Wisdom in the Cards by Leah Samul (Hudes Tarot Companion Book)
Review by Michele Jackson

When the Hudes Tarot deck was originally published, there was no accompanying book, just the little white booklet that came with the deck. Although you wouldn’t know it from the title, Wisdom in the Cards was written for the Hudes deck. The story of how the book came into being is both interesting and inspiring. Without spoiling it too much, a user of the deck felt such a strong connection with the deck that she wrote the book and got it published by US Games. No small feat. 

The book starts with a preface. Here Samul provides some personal history and information on how the book came to be. As previously stated, I found her story interesting and inspiring. This is followed by an Introduction, which contains basic information on the tarot – descriptions of various components that make up the deck and a small amount of background/historical information. Next comes a section titled “Reading the Cards” that describes the Celtic Cross Spread and a short spread that I really liked called “The Snapshot Spread.” I have been using it regularly ever since I read the book. There is also a very nice discussion of psychic ability in this section. 

The Major Arcana are described individually. A description of the card image and a discussion of the card are followed by an upright meaning, a reversed meaning, an affirmation and a prayer. Despite Samul’s obvious connection with--and love for--this deck, there is not a lot of symbolism in the images. This caused her to make some interesting stretches, gleaning what she could from the smallest details in order to describe the card imagery. The Minor Arcana card descriptions are in the same format with the addition of a description of each suit preceding the cards under it. While I found most of her descriptions covered the traditional information given for each card, her card meanings are her personal ones and they are not always what one would expect. An example is the meaning for the Empress, which Samul describes as:

“UPRIGHT: Self acceptance and acceptance of others, celebration of racial diversity, physical self esteem.

REVERSED: Difficulties with self-acceptance. Difficulties in accepting one’s own body. Eating disorders. Intolerance of others, especially regarding physical appearance. Racism”

As a minority person, I applaud Samul’s concern with these issues. I even agree that these could be a possible meaning for this card. But they are given as “the” meaning. No other choices are given. No mention of creativity, nature, abundance, giving birth, mothering, etc. She does touch on some of these things in her description of the card, but when you are doing a quick look-up, you generally don’t read the long descriptive part of the text. Samul’s meanings are generally positive, life-affirming and self affirming, but the reader should be warned that they are often personal and non-traditional. 

The book has several innovations. Some I like and some I am less fond of. Samul supplies her own astrological assignments for each card. I like the traditional Golden Dawn assignments, but I have also seen other assignments that I thought were well laid out and logical. Several of Samul’s assignments fall into this category. But some cards have so many planets and signs attributed to them that you would almost have to be an astrologer to make much sense of them. For example the Wheel of Fortune has a zodiac wheel in the main part of the image. Samul says of this card: 

“PLANETARY INFLUENCES: All the planets shown on the card come into play, but the primary influences on the card are Jupiter, the planet of expansion, and Saturn, planet of limitation. Secondarily the Sun indicates activity, energy and individual authenticity; while the Moon indicates receptivity, reflection and emotional authenticity.” 

I think someone who had no background in astrology might find this a bit confusing. However, those who do have basic knowledge of the planets and signs might find Samul’s assignments food for thought and fertile ground for further exploration.  

My favorite part of the book was the affirmations and prayers written for each card. Samul provides affirmations for each card, but she also encourages the reader to write their own affirmations for individual cards or even for short spreads. Samul’s are well written and short enough so you wouldn’t mind writing them on a scrap of paper to carry throughout the day. Samul also has a prayer for each card. The prayers are non-denominational and should be non-offensive to most readers regardless of whether they come from a Judeo-Christian background or a Pagan background. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It has a very positive, upbeat tone that I would not have associated with the Hudes’ imagery, but which is a definite boon to it. Samul’s approach is very encouraging and non-threatening, especially to beginners. Samul was able to glean some interesting points from the deck’s dearth of symbolic imagery, which could prove useful to those who use the Hudes deck as their primary reading deck. I would recommend this book for anyone who uses the Hudes deck and for anyone looking for tarot affirmations, regardless of deck used.

 

Excerpt:

Five of Cups

The woman in the Five of Cups is suffering a loss of some kind. Three of the cups are empty. The beautiful and courageous aspect of this card is that she has the strength to face the sadness. There is no turning away from the spilled Cups. She is not running away from her emotions or from the situation. She is still, and stands directly facing the Cups, looking at them.

Often, when we are deeply sad, we succumb to the temptation to slip into a kind of denial. Some of this is a natural response to grief, when our body reacts as if we are in shock. But eventually, we must feel in order to heal. If we go into denial, we may cover over our sadness and never let it travel through our body. The woman in this card allows the sadness to flow, as symbolized by the liquid flowing out of the cup. This indicates that she will, most assuredly, heal and be able to move on. Another important message in this card is that she doesn’t try to dull the pain in ways that are destructive to herself. The cups are down on the ground but she isn’t resorting to substance abuse. She stands on her own two feet, not needing the false crutch of addictive substances. However, she might choose to avail herself of prescription medication or natural herbal formulas to take the edge off her emotions, or to boost her immune system during this troubling time.

Notice the two full Cups behind her. After she has processed her unhappiness she can turn to what is full and waiting for her. But for now she simply faces her sorrow with strength and integrity. 

Card Meanings

UPRIGHT: Facing sorrow. Being able to feel loss. The strength to not turn to addictive substances when a loss happens.

REVERSED: Difficulty facing a sad situation. Grief that has overcome a person. Denial of emotions. The temptation to use drugs and alcohol to escape from deep sadness. 

Affirmation and Prayer

AFFIRMATION: I accept that this loss is a hard one. I affirm that I will in time, see the sun shine again in my life. I gain strength by opening my heart to both the present pain and the joy that will eventually follow in the near future. 

PRAYER: Grant me the courage to face this sadness. Show me the things that are still full and waiting for me. Bring me through my sorrow so I can grow again.

If you would like to purchase this book, click here.

Wisdom in the Cards by Leah Samul
Publisher: US Games
ISBN#: 1572813350


Text cited © US Games 2002
Review © 2002-2003 Michele Jackson
Page © 2003 Diane Wilkes