on August 30, 2003
If you find the wide assortment of Tarot decks confusing, you might want to consider working with materials prepared by Rachel Pollack. If you have a relatively novel understanding of Tarot, a Christian or Jewish background, and limited exposure to ethnographic concepts, Pollack's 78 DEGREES OF WISDOM is the place to begin your studies. Then take up her SHINING TRIBE. Pollack's 78 DG uses the Waite pack which is about 100 years old and based on decks from the early middle ages. The Waite iconography is Judeo-Christian and very Western (Joseph Campbell and some of his followers uncovered connections that predate the Judeo-Christian).
The ST deck includes icons, motifs, etc. from around the world and as far back as the Neolithic (or further). Pollack's ideas seem quite right to me. I find an amazing connection between the painted and sculpted works from all over the world and the Tarot. But that is exactly what makes Tarot so amazing. No matter what belief system you "recognize" the information is in the cards.
For example, look at the Ace of Stones. Pollack substitutes Stones for Pentacles, which have also appeared as disks and coins. All are symbolic of earth or material reality. The Ace of Stones is an obelisk-like object in Pollack's ST. The obelisk can be found in ancient Egypt and on the Mall in Washington DC. (It's not terribly surprising that a penis-shaped rock should be named after the father of our country.) Pollack says the upright stones that can be found many places, including Stonehenge, form a connecting line with the earth, a vertical axis running from the world under our feet to the world of the spirits over our heads. The upright stone is known asa lingam (phallus of Shiva) in India. (You may recall Indiana Jones association with the lingam?). The Ace of Stones symbolizes connectedness, creative power, long-lasting achievement. Surprise, surprise. On the other hand, maybe you should go straight for the SHINING TRIBE. (THE SHINING TRIBE is not a reprint of the earlier THE SHINING WOMAN Tarot. The new Tarot is more universal than the older version per Pollack.)
on June 17, 2004
It was inevitable that a tarot mistress such as Rachel Pollack would create her own tarot deck. She did so with the Shining Woman tarot. She revised the deck and renamed it The Shining Tribe. This is a powerful deck and a powerful work of art. The images are influenced by shamanistic traditions around the world. The art is reminiscent of Native American and Aboriginal Australian images. The images of the card are especially lovely. My favorites are the shining woman, the ace of trees and spiral of fortune. The deck is very earth spirituality centered and uses images from nature such as stones, trees and birds. As with all of Pollack's works I strongly recommend it.