Mixed Virtue

Doreen Virtue has published a tarot deck!I have always been a fan of Doreen Virtue.  I had the pleasure of exchanging readings with her live on broadcast radio when I was the morning show co-host and “Resident Psychic” of Q105 in New London, CT.  She was charming and genuine, and her reading for me was relevant.

While I am not usually a fan of oracle decks other than tarot, I do really like Virtue’s “Ascended Masters Oracle Cards.”  Their message is universal.

I gave “Healing with the Angels Oracle Cards” to my mother.  I own a copy myself.  I used the “Healing with the Angels” deck with my assisted living class.  The senior citizens loved the images, and found the process of divination with this deck insightful and meaningful.

Doreen Virtue’s many oracle decks are always beautiful and well-made.  I appreciate the quality of her products, and of her message.

I have always had a bit of a problem with the concept of angels as gentle spiritual helpers.  Biblically, angels are fearsome beings.  I also have a problem with presenting creatures such as unicorns, fairies and dragons as spiritual helpers rather than mythical beasts.  I am comfortable with them as symbols more than as actual ethereal beings.

Doreen Virtue is neither the first nor the only teacher to suggest that these beings are actual spiritual entities.  D.J. Conway successfully presented dragon magick.  Faerie Wicca has become a respected Wiccan tradition.  I have softened on my stance against these concepts over the years.  The fact that beings such as angels and dragons appear in the mythology of a variety of cultures is compelling.

Now Doreen Virtue has published a tarot deck.  I haven’t seen it yet.  It’s called “Angel Tarot Cards.”  According to my research, Virtue has changed many of the Major Arcana names.  The Tower is “Life Experience.”  The Devil is “Ego.”  Overall, seven of the Major Arcana names are changed.

Virtue has associated each of the Major Arcana with an archangel.  The four suits are denoted according to their element, rather than an icon.  Each of the four suits is color-coded, and pictures a particular mythical creature.  The Fire suit is dragons, while the Water suit is mermaids.  The Earth suit is fairies and the Air suit is unicorns.  I would have switched those two, but that’s just me.

Among modern tarot, none of these departures from tradition is particularly original, but neither are they disturbing.  Associating specific angels with the Majors is simple archetypal assignment.  Tarot artists like Lisa Hunt, Kris Walderr and Julie Cuccia-Watts have been doing that for years.  This is also true for using mythical creatures and special colors for the suits. 

Softening the presentation of certain Major Arcana cards is also nothing new.  Many tarot artists choose to rename some of the cards.  Eileen Connolly did it quite successfully with the Connelly Tarot.  Lisa Hunt and Ciro Marchetti have also each created beautiful, usable decks with renamed cards.  To rename so many of the 22 Majors is a bit odd, but not terrible.

I am quite sure that this new Angels Tarot Deck is as lovely as Virtue’s other decks.  I might like to own it, and can think of some students and clients who would enjoy it.  But I do have a problem with it.  I have a serious, serious problem with it.

My problem is not with Doreen Virtue.  While I personally find her a bit fluffy and fanciful, I know many people appreciate her.  My problem is not that Doreen Virtue has created a tarot deck.  My problem is the way she is marketing the deck.

Virtue is calling this deck the “first deck of tarot cards that is 100 percent gentle, safe, and trustworthy”! 

Excuse me?  First, what is up with “gentle and safe”?  When did tarot suddenly become a laxative?

All kidding aside, it is heinous to market one’s product by casting aspersions on its predecessors. Politicians do that.  Healers shouldn’t.  To suggest that all tarot that has come before is “unsafe” is wrong on every level.  The only way a deck of cards could be “unsafe” is that it might give you a paper cut.

I have said this before and I will say it again.  I am tired of spiritual teachers maligning tarot out of laziness and ignorance.  Tarot words, images and symbols are only scary if we don’t take the time to learn what they mean.  Through that study, we grow, not only in our understanding of tarot but also in our understanding of ourselves and of the Universe. 

Virtue goes on to say that “All of the words in this deck, as well as the artwork by Steve A. Roberts, are positive and beautiful, while still retaining the magical effectiveness of traditional tarot”.

I know that some people really do prefer a deck without harsh images and words, while others see it as “watered down.”  I am OK either way, but Virtue is doing a huge disservice to many tarot artists by suggesting she is the first to do this.  Eileen Connelly has done it, Lisa Hunt has done it, and many others have done it.  Shame on you, Doreen Virtue, for making this false claim!  And shame on you, Hay House, for publishing it!

Doreen Virtue needs to realize that, in her position as a revered teacher, people will actually believe what she says.  She has a responsibility to be accurate.  I am truly disheartened by her lack of integrity in this matter.

I am in a quandary.  Do I buy this deck because I am sure it is beautiful and interesting?  Do I boycott it, because Doreen Virtue has clearly dissed tarot, and the tarot community?

With all the lovely decks from authors who operate with integrity that I have yet to add to my collection, I think I choose to boycott.

The truth is this.  With only a few notable exceptions, our community of tarot artists, authors, teachers and readers is honorable.  We support each other, we acknowledge each other’s efforts, and we build on each other’s contributions to the tarot corpus.

Which of us would dare say we were the first to do something, when we clearly were not?

Which of us would inaccurately malign a spiritual tradition that so many hold dear?

I suppose it is no surprise.  Doreen Virtue has made a career of reinventing spirituality to make it palatable and easy to digest.  Up until now, I have defended her.  Today, I have this to say.

The path to spiritual enlightenment and healing isn’t easy.  It’s not supposed to be.  Angels are fearsome for a reason.  If you aren’t willing to wrestle with the angels, and if you aren’t willing to study the traditions, you will never find enlightenment, and you will never heal.

But, you can certainly have fun looking at the pretty pictures.