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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Mentally Speaking » » Readings With Spirit Cards--A Review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

gmeister
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I had hoped to post a review of READINGS WITH SPIRIT CARDS sooner, but my wife’s surgery intervened. As a result, this e-book by John Wells (or John Wellington Wells, as his name appears on the cover, which warms the Savoyardic heart) is now generally available from The Pro Shop. The $40 e-book is substantial—86 pages plus a bonus—and is heavy with the potential to take your readings in directions limited only by your own imagination.

Before I begin, I need to make certain things clear. I did not receive this e-book to review: I bought it. And while I have corresponded with John on various matters, I had no part in the creation of this work. I do respect John, who I consider a deep thinker on matters mental, if not a prolific writer. He has produced very little, although he has long been a member of our community. If you know John, even vicariously, then you appreciate that when he has something to say he says it but feels to need to shoot off his mouth or pen simply to draw attention to himself. That’s one reason this e-book caught my attention (well that and its association with hoodoo). Now that I’ve been able to really go through it, I’d like to share my thoughts.

In a word—well, two—get it!

Now for the why. First, the book is really two books: the one that bears the title and A CARTOMANCER’S CHAPBOOK, included for those who need an introduction to card reading. The primer is a tremendous resource, not only for novices, but for seasoned readers as well. John terms it “basic” and if that’s the case, sign me up now for the “advanced” version. Published alone, this beginner’s guide would be worth the price of the e-book; published as an “add-on,” it’s a steal!

This has been a good year for cartomancy, which has been a reading bridesmaid for far too long: Julian Moore published his fabulous system and now this. Like John I gravitate to playing cards since, palms aside, they’re everywhere and that familiarity is their strength. I won’t dwell on the CHAPBOOK except to say you could start giving readings with cards armed with its contents, although I would armor-up with Julian’s work (which John, himself, has highly praised on the Café). Instead, let me turn to the Spirit Cards.

In an earlier post, I mentioned how Spirit Cards use hoodoo as a framework, a very effective one I might add, even if there’s no evidence that such cards were ever part of the practice. (“Pure” or traditional cartomancy, on the other hand, was widely used). However, hoodoo is not a critical part of John’s system and I think it’s important to stress this. While I personally like the use of hoodoo, you may not and, as John notes, you need not. Indeed, he offers other suggestions designed to kick-start your own imagination. The system he teaches is highly flexible, able to be easily customized and individualized. That’s largely because of John’s philosophy that the power of the readings reside in the reader not in the symbols on the cards, a basic tenet of hoodoo as well as other folk practices. (One might argue, especially from a Jungian standpoint, that the reader’s power consists, at least in part, in unleashing/liberating the power of the “client”—a topic for a different time.)

For those who would rather “go by the book,” templates for and a nice explanation of John’s cards, and the “alphabet” he used to create it (with internet links) is included. For those who would rather create their own—especially those who, like John, believe this forges a stronger bond between the reader and the tools (think crafting your own runes)—there are many suggestions on how to proceed. The only “absolute” is that 23 cards must be used. It seems this is because John got the idea for spirit cards (IDEA, not method or design) from a deck (originally called a Spirit Deck, now called The Devil’s Deck) that a hoodoo “practitioner” in Britain uses. John doesn’t name the person, so I won’t. Nor will I get into whether his is authentic hoodoo or New Age hoodoo, the kind most people are familiar with—if they know about hoodoo at all—and which is of very doubtful parentage.

The crux of the system’s rationale as presented is that the spirits transmit messages in a strange language that only the reader can decipher and interpret. For those clients saturated by tarot, numerology, astrology, palmistry . . . this can be refreshing and startling when properly presented. But—and here’s the beauty part—the system is so flexible that even this will fall by the wayside in the right hands (and minds). The system invites/dares you to break out of your comfort zone, but passes no judgment should you prefer not to.

The 23 card limitation works, but it shouldn’t be seen as an unbreakable barrier but rather as a personal challenge for John who wanted to create his own deck using the constraints of the deck he discovered on line. Indeed, I think the system will spur variations—an exciting prospect. John, himself, sets the pace with a short bonus routine based on the system’s “technology” (see below) that uses 13 small stones instead of cards.

In any event, John has formulated a very impressive way of reading the 23 spirit cards (or the 13 stones, or . . . .) as if they were a full deck of plating cards. That’s right: get some cartomancy under your belt and a whole new world of wonders opens up for you.

Making the part equal to the whole with cards is not unique and John’s the first to state that, repeatedly, paying particular homage to both Ron Martin and Larry Baukin. (He’s quite diligent in giving proper crediting throughout the book, although I, as I mentioned above, I still think he should have identified not only the British reader but also the “jailbird” who has become the patron saint of, and the rarely challenged authority on what today passes for hoodoo, or conjure to use one of its other names.)

While John also a mnemonic for his technique, he’s quick to add that you can use your own, another testimony to the plasticity of his system.

I wanted to concentrate on the “practical” aspects of this wonderful book up front, but having done that, I would like to spend a few more lines on hoodoo, especially because John has also tried in this book to dispel some common misunderstandings and misconceptions. Hoodoo is not Voodoo: Voodoo is a religion; Hoodoo is a folk practice that supplements Christianity, which is very much a part of it. Indeed, in some instances “root-workers” or “two-headed doctors” (two of the common names for hoodoo practitioners) were also Christian ministers.

Hoodoo is also quintessentially American in the sense that it’s a “melting pot,” incorporating aspects of other folk practices. This means while there may be a basic “core,” there are also different t flavors. Like John, I’m a Southerner, although he is deeper South than I. In my region, hoodoo also includes traces of Cherokee and Appalachian practices. John’s experiences may well reflect other influences (although there is a certain amount of diffusion).

Another thing that’s often “missed” is the ethical dimension of hoodoo. Yes, the means may sometimes startle, but the ends are based on justice and rectification. Again, the Judeo-Christian tradition buttresses true hoodoo.

Finally, it’s hard to say what “authentic:” hoodoo really is, given decades of commercialization. Certainly, it’s none of the Pop Pretenders so prevalent today, even those that claim to be based on authentic sources. (Suffice-it-to-say that many of those sources were African-Americans interviewed in the 1930s by a white Episcopal minister who may not have been completely aware of the dominant part the Trickster plays in traditional black culture). Like John’s exceptional book, true hoodoo can be very individualized once the foundations have been learned.

And about that book. Here’s the very simple Bottom Line: If you’re a reader, or thinking of becoming one, you should be reading this book.

Now!
JohnWells
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Gary, many thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and appreciate your taking the time and effort to say so. I hope your wife is doing well.
dmoses
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Great review gm!

you've made something tempting irresistible, d*mn you!

d
"You're a comedian. You wanna do mankind a service, tell funnier jokes."
TPR by Dave Moses and Iain Dunford
gmeister
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Quote:
On 2011-08-08 14:16, dmoses wrote:
Great review gm!

you've made something tempting irresistible, d*mn you!

d


Belated, but thanks and sorry 'bout that.

A quick note for those who have acquired this wonderful resource (and a nudge for those who have "resisted"):

This is great for quick Hoodoo Card Cutting reads. In brief, the "readee" (sorry, but none of the words available at the moment seemed to work well) cuts the cards into three piles--past, present and future--and the top card of each pile is turned over and interpreted.

Fast, but effective, especially with a reader who can weave a good story.

BTW, this was, we believe, a common reading done by root doctors.

More suggestions to come.
Dr Spektor
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I got this too and it is excellent - I like anything organic in nature and this system has it in spades

You could adapt it beyond hoodoo to ancient Mayan glyphs to alien disc artifacts

Bravo John
"They are lean and athirst!!!!"
JohnWells
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Many thanks, I'm delighted you're enjoying it.
JohnWells
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Below is a link to Jheff's Marketplace of the mind with his comments. I am gratified that, with one ugly exception and that not related to the material itself but to my opinions expressed, I've received no negative feedback from purchasers of the Spirit Cards manuscript. It also may be that no one is sufficiently interested to complain. It's all about the same to me. Jheff seems to like it and that makes me happy.

http://www.marketplaceofthemind.com/readspir.html
JohnWells
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Quote:
A quick note for those who have acquired this wonderful resource (and a nudge for those who have "resisted"):

This is great for quick Hoodoo Card Cutting reads. In brief, the "readee" (sorry, but none of the words available at the moment seemed to work well) cuts the cards into three piles--past, present and future--and the top card of each pile is turned over and interpreted.

Fast, but effective, especially with a reader who can weave a good story.

BTW, this was, we believe, a common reading done by root doctors.

More suggestions to come.


It is very common amongst hoodoo diviners, though there is occasionally a stigma against those who are merely "card cutters" rather than "gifted readers", that is cold readers versus real psychics. There's a lesson there I think...

Incidently, a frequent client is an old black woman who cooks at a diner I frequent, and Vashti (not her real name, and sadly not a name one sees much anymore), invariably has a question. Or two.(I don't charge her anything, but she always gives me a couple of dollars which is a sacrifice.)
What I have found interesting is that while she absolutely believes in what I "see", she really believes in what the cards tell me. We are both the oracle. The cards don't speak to just anybody (or whoever is speaking through the cards); they need me to interpret for them, or for whoever. Likewise, my vision reaches farther with my tools than without. I do not believe that this dynamic is uncommon. Imagine the power when you make your working tools.
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