Mirrors of the Heart: A Deck of Favorable Cards by Lily S. May
Review by Valerie Antal

Mirrors of the Heart: A Deck of Favorable Cards by Lily S.May is a 43-card non-tarot deck created from prints of her linocut art. Rolling ink onto carved linoleum and making a transfer print by rubbing the paper against the lino block, she was able to form distinctive card images for meditation and divination.  The cards are printed on thin beige cardstock that reminds me of parchment or pale wood. The illustrations, rendered in black, are simple representations of archetypal images of humans and animals within the natural world.     

My favorite cards in Mirrors of the Heart depict animals, which are at times undefined. Ms. Mayís reliefs show animals that seem to shift from domestic to feral, dependent upon the perspective of the viewer. In Wholeness, a person is seated beneath the canopy of the World tree hung with ripening fruit. The Sun and the Moon inhabit the sky simultaneously, conveying balance. A rainbow connects two great branches and the roots stretch beneath both human and animals, resting at opposite sides of the trunk. I have at times perceived the canine as a dog and also as a wolf totem. The entire image is encapsulated in a circle like an egg showing the continual interconnectedness of life. 

In Companions, a figure reposes upon the back of a large seagull, which rests upon a whale, whose tale upholds a crescent Moon cradling the Sun. The whale bears a gentle expression as she floats within the lull of the tide next to a dark sea bird. There is a sweetness to this card which suggests both the unity of the Self within nature, but also the value and constancy of friendship.

Movement shows a goat playfully running over the grassy landscape. Traveling quickly, the goat seems to rove without the burden of gravity, with a lightness to symbolize the journey towards completion. 

Images of hands appear throughout Mirrors of the Heart. In Peace, the palm lines of a hand are replaced with the image of the Earth and a rainbow arcs across the top of the card. The picture conveys both a sense of hopefulness and responsibility. Touch shows an animal, perhaps a sleeping cat or a fox, curled into a circle of comfort within a palm. Streaming from the fingertips are lines of energy, which seem alternately like a path of fire or the course of water. Touch offers the possibility of greater union between humans and animals if we attempt to learn from their instinctual nature and act as respectful guardians. 

Mirrors of the Heart places figures within the context of ancient stone structures. In Stillness, a Goddess or woman is seen through the center of a holey stone. Seated in lotus position, her full body is reminiscent of a fertility Goddess, with rounded breasts and belly showing her power as fecund creatrix of worldly bounty. I am reminded of the tradition of passing a child through a holey stone as a form of sanctity and renewal, but the card also makes me consider the strength derived from quiet meditation. In Steadfastness (at top), a great stone dolmen supports the back of a figure leaning in reflection. Here the feeling of universal and unending time persists as a foundation for spiritual evolvement. I did not feel the same sense of ease while viewing the Trust card. The figure reminded me of a ghostly Nile Goddess arising before the shape of a tombstone. My friend thought the image was a cactus painted on a roadside boulder. Perhaps Trust is supposed to represent a shadow Self or a shadow cactus. I flip quickly past this card while viewing the other more realized archetypal images.

Each card has a one-word meditation to evoke the feeling embodied within the imagery. Although I typically do not like the artistís intended meaning to be written on cards, I found Ms. Mayís choices to be inspiring rather than limiting: Awakening, Balance, Celebration, Cleansing, Companions, Courage, Creativity, Dreams, Earth, Freedom, Grace, Gentleness, Growth, Healthfulness, Help, Home, Hope, Humility, Joie de Vivre, Kindness, Light, Love, Movement, Music, Night, Nourishment, Openness, Peace, Quiet, Remembrance, Respect, Sanctuary, Sexuality, Sight, Steadfastness, Stillness, Strength, Touch, Trust, Truthfulness, Uniqueness, Voice, Wholeness.

The cards are housed in an oversized cardboard box with white tissue to keep the deck from jostling during shipping. The box is an attractive shade of deep blue similar to the evening sky with a duplicate title card centered on the lid. I do wish the box were closer in width to the size of the deck as about two-thirds of the box remains unused. I would recommend wrapping the cards in a silk cloth for pleasure and safe storage. The card backs are unillustrated. The images are printed on thin, unlaminated cardstock with square corners. For professional use, I would recommend laminating the cards, but the cardstock could certainly withstand careful shuffling. Mirrors of the Heart has the quality and charm of a self-published deck and when I consider the investment of time, energy, and devotion that went into the creation of the cards, I feel a greater appreciation for the artful simplicity of the images.

Although the Mirrors of the Heart does not come with an instruction booklet, Ms. May includes an idea sheet of how the cards could be implemented. Aside from reading and meditation, she suggests letting the cards act as a muse for writing journal entries, poetry, and short stories. As an artist, she even mentions framing the cards that offer the truest connection. Despite being too much of a purist to recommend framing divinatory cards, I would certainly value the presence of these cards on an altar or meditation setting. I truly do not feel any loss for the booklet, as Ms. May was able to communicate her ideas through the linocut medium, allowing the reader the opportunity for her own thoughts and reflection.

I would recommend Mirrors of the Heart as a gift for a person who admires the process of Tarot, but feels daunted by reading with a 78-card deck. An experienced reader would also find serenity in gazing at the images. I believe Mirrors of the Heart could be useful in communicating spiritual concepts with children, as the pictures lend themselves easily to open discussion and individual interpretation. This deck would be a lovely thought for someone who finds comfort in meditation, is looking for a source of inspiration for creative projects, or is seeking a sense of deeper attunement and balance in their spiritual practice.      

Self-published in 1993, Mirrors of the Heart can be purchased through Lily S. Mayís website and through her ebay auctions. Mirrors of the Heart is priced at $22 with 10% of each sale donated to The Stephen Lewis Foundation, which works to ease the pain of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

You can read another view of this deck here.

Valerie Antal is a writer and Tarot Reader living in Philadelphia, PA. She offers traditional Tarot readings, Goddess Meditation and Celtic Animal Readings via telephone, e-mail, and in person. She is currently working on a book of meditations to the Goddess based on the Celtic Wheel of the Year. For more information about her Tarot practice, please visit her site.

Images © 1993 Lily May
Review © 2004 Valerie Antal
Page © 2004 Diane Wilkes