for Positive Growth and Change by Sally Hill
Review by Diane Wilkes
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
I didn't obtain this deck for a long time, because it is my opinion that the best affirmations, tarot-oriented or not, are the ones we create for ourselves, using our own words. So I was in no rush to get yet another version of the Universal Rider-Waite-Smith, this one "desecrated" by words that could only interfere with my personal meditations. Tarot Affirmations seemed like it would have its uses for beginners and self-help types, but wouldn't have much to offer an experienced reader.
Several months ago, a friend of mine was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and I was shattered. I asked a few tarot buddies who were experts on sending healing energy to direct some her way, and one of those buddies did a reading for my friend using the Tarot Affirmations deck. I was blown away by the aptness of some of the affirmations. They were words of wisdom that would not have occurred to me, and I passed them on with gratitude and a new-found respect for this once-derided deck.*
Having recently acquired Tarot Affirmations, I still have some of my initial feelings towards the set. Its target audience is not tarot journeymen (and women)--it is as non-occult a deck as you could find, with the possible exception of the Hello Kitty deck. Everything about the deck is designed to lull the purchaser into thinking "mainstream media." Deck size is similar to extra-large index cards (approximately three and three-quarter inches by five and a half inches). The cards are color-coded: Majors are tinted a gentle lavender, Wands are pink, Cups, powder blue, Swords a soft yellow, and Coins are light grey. And note that Pentacles have been renamed Coins, to further simplify and demystify the Tarot. Even the card images are diminished in size so as to emphasize that the positive affirmations have the leading role in this set. The backs feature two images of the blonde-tressed Angel Gabriel tootling a horn amongst the clouds, in a design that allows for reversals...not that such a thing would be relevant with this deck. Let's face it--Tarot Affirmations is a set in which only Jerry Falwell could find something dark and/or menacing.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. As I peruse the affirmations, I have some other concerns. Our minds don't hear the word "not" or negations, so in order to program ourselves with positivity, effective affirmations only use...affirmatives (that's what "affirmations" are derived from). Hill occasionally includes an affirmation that ignores that rule, i.e, "I have learned to cut through negative thoughts, attitudes and beliefs that obscure my creative view and expression." for the Knight of Swords. The mind hears "negative thoughts..." and "obscure". Ironically, in the few instructions that come with this deck, we are counseled to individualize the affirmations and "take care to always write them in a positive form."
More disturbing is that the phrasing of these affirmations is often awkward or unconvincing, such as The Moon's "I am inspiration; my reflection reveals, renews, and opens pathways of creative energy." Hill has devised the card statements by focusing on various interpretations of the cards and rephrasing said interpretations into affirmations. On the positive side, one of them is bound to be applicable in some way. However, it also means that the likelihood of them all being relevant to any given situation is miniscule.
These concerns forced me to really ponder what this deck had to offer me on a day-to-day basis, especially since the decks I use the most aren't RWS-clones. My ponderings led to the following experiment: using one card each from three very different (but frequently-used) decks, I explored three questions. I then looked at the same cards in the Affirmations deck to see if I could find words to motivate and/or inspire me. I found that Hill's cards offered a nuance or approach that I had overlooked in every single case. In fact, I was really impressed with the possibilities offered for "growth and change" that using this deck could engender. For real-depth readings, our own take is always going to provide the greatest empowerment, but using this deck as an addition, as opposed to a replacement, is something I recommend to any tarotist in the process of self-work.
And I may just buy this deck for my friend with Leukemia, as Tarot Affirmations is also perfect for its target audience. The deck comes with a short guide for "Reading the Cards", which offers methods to best imprint the affirmations into your life, as well as a booklet that gives some basic information about the tarot, as well as a "Seasonal or Annual Use of Tarot Affirmations" spread, based on the Celtic Cross layout, which is also provided. There is also a brief tarot bibliography.
*For the curious: the three cards were the Emperor, the Two of Cups, and the Seven of Swords, and the selected affirmations were as follows:
The Emperor: "I order and structure my life to create a
stable base for my activities"
"I define limits and establish boundaries for myself and for my world to smooth my
relationships and protect my inner authority"
Two of Cups:
"I forge strong partnerships through
communication, cooperation, compromise, and
"I value the high levels of intimacy made possible by honest communication between
people who are open with their feelings"
Seven of Swords: "I am seeking a solution to a threat
that appears to be beyond my control"
"I am determined to overcome threats to my personal development"
"I am open to alternative ways to confront problems openly in ways that support my
See below for a legible sample card:
Tarot Affirmations for Positive Growth and Change; Text by Sally Hill;
Illustrations by Pamela Colman Smith; Recolored by Mary Hanson-Roberts
Publisher: US Games
If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.
Cards © 2001 US Games
Review and page © 2002 Diane Wilkes