals and dreams. It also tells you why and how someone has attracted a problem and suggests the necessary changes to remove obstacles from ones' life.
This is definitely my favourite deck and it will work for people who trust their intuition and don't need the visual guidance of conventional Tarot cards, but who still like something to concentrate on during a reading. These cards are ideal for absent readings, they have worked every time for me, as I've found out through feedback. I'm someone who prefers not to know the enquirer, or their problems, then I have no pre-conceptions.
You can dig very deep with these images, it's almost like looking into a persons' soul. I found them easy to read from the beginning, except for one card that had me stumped, no. 33 (Origin). So I emailed DeEs and he answered it for me.
This is not a deck to read if someone
wants to know where they'll be going
on holiday next or
where they'll meet their next boyfriend. It's
to help by pointing out key factors in one's
personality and explaining
how to successfully move on with a
positive attitude and to know whether
you're on the right
or wrong life path.