“The images are magnificent shimmers that evoke deep wonder. Though each painting was done intuitively, it radiates rootedness in reality. What a wonderful relief from New Age artists who cannot paint the mystical without leaving the earth behind” – Creation Spirituality Magazine
I bought the Soul Cards many years ago. I cannot remember if I had both sets or just the one, but I ended up trading them. I cannot remember what I traded them for or who I traded them with.
Over the years, I considered getting them again because I always loved the idea of a 100% intuitive deck. I also adore the artwork from both Soul Card sets. Both card packs made it into my Amazon basket on many occasions and I often sat in contemplation with both shrink-wrapped sets in London’s Watkins. However, it was only in December of last year that they finally became mine again. When my partner asked what I’d like for Christmas, I decided I wanted something original, so the Soul Cards sprang to mind once more.
What is so special about Soul Cards? Well, back when they were invented, they were one of the only sets I can remember that allowed a reader to rely entirely on their intuition. Both decks (because there are two, sold separately) do not contain instructions or descriptions for the cards. There are 60 to each pack. There are no titles either, so the meanings you give to them are your own and are not open to question. In that sense, you cannot really go wrong.
The artist for both sets of Soul Cards is Deborah Koff-Chapin.
Deborah Koff-Chapin is the founder of The Centre for Touch Drawing. She first discovered Touch Drawing when touching a paper towel that had been left over a freshly inked printing plate. Moving her fingers over it left impressions on the other side and Deborah felt as though something profound was taking place. She now presents workshops in Touch Drawing, sharing both its artistic and therapeutic values. Elizabeth Coburn of Tree of Life Ceremonials says “The work of Deborah Koff-Chapin releases us into the deepest meanings of life. The soul sees itself reflected in her mirrors, and is revealed to itself. It is art in the service of transformation”.
You might believe that a 100% intuitive deck of cards with no guide book would be a breeze to read with. I mean, there are no prescribed formulas to remember and you can pretty do whatever you like with them. But for some readers, this is the equivalent of handing a blank sheet of paper to a writer or artist and saying ‘create!’. It’s not always as easy as it seems.
This was probably my initial problem back then and I was worried I might have those same issues. When interacting with each other, the Soul Cards do begin to speak, but you will need to be patient because it takes time. With a bank of such ethereal images, they seem to work on a deeper level than most oracles I’ve used. I’d suggest that they are most effective for making contact with the subconscious, spirit, or as a springboard for meditation. Of course, you can do whatever you like with them, but they may appear tightlipped if required for fortune-telling or when seeking mundane answers.
For those who like the idea of the Soul Cards but feel that they might need a helping hand into their world, here are a couple of processes which helped me –
One way of bringing order to these decks is to incorporate a third. If you have read any of my articles about deck combining, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
To combine decks is as simple as it sounds. We find decks which either harmonise or contrast in a way that their mixing stimulates our intuition. In this case, I wanted something which gave the Soul Cards some structure and found that the Mother Mary Oracle (Alana Fairchild) does a good job. When the two decks sit together, you’ll also notice that the art styles compliment one another.
A different deck can add a theme to the set. With Mother Mary in mind, the Soul Cards took on a feminine and nurturing role, playing characters in Mary’s plot. If you find the 100% intuitive response to reading the Soul Cards difficult to begin with, then combining them with another deck can provide pointers and highlight symbolism you might not have first noticed.
Finding the Archangels
As many of you will know, I work with the energies of the archangels on a daily basis. Each has character references, which I use in readings, for positive thought, and for protection. I have a nice handful of Angel decks but I have been eager to find images of the archangels which are mine. Of course, as a designer, I’d considered making my own, but since owning the Soul Cards again, an idea came to me in the middle of the night and I scrambled out of my bed to grab the decks – why didn’t I look through these cards and find the sixteen archangels I use in my practice intuitively!
I found this to be an emotional experience. While I love Kyle Gray’s Angel Prayers Oracle Cards, finding the archangels amongst this 120 card stack was like seeing them for the very first time, because I was using my heart to choose each one. As a face or figure flipped over, I immediately sensed which was which and there was very little conscious decision making in the process. My intuition led the way, as it rightly should.
Archangel Michael (above right) is a favourite of mine. I needed a card which was masculine, strong, and focused. The profile of the figure, dressed in gold and blue, felt right. Similarly, the green winged rider instantly reminded me of Archangel Raphael.
Amongst the cards, details began to reveal themselves. The face with the dove leaving it’s mouth is definitely Raguel for me, since he brings harmony and peace to a situation and pacifies difficulties between people. I see Archangel Chamuel in the figure providing a path to his heart and who is encircled with a passionate red. Chamuel encourages us to open our hearts.
As I moved through the cards, I found one for each of the archangels and it felt as though these images had been waiting for me to discover them. Ariel shows her courage and strength by way of an orange inner fire. I recognised the goddess holding the moon as Haniel. And Archangel Sandalphon, known for delivering our messages to God and for the power of prayer, is shown with his eyes closed, praying. You can even see a lighter hand in the image, connecting him to his source and reminding us that our prayers are being answered.
Of course, you needn’t look for Archangels in your set of Soul Cards, but this process is open to any system you might want to incorporate into the deck – Chakras, Seasons, Gods, Goddesses, or even spheres from the kabbalistic Tree of Life. There is even enough cards (if you use both sets) to put together your own 78 card tarot. For those who might feel a little overwhelmed by a lack of structure, this can provide an anchor and was a very rewarding exercise.
It feels important to remind our self of the quote that opened this review – “The images are magnificent shimmers that evoke deep wonder. Though each painting was done intuitively, it radiates rootedness in reality. What a wonderful relief from New Age artists who cannot paint the mystical without leaving the earth behind“. While the images are deeply mystical and ethereal in places, we can relate to them from where we stand, here on Earth. They communicate feelings of both hope and fear, joy and pain, light and dark. Like life, they have an ability to change with each reading and reader and meld with our experiences. This is not a deck to take lightly. It can’t be cracked or mastered easily but it can be prized open gently if you approach it with your heart, step by step (or should I say beat by beat).
What I assumed would be a less complicated way of reading cards has actually turned out to be a far more complex tool than I could have imagined. For some, it will be a five-minute friend, too wise, too silent, and mildly intimidating for a long term relationship. But for anyone with eyes unhindered by expectation, opening these decks will be like dipping your toes into the dark depths of the soul.
You can find a video of my reflections with the Soul Cards and archangels here.
Images from Soul Cards 1 & 2 by Deborah Koff-Chapin
Image from Mother Mary Oracle by Alana Fairchild
You can check out the full decks on Deborah’s site