BOOK & DECK REVIEW: Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards

Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards

Elaine Clayton

ISBN# 978-0-7643-3550-5

$29.95, hardcover spiral bound

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to own a deck you could use for self-exploration & divination that had all of your own interpretations so that you wouldn’t have to depend on learning the interpretations from some book?  If so, then the Illuminara: Intuitive Journal with Cards is made for you.

If you practice journaling or tarot journaling, Illuminara adds a new dimension to one’s journaling pursuits.  Usually, when I journal I’m focused on a personal experience, dream, or tarot reading I’ve had.  When I tarot journal I make note of the date, lunar phase, question, cards received, & my thoughts & interpretations of those cards.  Illuminara is different in that it contains a set of 40 5 X 7” cards of a random collection of images taken from Elaine Clayton’s art she has created over the years.  Unlike a tarot or oracle deck, she does not provide any meanings or interpretations of any of the images.  Instead, she leaves that up to the reader, namely – you.

Elaine Clayton’s method is based upon Carl Jung’s theory of the “personal unconscious,” which consists of the symbols to which each of us has assigned personal meaning specific to each of us as individuals.  For example, we’re all familiar with the universal symbol for “peace.”  However, growing up a friend of mine had spent his early years on a farm.  He would always laugh when he saw a peace sign because to him it did not represent peace.  For him it was a chicken’s foot inside a circle.  In his case he had assigned his own meaning to a symbol that has the same meaning for many of us, but not for him.  

This is exactly what readers are meant to do with this deck.  Examine the cards, answer journaling prompts provided by the author on blank journaling pages (also provided) and derive your own meanings for these images based upon associations they bring up to the surface from your own memories and emotions.  By so doing you’re creating a system of self-exploration and divination that is unique to you.

The same image viewed by different people conjures up a different memory or association for each observer.  These memories, in turn, illicit different emotional reactions from each viewer.  This is the reason everyone’s meaning for each of these images will be unique to that person. 

The process of journal keeping helps a person to explore their outer world that then leads to discovery and exploration of their inner world.  We then begin to feel “intuitively connected and informed.  We are participating consciously with stimuli, rather than simply being hammered by stimuli” (Clayton, p. 12).  Furthermore, maintaining a journal helps us to create and reaffirm “our own pictoral language, the unique, dynamic, and wondrous visual inner library we bring with us wherever we go” (Clayton, p. 13). 

The cards consist of random images from everyday life; such as, a dog,  a girl looking up at birds in a tree, a plate of lemons, a tree stump, a sea turtle, an angel, a lifeguard, and an old couple, just to name a few.  The art style is eclectic and ranges in complexity from simple line sketches rendered in pencil, such as a boy seated at a table (see image above), to more involved line drawings rendered in pen and ink to full color watercolor and acrylic paintings.  The concept behind the cards is to choose one or a few each day.  Upon finding their corresponding page in the book (each card is numbered for ease of reference), the reader then answers the journaling prompts for the card they have drawn. You can draw the card consciously or intuitively, the choice is yours.  The prompts are the same for each image.

I chose the dog simply because it’s card number 1 and then I looked through all the images and chose the sea turtle because I love them.  The image of the dog reminded me of the dog I had while growing up.  She and I were together for fifteen years.  I ended up crying because of the feelings I allowed to surface for the first time in over twenty years.  Feelings of love, happiness, and grief overwhelmed me.  In the end I was very grateful for the experience and I found it to be healing.

For the sea turtle my reaction was very different.  I have always loved sea turtles from afar, never experiencing one in person until recently (except in an aquarium exhibit, of course).  This image brought up feelings of joy for me as I responded to the journaling prompts by writing about my experience last June during a snorkeling excursion in Maui, Hawaii.  It was one of the most fantastic and glorious experiences of my life.  Based upon my journaling exercise with these two cards, if I were to use this deck in a reading and these cards appeared the dog for me would represent loyalty and friendship, but also loss and grief.  If the sea turtle appeared in a reading it would represent great joy and the realization of a life-long dream.  So you can see how once you’ve completed the journaling prompts for each card that these cards can be a successful tool of self-exploration and even divination.

The book itself is spiral bound within a hard cover and consists of a brief section that runs only twenty pages.  More is not necessary due to the author’s system being very straight-forward and uncomplicated.  The remaining 110 pages consist of a color reproduction of each card accompanied by a journaling space on the following page and thirty blank “Psychic Journal” pages conclude the book.  Packaging consists of a hardback book with internal spiral binding so the book will lie flat in order to facilitate the journaling process.  The cards are housed in a large pocket inside the back cover.  This is a unique approach that I feel many people would find fun, exciting, and helpful.  

~ Nefer Khepri, Ph. D., R. M-T.

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