A few weeks ago, a representative of Watkins Publishing contacted me to ask if I would be willing to review a deck they’d put out: The Chakra Wisdom Oracle Cards created by Tori Hartman and illustrated by the late Gretchen Raisch-Baskin. The representative said that the cards were “the complete spiritual toolkit for transforming your life, and the fables that form them were revealed to Tori by angels following a near death experience” and that they were a “brand new kind of deck that helps set your intention, remove blockages and achieve your dreams – an extraordinary divination system that puts your changing relationship to your chakras first.”
Now I usually check out when people start to mention angels and revelations because I’ve largely found these phrases tend to be used by those who have gone way too far into fluffy bunny territory for me to take them seriously, but I had been meaning to include more reviews on this site and this one would get me out of my typical wheelhouse, so I agreed. A week later, I had a deck of cards in my mailbox shipped all the way from London.
Upon unboxing the deck, my first impressions were very positive. Watkins did a great job putting out a quality product. The box is seriously sturdy. If someone were to make this deck their primary divination tool, they probably wouldn’t have to transfer the cards to another box for several years. The card inset in my box was slightly ripped and some cards had slipped behind it, but that isn’t anything a couple drops of Elmer’s Glue couldn’t fix. I was also surprised at how sturdy the cards themselves are. Each one is probably about as thick as two standard Bicycle playing cards stuck together, which means they can hold up to a lot of handling. I’d say that this is a deck that could easily be used for 25 years before getting too worn to be used, so if a long-term investment is something you’ve got in mind for a divination system, this would definitely qualify. The cards are also easier to shuffle than a standard deck of Tarot cards. They’re only about a quarter of an inch wider than a playing card, and maybe just about a half and inch longer. I found them very easy to shuffle and manipulate, which pleased me.
I was, however, most pleased by the included book, which is a bound paperback in full color. I’ve always been annoyed at the folded sheet with rough explanations that come with most Tarot decks. Because of that, I really only buy decks where the author/illustrator has also published his or her own guide through the imagery. The explanations given in the guidebook aren’t exactly long, but they do give a nice synopsis of Hartman’s fables and some guiding questions. Without them, I’m not too sure I would be able to make much sense out of some of the illustrations.
That being said, I really did love the illustrations. I’m a sucker for saturated watercolors, and that was Raisch-Baskin’s primary medium here. However, there was something in her depictions of people that I found alienating. My favorite cards were those that didn’t have too many human figures: I thought Victim, Trickery, and Forgiveness were some of the best executed cards in the deck. I was, however, pleased to see a fairly racially-diverse depiction of people in the cards. There are people who could be Hispanic, Middle-Eastern, or Indian. There are people who could be Asians. There are several cards where there’s at least one Black person, and there’s even a couple cards where the people are clearly Native American or Inuit. It’s nice to see a divination deck that isn’t totally white-washed.
As far as using them in reading went, I thought the cards performed well. I used the seven-card Chakra layout, which frankly looks like a bit of a mess when you lay it out, but is supposed to represent a winding path similar to what is shown on the back of the cards. The chakra count starts from the bottom up. Card 1 is the first chakra, or the basis of the reading and shows what sustains you and what requires growth in order to sustain your intention. Card 2 is the second chakra, or your emotional state and indicates your true feelings or what may be attracting/repelling your desires or your level of emotional discipline. Card 3 is the third chakra or what is on your mind. It refers to your intellectual process and whether your thoughts are supportive or challenging and addresses ways to clear or sharpen focus or reveals hidden energy drains and blocks. Card 4 is the fourth chakra and asks if your heart is in the question and reveals what is pivotal to your journey and how to free yourself from emotional obligations. Card 5 is the fifth chakra and asks how you express yourself. It reveals your ability to communicate and the barriers to clear communication, as well as how to shift your inner reality to affect your external reality. Card 6 is the sixth chakra or the sixth sense and shows how you are using your intuition. Card 7 is the 7th chakra and reflects your ability to trust spirit: the outcome that depends on your ability to work through the card’s three aspects: the subconscious, what is currently happening, and the card’s highest calling.
In my first chakra position, I had Passion, which means that the foundation of finding true love is knowing intuitively what is right for me, though that knowledge can make me feel estranged from my friends and family. My second chakra held Soulmate, which means that I feel I have to face my true feelings on finding love and make necessary changes. It also means I have to suck it up and try: you can’t smell a rose without risking being pricked by its thorns. The third chakra notes that what I think I need to do to find love is to take care of myself and to cut ties with the things that leech my resources. The fourth chakra notes that my emotional investment in this question is to trust my inner guide of instinct, which in this case seems to call back to my first card very strongly. The fifth chakra shows how I’m currently expressing myself about this question…which is basically that I’m not at all. I’m holding to perfections: I’ve got stuff in place, the “suit that hangs in the closet for fear I’ll spill wine on it.” I’m isolating myself out of fears and of not giving people a chance or risking a little bit of muss. The sixth chakra shows how I’m using intuition and indicates I’m in a period of time where my poles are changing and a new period of perspective is beginning. Whether or not I can find true love depends on how I respond to the seventh chakra, which here indicates my ability to work through Rejection, which is largely that when I’m given the chance, I’m set aside. It’s a subconscious fear, for sure, and it is what currently happens in the dating scene–probably because my whole persona when I’m out screams “Don’t even try.” I think the highest calling of this card is the arrival of a force that teaches something to break through rejections.
All in all, it seems like an apt reading to me, so it is clear that the deck can be successfully used. Is it something I personally would consider keeping around? Maybe. I think it is a really great example for how to create a divination method using stories and symbols that resonate for you, and I can see using it as a teaching example in that area. But as far as integrating it into my current divination tools? Probably not. Hartman’s stories don’t really ring my bells. I like more universally acknowledged set of mythic figures and archetypes, which is why Tarot works so well for me. There’s also aspects about Hartman’s fables that are just too precious for my personal tastes. Finally, I like my divination methods to tie into how British Traditional Witchcraft views the cosmos, and I think the major arcana (with its large-scale archetypes on a divine journey) and minor arcana (with its elemental associations) works very well for that. Hartman’s deck is a nice one, but it’s just not for me.
If you are interested in these cards, they can be purchased on Amazon in the US through this link, or in the UK through this link. If you would like to see Tori Hartman herself talk about the cards and perform readings using them, check out her YouTube channel.