While my interest in angels is not new, my use of mainstream Angel Cards is. I have had a handful of angel-themed oracles in my collection for a long time, but until relatively recently, I was never drawn to those by Doreen Virtue – until I began working as a reader in a spiritual shop in Kent. At the reading table, which I shared with a handful of other readers, was a selection of working-decks for use; some of which were by Doreen. I always brought my own tarots to work with but I would occasionally flip through the packs on offer and see what advice those oracle cards had to give on a said day.
One afternoon, I was sorting out the shop stock for display and found a few cards from the Ascended Masters deck in a large wicker box. Hunting further, I found the remainder of the deck scattered between boxes and drawers and eventually located their guide-book. In between seeing clients, I played about with them. I drew a card from both the Ascended Masters Oracle Cards and my own copy of Angel Tarot (also by Doreen Virtue).
Something was born that afternoon. Cards from the two decks started to form very obvious relationships – such as Merlin and the tarot Magician; Oshun and the watery Queen of Cups. The card decks were ganging up and providing me with relevant information, so I took them home and used them in my Tarot Thoughts videos for the week. They received a good response.
Since that time, I have invested in a handful of Doreen’s decks, which I mix in with other packs (notably by Kyle Gray, John Holland, James Van Praagh) for Angel readings online. When someone is looking for something other than my traditional tarot readings, these provide a different option. I have found that combining the decks has given them extra strength. The strongest combination, in my opinion, is the one between Healing With The Angels (Doreen Virtue’s first deck)and Angel Answers (with Radleigh Valentine).
I have always preferred simplicity when reading. Cluttered images or too many meanings in one card does not work well for me. Healing With The Angels is naturally a good choice for my reading style because the cards have no more than two words on each. They have a simple title, such as ‘Friendship’, ‘Celebration’, ‘Nature’, and ‘Retreat’. Their images, created by different artists, enhance the title. For example, ‘New Love’ shows two cherubs with bows and arrows and ‘Blessings’ depicts an angel dropping flowers over a snowy town. Some artworks are recognisable (Abbott Handerson Thayer and William-Adolphe Bouguereau), whilst others are by less known modern artists (such as Bruce Harman and Corey Wolfe). This clash of art styles would usually bother me but the design of this particular deck, with the same frame and font on each card, holds everything together nicely. Each card compliments its neighbour surprisingly well.
Healing With the Angels was Doreen Virtue’s first oracle deck release – a project she was guided to create by her grandmother in spirit. At first, it had been hard to convince her publisher of her vision, but with persistence, the deck was eventually printed in 1999. Who could have known what would follow. Doreen’s decks are some of the most accessible in stores over here in the UK and there are a lot of them to choose from. Her later titles became more polished than Healing With the Angels, but I actually prefer the simplicity of that original deck. Her sets also became synonymous with positive affirmations, which are often printed on each and every card. With that in mind, it is interesting that Angel Answers (a collaboration with Radleigh Valentine, published in 2014) returns to brief words and titles. It’s as if she has come full-circle.
When I first saw Angel Answers, I didn’t quite get it. The wording on the cards appeared vague (with titles like ‘Wait’, ‘Don’t Stop’, ‘Reconsider’ and ‘Unlikely’. Looking at it again online a month or so later, I realised that the deck is best when used as an accompaniment to another – in exactly the same way as I’d been combining other decks already. In fact, it is suggested in the pack’s book – “Angel Answers are designed to work with other oracle or angel-based tarot cards in order to provide more detailed answers should you need them”.
The cards are great for confirmation or providing a full-stop at the end of a reading. In a two card spread, you might receive a card of friendship from Healing With the Angels. Angel Answers will accent that card with something like ‘Peaceful Resolution’, ‘Helpful People’ or ‘Communicate Clearly’. Alternatively, you might draw ‘New Beginning’. Angel Answers can enhance the card in a multitude of different ways – you might draw ‘Not the Right Time’, ‘Romance’ or ‘You’re Ready’. The angle of the subject in the first card is shifted by the second.
The artwork within Angel Answers is bright, to say the least. It shines predominantly in golds and pinks, but other jewel colours feature – in particular, vivid blues and striking flashes of green. Each image (by Marius Michael-George, whose work I enjoyed in some of the Ascended Masters cards) is filled with light, showing angels on each. While similar to one another, these cards are extremely attractive. Some of the angels appear classical and others are photo-real, but amongst this breeding ground of kitsch , this is not immediately noticeable. Some of the faces are slightly bleached out, making them a little difficult to see, but generally, the colours and scenes are a joy to work with every time. The backs are glorious and the edges are gilded in gold.
While some of the cards from both decks might not seem immediately expressive or stacked with symbolism, this has not been a problem for me. I have used them as a Lenormand reader would, fusing the vibe of each card and then using my intuition to form an interpretation. This has been where the real magic has been for me and why I’ve decided to review the decks together. Last night, I drew ‘Support’ (Healing With the Angels) and ‘Ask for Help from Others’ (Angel Answers). The link of assistance here is obvious but it took me a little time to understand the powerful message that was being passed through the cards. I am aware of the people who care about me in my physical environment, but on looking at the first image of the Ascended Masters standing around the globe, I began to think of the online figures of support I have built up and can call on. If I’d been feeling lonely on my path, this combination would have left me feeling less so.
One of the criticisms of Doreen Virtue is of her positive slant within oracles and tarot. Interestingly, the messages within Angel Answers have slightly more balance than you might expect – ‘Not the Right Time’, ‘No’, ‘Reconsider’, and ‘Unlikely’ are such examples. The deck also contains cards associated with timing. Healing With the Angels has a familiar and upbeat theme to other oracles created by Doreen, but although not suggested, there is no reason why reversals can not be used. This would add 44 further meanings and provide greater scope. ‘Freedom’, when reversed, could indicate someone feeling trapped; ‘Ideas & Inspiration’, when upside down, may speak of a mental block or confusion; when flipped, ‘Body Care’ might suggest someone not looking after them self or in a self-destructive lifestyle.
When I began to learn tarot over eighteen years ago, it was fashionable to knock the Rider Waite Tarot. It was considered the baby-steps deck and not a serious tarot pack by many enthusiasts and students. These days, it is Doreen’s work which get the bad press. You know, over the years, I have learned that the best deck is the one which works well for the reader. There is no ‘one size fits all’ label in tarot and oracle. Is it not better to read a Doreen Virtue deck well than not know the Mary El Tarot‘s ass from its elbow?
You will not learn about the history of angels by using either of these decks, but from my own experience, they are a wonderful tool of foresight and insight when used together, should you wish to communicate with the unconscious, spirit, or just learn a little more about your self.
Illustrations from Healing With the Angels Oracle by Doreen Virtue and Angel Oracle Cards by Doreen Virtue and Radleigh Valentine