I picked up a new pack of oracle cards while I was at Barnes & Noble last week. Getting a new pack of cards is always a role of the dice because sometimes these cards resonate and work really well with me and other times they don’t at all. In the past I would usually pick them out based on aesthetic. There are some really gorgeous decks out there and that just always seemed like a reasonable way to pick them out. However art has a way of getting to us subconsciously. Colors, shapes, imagery, archetypes, themes— though there may be certain understandings about anything which artists might use to create these decks (for instance what is masculine, feminine, warm, cold, etc) they all still tend to feel a little bit differently to each of us due to whatever personal meanings they might have also. I’ve tried using decks which to me are really beautiful; but then either something I see in the artwork or read in the guidebook (another post for another time) will just sort of make me go “eh”… so then I don’t end up using them very often.
Though I have a few decks already, I haven’t used them in a while either because they ended up not really appealing to me as much as I thought they would, or they’re a little more complicated (such as tarot) and they take a lot of time to learn.
Since my mom passed away I’ve been feeling really disconnected, disoriented and not especially up for any in-depth work with imagery, themes or suits. However since I’m not really a stranger to cards, for me they’re an obvious step in both the psychological and spiritual processing (for me those go very much hand in hand) of the loss of my mom.
I knew I wanted something simple and straightforward for this, so I
decided to go with “The Soul’s Journey” deck by James Van Praagh. It’s a 44 card deck which features mandala’s and what the author calls a “soul lesson” on each card. Underneath each soul lesson there is also an affirmation:
After I got the deck home I cleansed and consecrated the cards. Cards in and of themselves are nothing of course; just images on glossy paper which has been mass-produced and sold in retail stores like Barnes & Noble. For me, there’s really not much I can get from them until I do a little bit of energy work. They’re stagnant as is right out of the box and it takes a little while to create a flow or vibe between myself and the cards.
Some of these decks will come with suggestions for how to cleanse and consecrate and others don’t. Really it’s just a matter of doing your own thing to create a connection. This deck advises to remove the plastic from the cards then hold them in your non dominant hand (that being the hand that receives energy according to some energy workers) and say a prayer or affirmation over the deck as you hold it. The booklet comes with a sample prayer but I’ll very rarely use a prayer written by someone else when I work with cards. It’s not because I don’t think the their prayers are good or well written— it’s just that I think if what is trying to be achieved is an energetic connection, the more work you put into establishing that (via your own words, prayers, thoughts and so forth) the better.
The author’s advice about the non-dominant hand being more of an absorber of energy worked for me at the time, so I added that bit into the process. I guess if you think about it we use our dominant hand for writing which is a kind of outward flow and transference of energy from to mind, to hand, to pen, to paper. Even though both hands transfer and receive energy, the idea that the opposite is more suited for absorption clicked for me at the time. I tend to go with my gut when I work with cards and that day I had to consider the fact that I was trying to work this all out while feeling weary and sapped of energy. It’s like I’ve been on power save mode since losing mom and it takes all of the fortitude I have to simply get through the day and function normally while I’m at work and around other people. It’s getting a little easier with each day that goes by but for the most part, exhaustion seems to be how I’m processing this grief. The day of this reading I felt physically worn down and not especially interested in what I was doing at first even though for some reason, I wanted to. At this point in the cleansing process everything still felt mechanical; like I was going through the motions of this thing I used to do a lot but not really caring about it at all. That being the case the author’s suggestion that my right hand (my non-dominant hand) was primed to receive a cleansing affirmation was helpful so I went with it.
Next the author advises that all that needs to be done to consecrate the cards (infuse them with your own energy) is to simply flip through the edges of the cards, shuffle, say another prayer to set your intentions for the reading and proceed from there. What I did instead was lay all 44 cards out in front of me at once, read each one to myself, consider the mandala art briefly before placing my hand, palm down, over the card. This was a longer process compared to what the author suggested, but I like to see the whole deck out in front of me before I get started, read any words that are printed on the cards and see all of the artwork at once. After that I shuffle them all up until it feels right to lay the cards out.
Anyone can make up their own spread with Tarot or oracle cards if they want to (a spread is the order in how you lay out the cards and the meaning of each placement) but that day I used two which were suggested by the author. After that I put the book away and resolved to be on my own from there. I learned this lesson a few years ago with another deck (The Wildwood Tarot), and how the writers’ perceptions and attitude about the artwork can sometimes ruin a deck which is otherwise resonating and beautiful. A lot of the time the author of the booklet is also the artist of the cards. Whenever that’s the case it’s difficult for me to separate their applied meanings from my own interpretations— so for me it’s just better to work with them and invest time and thought into analyzing them for myself and leave the authors interpretations out of it.
I chose to use two spreads in conjunction with each other. First was the three card spread:
Card one “represents a lesson that has already been made evident but may not have been embraced or learned. This card… signified the essence of the query, and progress cannot be made unless this lesson has been addressed and dealt with.”
Card 2 “represents the energy that is currently present. This card is significant because if you’re not prepared for this lesson, it could prove to be a stumbling block impeding your progress.”
Card 3 “suggests what long-range lesson is to be learned… It may relate to the situation at hand, or it could be an ultimate life lesson of which the situation is just a piece of the puzzle.”
I laid out my cards and they read as such:
I took a picture of the cards so that I wouldn’t forget them and shuffled them up again. As I did Pete came into the room and we chatted for a couple of minutes. I explained to him what I was doing and as he does, he sat down next to me and he listened. He kissed me on the cheek then went back out into the livingroom. I shuffled and shuffled and wondered about the three card spread and my initial feelings about the lessons contained therein. I completely bristled at the first card, abundance. Mainly I think because I wasn’t feeling abundant in anything at all that night. I was preoccupied with the recent loss of my mother and the desperation I felt for some kind of solace from the situation; a sign from her, a dream about her or even some inkling that I would feel her presence at some point. Other family members had mentioned noticed traces of her after her passing; dreams, wisps of feelings, signs. I hadn’t at that point and I haven’t still. I felt a twinge of bitterness and even silliness that part of the reason why I got the deck in the first place was hoping that she would chime in at some point during a reading. I’ve heard of people using cards for ancestor work and contact with the spirits, but I personally have never been sure of what I really believe as far as all of that or what my earthly capabilities actually even are in that arena. That being the case, self-analysis and art analysis is the extent of my own practice in divination. Still, I think a part of me hoped that spiritual contact through the cards could feel true for me, even if only for only a second. As I shuffled and shuffled at some point I spoke out into the empty air and said “mom”. The word fell hallow from my lips and nothing at all stirred within me which felt like a sign or a presence or even a simple thought. I didn’t feel like I could really call on her or ask her for anything at all.
One of my family members says that she talks to mom since she passed and that it makes her feel better because she feels as though she is listening… but I simply can’t feel that way even though I’ve tried. When I say her name or try to talk to her (cards in hand or not) I don’t feel like she is there. I haven’t the slightest inkling that she is around somewhere, watching out for me, waiting for my call or guiding me. It feels only like she can’t anymore. It feels like she is gone.
After saying her name once and feeling only apathy, I let the idea of reaching her go completely. If mom is out there in the cosmos or Heaven or a spiritual plane or wherever it is she might be, then she’s on her own journey and at this point it doesn’t include me. If there is a sign waiting for me then that wasn’t my time to receive it. Like everything else I had to follow my gut on this and let the idea go. I was on my own in the reading.
The card abundance irked me to no end for all the loss and emptiness I felt in that moment— that I had been feeling consistently for three weeks straight and still feel even now. The bright red hue and the affirmation (I am a limitless being, and I can manifest whatever I desire in this physical reality) felt so completely out-of-place with where I was spiritually and emotionally that it felt almost like a cosmic slap in the face. But then I considered the abundance I felt in my life before mom died and it made sense as a lesson which had been presented before so I decided to continue on with the reading and give it a chance.
I reflected similarly on card 2, relationships as well as card 3, perseverance and scribbled some thoughts down about the soul lessons in my journal later that night; after the reading was through.
I shuffled the cards and prepared myself for the following seven card spread. I went about this for a while and just sort of zoned until a card slipped out from the deck. Going with my gut I used the fallen card as the first of the seven card spread and laid them all out from the top of the deck from there.
In the seven card spread the first three cards (bottom row) represent energies which are currently at play in life. The fourth card (middle) represents a transition and/or obstacle between the present and the future, while the top three cards represent energies which will be at play after. It doesn’t get much more specific than that in the guidebook so needless to say, I’ve got my journaling cut out for me as I work through this reading.
I don’t know where your beliefs lie or what opinions you might have about this kind of thing… I myself am never 100% confident in making up my mind about what is true and what isn’t. I think what it boils down to is what is true for each of us and what we chose to make of it. Either way I’m just a 30 year old woman with a deck of cards trying to make sense of the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. For all I know mom was with me all a long and she knocked perseverance right out of the deck as I shuffled.
“This one Lissie,” maybe she said.
Maybe it was just me and the powers that be— God, Source, Spirit, whatever— on August 25th. Or maybe it’s all just a silly coincidence and it was just me, sitting in my room feeling lost and desperate for answers about things which are completely out of my hands and always have been. Who am I to say? I can’t really rule out any of it and I don’t care to. All I really know is that I have just experienced the most profound loss of my life so far and the cards I laid out read as such:
Perseverance, Growth, Death, Abundance, Relationships, Self-Esteem, Blame
Though some of these read as pretty obvious, I think I would have found meaning in any of the cards that I might have laid out that day. The ultimate giver of lessons in any daughters’ life is always the mother. I didn’t consciously think about it that way when I bought this deck— all I figured as I walked aimlessly around B&N is that I wanted something simple for my tired mind to work with. Now that I have worked with these cards, I know that nothing else I could have picked out that day would have better suited the task of processing the loss of her. From August 25th forward “The Soul’s Journey” its always going to be Mom’s deck and for me, that’s just how it is.