Review – Inspirations For Survivors

Inspirations For Survivors

Author: Aunia Kahn, Russell J. Moon
Artist: Aunia Kahn
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
2012
ISBN #978-0-7643-4124-3

“Inspirations For Survivors” is a 44 card deck and 96 page companion book that is meant to act as encouragement to those that are in survivor mode, those that have worked their way through some of the difficulties that life has thrown at them, and come out the other side. We all face crisis in our lives – whether it be relationship (familial, career, friendships), career, financial, health, death, spiritual … each crisis is a turning point for us, and a chance to get to know ourselves better.

The title says it all – these cards, with their images and positive messages, encourage us to face life, to grow, to heal, and to create new, positive thought patterns. This deck can be used as a meditation tool, or as a clarifier for a particular issue. In its own way, it can be used as an oracle to help someone in survivor mode move forward.

Kahn, herself a survivor of childhood abuse, is also the creator of the “Silver Era Tarot”, and the “Lowbrow Tarot Project”. Her work challenges preconceived notions, and moves the viewer to change their thought patterns. Her art combines photography, painting, and collage to express her visions.

The message on the back of the box sets the tone for this deck – “In this life, we are all survivors on some level.” In order to survive, in order to grown, we have to face the challenges that life throws at us. Survivors are those who have made it to the other side of a challenge. Life is a journey, one that we undertake with the purpose of manifesting our destiny.

The cards and companion book come in the very recognizable Schiffer box – sturdy, with a magnetic lock for the lid. (I love this feature – no more cards all over the floor!) The top of the box features the image of the black roses from the card that carries the message “We Are Delicate Creatures. In Love We Are Strong.” The back of the box carries information on the intent of the deck, and the ways in which it is intended to be used.

The 96 page companion book carries a thumbnail image of the card that carries the message “Be The King Or Queen Of The World You Want”. The book begins with bios for Kahn and Russell, which is followed by a short introduction and explanation of the deck. The cards are presented with a full color scan on the right hand page, and text discussing the card on the left hand page. (There are two exceptions to this – cards with the messages “Inside We Can Reach The Inner Spirit Of Peace”, and “Let Warmth Of The Sun Hold You In Its Embrace” have the image and text on the same page.)

One of my favorite cards is the Mask. From the book:

“We Must Let Go Of Hiding Behind A Mask

We are all beautiful beings; we are perfect as we are and nothing can make us happier or more confident, than a positive and healthy perception of who and what we are. When we let go fg false masks that make us feel we can hide our insecurity, we will find the true beauty and perfection that will amaze us. We are who we are for a reason, for a possibility, and for a promise of something great. Be confident in our uniqueness and embrace ourselves in our security.”

The cards are 2 ¾” by 4 ¾”, on glossy card stock. The backs are light gray, with a white lace-like circle in the center, surrounding a darker gray background. Centered on the background is a white image that curls around and looks somewhat snake-like (think ouroboros here, except that the head is not biting the tail). The card faces show a solid color background (different for each card), with the card message in white lettering at the bottom of the card. The card images vary from realistic to fantasy,

Although the messages are positive and supportive, I found some of the cards to be a bit dark in nature – not the imagery, but the literal coloring on the cards. Amongst these cards are “Be The King Or Queen Of Your World”, “Follow The Path To Joy, It Is Right Before You”, “Time Heals Past Wounds”, and “When One Door Closes, Another Will Open”. Several of the cards also have a 40’s/50’s feel to them, including “Even If We Feel Stuck, There Is Always A Way Out”, “Hope And Love Are Always Within Your Reach”, and “You Can Go Anywhere, And Do Anything”.

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Some of my favorite cards are “We Are Delicate Creatures, In Love We Are Strong”, “We Must Let Go Of Hiding Behind A Mask”, “Even If We Feel Stuck, There Is Always A Way Out”, Each Puzzle Piece Exposes New Opportunities”, and “Hope And Love Are Always Within Your Reach”.

This deck could easily be used by individuals of all ages and cultural backgrounds. It fills a need – the need that we all have to be supported on our journey. At the conclusion of the companion book, the authors say:

“It is our most sincere desire that the “Inspirations For Survivors” deck will be a doorway for your initial or continued enlightenment and will be able, even in its most subtle revelations, to bring you a sense of peace, hope, and realization. We are all survivors; we are people of many situations and feelings which we all experience and endure in our lifetime. With this, we encourage you all, and us as well, to continue to strive and excel as we become all that we desire to be.”

© August 2012 Bonnie Cehovet

Silver Era Tarot

Silver Era Tarot

Author: Russell J. Moon

Artist: Aunia Kahn

Schiffer Books

2010

ISBN #978-0-7643-3438-2

I kept running across references to the “Silver Era Tarot” so often that I just had to see what this deck was all about! It is very unique, and I am very drawn to it – I keep picking it up to sneak peaks at the cards, or to read a bit more in the companion book. I am one of those people that play with the cards first, then check the book out. The LWB (Little White Book) that accompanies this deck IS actually a little book – it is in book format, has a spine, and the inside pages are nice and glossy. Point in favor of the publishers!

The two-page introduction to the book is written by both the author and the artist, and has a lot to say for itself. Here we find that the original concept for the deck (which started out as a majors only deck, and grew to the final 78 card version) came from Aunia’s desire to study the background, symbolism, and meanings in the deck in order to learn the Tarot, and be proficient in reading the cards. She brought her own artistic style and feel to the deck, and made the decision to create a unique journey by using herself as the model for all of the female figures in the deck. (I would like to note here that many figures that are traditionally male have become female in this deck, including the Fool, the Magician,  Hierophant, Charioteer, the Hermit, Death, and the Pages and Knights of the Court cards.

The male figures that are in this deck are modeled on the author, Russell J. Moon.

The writing of the companion book (LWB) became an interesting journey itself, as the author and the artist were coming from two very different belief systems. Aunia had a Catholic upbringing, but grew to question the relevance of organized religion. Her choice was to settle on just being “spiritual”, rather than following any one given religion. Russell grew up in a Christian household, where things such as the Tarot were simply not discussed. He did not have the same questions that Aunia did, but he did want to follow his intuitions, some of which were energy practices such as Reiki, and other people’s interpretations of a higher power.

After years of studying and dissecting traditional interpretation for the Tarot, along with various author’s interpretations, the decision was made to leave some traditional meanings, and combine their differing understanding on the meanings for other cards.

Their hope is that this deck will ignite the Seeker’s own journey to self-discovery.

The deck and LWB are presented in a heavy duty cardboard box with a magnetic lift up lid on top. There is a short ribbon attached to the box top to help lift the lid. I really like this feature, which is appearing with many of Schiffer’s decks. It ensures that if the box is accidentally turned upside down that the cards and the LWB remain intact.

The book, as mentioned above, IS a book Yes! There is a two-page introduction in the front, with templates for single card and three card spreads, along with the traditional ten card Celtic Cross spread. At the very end are biographies for the artist and author. The cards are presented one to a page, with a small black and white scan, a short description of the card, the upright and reversed meanings, and keywords. There is a prelude to each of the four suits, explaining the energetic function of the respective suit.

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The deck is traditional in nature, with traditional names for the Major Arcana, Strength at VIII and Justice at XI. The suites are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The Court cards are Page, Knight, Queen and King.

The cards are good quality card stock,  2 ¾” by 4 ½”. The backs show a gray and white diamond pattern, with a medium gray outer border, followed by a slimmer, darker ray border. The card faces show a light gray border, followed by a slender white inner border. The imagery is gray and white, with a color focal point in each card (which differs from card to card). The Major Arcana show the card number in Roman Numerals at the top of the page, with the card title across the bottom. The Minor Arcana Pips (numbered cards) show the card number and suit in text across the bottom of the card. The Court cards show the title and suit across t he bottom of the card.

Some of the imagery in this deck is very traditional, some of it is very unique. Some of the less traditional imagery would include the Fool, which shows a female figure in a lovely ruffled dress (the same figure is shown lyin down as Death);  the Magician, which shows a female figure with a wand in one had, appearing to read a tablet that she is holding in her left hand;  and the Hierophant, which is shown as a solo female figure. The Charioteer is female, with the horses, one dark and one light, facing in different directions; the Hermit is a female; the Tower shows one female figure falling, with the figure being outsized in relation to the Tower itself. The World shows a female figure standing on top of a spire, holding a globe in her right hand, with a bird sitting on top of it.

The more traditional imagery would include Strength (although she is seated beside the Lion, and not taming him), Justice (with her sword and scales), the Hanged Man, Temperance, the Star, and the Three and Four of Swords.

A couple of the cards did not appeal to me at all, including the Sun (which is shown against a cloudy sky), the Empress (who is shown seated on a black and white checker-board floor, holding a male head in her lap), and the Ten of Swords (which shows the swords going into the front of the figure, as opposed to the back).

Cards that really did appeal to me included the Fool, the Magician (I loved the lemnescate that appeared throughout the deck!), the High Priestess (shown leaning

on one of the pillars, wearing a lovely flower print dress!), Death, the Ace of Cups (with the little Hummingbird poised over the cup), the Four of Cups (which shows a female figure looking none too happy!), the Nine, Ten and Queen of Cups, and the Four of Wands.

Most people know that I am edging away from reading professionally, but I would offer this deck to a friend or client that I was reading for. It would also appeal to collectors, and to all levels of readers. I would also have no problem using this deck for ritual or journey work. It is a gentle deck, and presents its wisdom in a gentle manner.

© August 2011 Bonnie Cehovet