Jewels of the Lotus - Tibetan Gemstone Oracle
"Crystals, like all life forms, are a vital part of creation, with their own purposeful mission."
by Dawn Silver, illustrated by Pat Gullett
The use of crystals in technology (computers, watches, lasers) is well known, and their colorful beauty as jewelry or adornment, is obvious. What might not be well known or obvious is how the small gems can aid us in our paths of healing and awareness. The author of Jewels of the Lotus, Dawn Silver, asserts that we each have five bodies - "the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and ethereal," and that crystals, through their individual properties, have the capacity to affect each of these bodies, bringing us improved health through balance and spiritual refinement. Silver has drawn upon systems of gemstone therapy, energy healing, chakras, Tibetan Buddhism, the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as her simple childhood fascination with rocks and crystals, in her inspired creation of this oracle.
Five main suits that correspond to the five main elements of life, and one special suit, make up the Jewels of the Lotus Oracle. The eight cards of each of the main suits feature a specific background design. The Earth cards, representing "the green of Mother Earth in the springtime and the gold of the sun," portray a background of trees and hillside. Clouds and blue sky decorate the Air Cards, signifying direction and focus. Fire Cards show bright red dragons and leaping flames, reflecting a sense of spiritual perfection, and the volatile nature of this growth. The seashells, dolphins, and waves of the Water Cards offer a feeling of "peace, contemplation and infinity," and represent the life-giving forces of the feminine. Ether Cards feature clouds as well, but these are lighter and brighter in color than the Air Cards. A large lotus blossom is centered on every card of each of the five main suits, in colors to match the card's gemstone or crystal. The crystal is the main focus of each card, and is the only photographic element. Additionally, each card - or gemstone - corresponds to a chakra, giving more meaning to readings.
The sixth special suit is called the Five Skandhas, and it contains only five cards. In Buddhism, it is basically understood that the five skandhas - also called aggregates - of form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness, are the means through which we experience craving, attachment, and suffering. The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh offer a gentle way of working with our own skandhas, bringing peace and awareness. For example, in addressing the first skandha - of form - Thich Nhat Hanh recommends doing breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation focusing on the body, which will ultimately allow us to realize the impermanence of the physical. In Jewels of the Lotus, the five skandhas are represented on the cards by symbols of sacred geometry surrounded by a white lotus, and a teaching is shared with each card to help bring about balance and harmony among the five aggregates. Through work with this suit, the benefits of mindfulness meditation may be possible - which might include a dropping away of ego and ego attachments, a realization of spirit, and a true sense of being.
There are some problems with the organization of this set. With the title "Jewels of the Lotus - Tibetan Gemstone Oracle," I personally had expected a deck of cards based on Tibetan Buddhist spiritual concepts, or inspired by a specifically Tibetan approach to healing and crystals. Although certain Tibetan Buddhist elements are present, such as the "dorje" or lightning bolt, and the Tibetan mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" (which decorates the back of every card), there seems to be little real influence from Tibetan Buddhism. Some of the inspiration comes from Thich Nhat Hanh, who is a Zen Buddhist from Vietnam. While his core teachings are similar to Tibetan Buddhism, they are of significantly different religious schools. The inclusion of wisdom based on his teachings is fine here, and it works nicely - Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings on Buddhism are particularly accessible. But it is a little misleading. Also confusing is that the chakra system used for card correspondences is the more familiar Vedic, not the Tibetan. The title of the set comes from the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum," which translates literally as "jewel in the lotus," or "Behold! The jewel is in the lotus!" It is a nice title and catchy, describing the pictures on the cards quite literally and the purpose of the cards metaphorically, but it does not completely reflect the set's contents. This oracle expresses a distinctly American point of view - an approach that draws heavily upon a diverse number of established traditions.
All this being considered, the deck is still quite wonderful and lovely. There is a sweet potency to the cards - the drawings are very pretty, with a certain innocence, and the photos of the crystals on each card are beautiful, fully showing color, brightness, and texture. The book offers a very good amount of explanatory material, introducing novices to methods of working with crystals for holistic and spiritual health (including rituals for cleansing, reflexology, and distance healing), and sharing joy, love, and wisdom. There are nine card layouts, which emphasize spiritual healing, finding balance in relationships, understanding the role of prosperity in our lives, and grounding before meditation practice. These layouts are unique and enjoyable, and work very well with the cards.
I have truly enjoyed using the Jewels of the Lotus, and have learned from it, as well as healed from it. I have also used the cards in readings for family members, and it has been appealing and accessible to all. Everyone I have read for with the Jewels of the Lotus has gotten something good out of these cards. I think that is the most important aspect of this set . the healing wisdom of the crystals themselves, of these beautiful gifts of the Earth, is the true essence.
These scans are really clipped - the cards have a larger border than shown.
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Card artwork by Pat Gullett
All writing and photography © N Levine - Illumination Tarot, unless otherwise noted. 1999-2020