Tarot for the Healing Heart: Using Inner Wisdom to Heal Body and Mind by Christine Jette                                     
Review by Diane Wilkes

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As someone who lives with a chronic illness, I was pleased and encouraged to find a book that provided a game plan for using tarot to assist in the healing process.  I was even more pleased and encouraged to discover that it was written by Christine Jette, whose first book, Tarot Shadow Work, impressed me so deeply. 

Now is usually the time the reviewer will state her shock and disappointment that the book fails to live up to her admittedly-high expectations.  But I will pull the equivalent of the Hanged Man and say Tarot for the Healing Heart actually exceeds my lofty expectations.

My one minor criticism of Tarot Shadow Work is that it doesn't have many spread selections to use and explore.  Tarot for the Healing Heart has scads of spreads and meditations that span from working with specific cards, such as Temperance and the four Aces, to examining issues about death, disease, and healing through simple, but deeply insightful, spreads. 

But in my excitement, I'm getting ahead of myself.  Perhaps you're thinking, "I feel great--what do I need with that book?" (You just read the new Pat Croce book and simply radiate good health--damn you!)   In all seriousness, I have two responses.  One is that I have yet to meet someone who didn't grow up in a dysfunctional family or doesn't require emotional healing at some point.  The second is that I have found that many people who use the tarot or are interested in other "new age" subjects often have illness issues.  Does the expression "wounded healer" ring a bell? 

Jette addresses the issue of the "wounded healer" with eloquence and honesty, expressing that, "In our sincere, but often misguided, efforts to be of service, we rush headlong into healing others before we ourselves are healed.  We evolve as healers when we participate in our own healing (emphasis: hers) first through attunement to our inner wisdom."  Guilty as charged.

But I don't feel guilty, because Jette's approach is so gentle and scrupulously non-judgmental.  She takes great pains (unintentional pun) to avoid blaming the ill party, even as she repeatedly reminds the reader that healing starts within ourselves and is something over which we have some control.  

Before Jette settled into writing full-time, she was a Registered Nurse for over 20 years, which means that this book does not disdain western medicine.  The author repeatedly urges the reader to consult a physician if certain medical conditions exist, and is quite specific in detailing conditions that would require a doctor's care.  At the same time, Jette does write knowledgably and favorably about alternative medical options.

The book is divided into four parts.  The first section is entitled "What Everybody Knows" and includes information about meditation, journalling, dreamwork, centering, affirmations, healing guides, and other "tools of healing."  The second part, "Lion Heart," addresses self-love, information about dis-ease, seeing our blockages as "wounds, not defects", and many spreads and meditations geared to self-understanding and getting to the roots of your individual illness issues.  In this section, Jette approaches fears about death and dying directly, even offering a meditation with the Death card and the "Good Grief Spread," which illuminates the ways we personally perceive loss.

Part Three, entitled "Heart and Soul," focuses on healing, and includes a meditation on the Temperance card and a way to access your healer within, along with several spreads.  Jette also provides a great list of ways to engage in "sacred play" with the cards; my favorite: "gently pile tarot cards face-down on your favorite sleeping pet or best-loved human.  When your pet or human wakes up or moves, read any cards that have fallen face up.  These cards will give you clues about your relationship with your loved one for the day."  I've been eagerly planning to try this one with my cat, as I don't think my husband would find it sacred nor play.

The majority of Part Four, "Whole New World", is a guide to interpreting all 78 tarot cards from the perspective of healing.  This section breaks down into the following headings: Life Lessons, Life Wisdom, Actions to Support the Healing Process, and Contacting Your Inner Wisdom.  I think that this section alone is worth the price of the book--it offers some new perspectives that I personally found frighteningly insightful. 

One thing I really liked about the book was that the author provided several spreads on the actual illness or health concern.  It would have been easy to offer one or two quickie spreads and then dash quickly into the rosier, more pleasant subject of healing.  Then again, Jette was a nurse for many years--experience must have taught her not to shy away from the difficult, dark areas, as ignoring or glossing over them costs lives.   

The only flaw I found with the book is that several times the author addresses the reader with the assumption that she is female.  On page 12, Jette writes, "As women, we take care of everyone but ourselves."  In Chapter Three, she prefaces a lovely exercise with a section on how society imposes the model-thin figure as as the ideal, and how damaging this is to women.  If I were an obese guy reading this book, I'd feel rather slighted.  While more women do seem to use the tarot, it seems uncharacteristically insensitive of Jette to alienate men who might otherwise find this book life-enhancing.  I hope in future editions this one flaw is eliminated.

As a woman with chronic health problems, though, I feel as though this book is a treasure map that can lead me to greater physical health, if I choose to follow it with patience and self-love.  I couldn't ask for more of any book.

Excerpt:

Five of Cups
Conflict, struggle on the emotional plane

Life Lessons (imbalance/dis-ease): Disappointment on the verge of despair; focusing on loss rather than what is left; staying stuck in regret; wallowing in sorrow.

Life Wisdom (balanced energy/healing): Choosing to focus on what is left after loss; seeing that all is not lost; looking within for emotional stability when situations appear to be hopeless.

Actions to support the healing process: Focusing on what might have been will cause dis-ease and leave you victimized, with a sense of powerlessness.  For healing to begin, choose to focus on what you have, rather than what you've lost.  By doing so you regain your power to heal.

The cause of your dis-ease is primarily emotional.  Emotional struggle indicates a counselor or therapist can help you sort through difficult feelings, especially a grief counselor.  Letting go of past sorrow is your goal in treatment.  Read all you can about grieving and grief work.  If it's fitting to your spiritual beliefs, study the Crone aspect of the Goddess--She can teach you how to let go.

Contacting your inner wisdom: Is there a situation that needs to be released in love?  What new avenues of self-expression will bring me joy?

Tarot for the Healing Heart: Using Inner Wisdom to Heal Body and Mind
Author: Christine Jette
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
ISBN#: 0738700436

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Review and page 2001 Diane Wilkes
Text 2001 Llewellyn Publishing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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