You are you. This is your path.
These two affirmations serve as my initial foray into the Inner Compass Cards, a deck of 49 cards created by the Dutch writer, spiritualist and entrepreneur Neel van Lierop. After collecting and distilling the deck’s 49 themes, van Leirop met designer Anneliek Holland, who brought the themes to life visually, and worked with editor Larissa Quaak on the accompanying guidebook that unpacks the deeper significance of each symbol and word.
Initially written and conceived in van Leirop’s native Dutch, the small but mighty team launched their Kickstarter page in the spring of 2017 with Dutch and English translations. Within a month, the support was so immediately overwhelming, they had almost tripled their initial funding goal when the campaign closed. Over the last two years, the deck’s status has begun to grow, as plenty of other divination techniques — particularly, the similarly card-based format of tarot — have springboarded into mainstream consciousness.
As someone who was raised in the Evangelical Christian church — and now hangs out with a bunch of witches — the potential barriers that upbringing or beliefs can raise when it comes to accessing spiritual tools is very clear to me. Ancient practices like tarot and palmistry, or even the use of crystals, carry cultural and historical baggage that can block some practitioners from fully engaging. I’ve always thought it was sad that some of my friends who would probably benefit from tarot the most are unable to engage with the form due to their own preconceptions about how that deck’s archetypes will manifest.
That perspective is what makes me supremely thankful for a modern, intuitive tool like the Inner Compass Cards. The concepts aren’t overly spiritual, and the deck uses more accessible, psychological and contemporary terminology (see: the Goddamn card) to address the same principles that tarot and plenty of other intuitive tools seek to engage with. The deck is beautiful and the writing is full of gentle revelations that spark action, not shame. Any spiritual tool that takes me out of avoidance and back into a place of action is a welcome one in my life.
Even for those who don’t consider themselves spiritual or religious, the desire to look to an intuitive source is overpowering at times; it’s a part of human nature, an element of existence we are naturally drawn to access, especially at crossroads or in times of turmoil. The deck’s strong reliance on interconnectedness also means that drawing more than one card at a time, or playing around with sequencing, only allows the practitioner to go deeper within themselves and their emotional excavation.
Culled from eclectic belief systems like maya mythology, Taoism, Buddhism and the i ching, there is no overarching deity or sacred framework put forth, other than more intimate communion with the self. After a few days shuffling the supple, minimalist cards back and forth in my hands, drawing single or series readings (past, present, future, etc), and poring over the sage little guidebook, I began to understand why Neel, refers to herself as the “the messenger of universal wisdom.”
These principles of conflict, expression, negotiation, and meditation are inside all of us, if we can still the mind and begin to dwell on the things that matter most to us. Perusing the deck is simply another means or method of stilling the mind, and opening it to the innate wisdom inside all of us. Stumbling upon a tool like this right as I was going through the process of founding my own publication was the kind of kismet that decks like this burn on, and the light it’s brought me in just a short time has already illuminated so many areas I’d been avoiding.
There are so many phrases we use in daily life to help guide people back to themselves: Trust your gut. Go with your intuition. Look inside yourself. Listen to the small, still voice. For my own inventory, I’ve begun to add: You are you. This is your path. So instead of resenting it when challenges, steep parts, or rock screes are part of the road ahead, I can incorporate even these as an affirmation of myself. I’m right where I need to be.
Get the Inner Compass Cards here.