Shining Tribe Tarot (the book) by Rachel Pollack                                   Review by Valerie Sim-Behi

This is part of a larger article on Tarot and the Shaman

"Shamanic Ecstasy"

This is a great book! It is full of tales to titillate the Shaman or any person with shamanic interests.

Beginning with the Fool, who appears pretty traditional at first glance, we already see a hint of things to come. This Fool is not stepping off the cliff, he is launching himself into shamanic flight.  As Ms. Pollack writes: "He follows the bird, and without any thought, he too begins to fly." Shamans the world over have "flown" via the senses of their power animals, and shamanic journeys frequently involve flying.

And now for the introduction to one of the most powerful and strongly shamanic cards in the deck:

"My dead mud body
burns with light.
Alive and dead and
Waiting for birds—
Blackened birds and birds of dawn,
Sharp-beaked birds with wings like knives"

How utterly descriptive of classic shamanic death-and-dismemberment! The card being described here is the Five of Birds.  I could explain the imagery of this card, but why not allow Ms. Pollack to do it herself: "Shamans will experience visions in which Spirits come and cut them up or boil away their bodies, exposing the bones that the Spirits change to crystal or fill with light. In the picture, we see this body of light shining through the ‘dead’ body that surrounds it. Light spreads out from the head, signifying understanding and self-knowledge. When the vultures take away the ordinary consciousness, the inner power will emerge."

This is a good description of such a shamanic experience. I would only add that in some cultures Shamans tend to dream of a power animal that likewise dismembers them, and as Ms. Pollack has noted, perception is not ended by such experience, but rather superior consciousness and enlightenment is obtained. This nuance of interpretation goes beyond the typical five of swords showing ruin, defeat, etc. Ms. Pollack continues with "we can offer the pain as a sacrifice to our own power and allow the process of healing to take away what has died in order to release the inner body of light."

The World card in this deck, appropriately called "The Shining Woman", is an image that is universal, timeless, mythic, shamanic and earthy. She dances in the universe, she is the universe; she is both woman and man, because she is Everyman/Everywoman in total completeness and perfection.

The images of myth adorn her body similarly to the tattooing found in many tribal cultures revolving around shamanistic beliefs. The symbols themselves are from cultures found round the world, in times both modern and ancient--- which is true of the symbolic and ancient nature of shamanism itself.

Shining Tribe Tarot by Rachel Pollack
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications
ISBN: 1-56718-532-0

Review © 2001 Valerie Sim-Behi
Images © 2001 Llewellyn Publishing
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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