The Shining Tribe Tarot

March 30, 2008 § 3 Comments

I was recently given the Shining Tribe Tarot as a gift. I got a sudden, unexplainable hankering for it after reading The Forest of Souls – no idea why – and a forum friend had a copy they weren’t using so they very generously let me have it. Here are some of my favourite cards so far:


It’s a highly unusual deck. Looking through it, I’d be hard pushed to identify most of the cards if the titles weren’t there. The images are unconventional and in some cases not even that attractive, but they have a naive charm and are chock-a-block full of symbolism. I thought it would be difficult to read with but my first reading went very smoothly. Granted, it’s the only reading I’ve done so far, but it was six cards and it didn’t feel like hard work at all. Strange as it may sound, the images seem to bristle with energy and I read by following the movement of this energy from one card to another – the movement being depicted in lines and spirals and other similar formations. Although there’s a lot of symbolism, it’s very simple, natural symbolism and therefore quite easy to create meaning from it.

Several of the cards have been renamed. In the majors, the Hierophant is named Tradition, the Wheel of Fortune is the Spiral of Fortune, The Hanged Man becomes The Hanged Woman, and Judgement is called Awakening. This card in particular reminded me of the film ‘The Lady in the Water’ which I saw around the same time as I was reading Forest of Souls. If you’ve seen the film, hopefully you’ll know what I mean. I was going to explain it here but it’s quite complicated and I haven’t got the stamina.

The suits have also been renamed, in line with nature and the elements. So Wands are Trees, Cups are called Rivers, Swords are Birds and Pentacles/Coins are Stones.

The court cards are very unusual. In fact, they’re not really court cards at all and Rachel Pollack calls them ‘vision cards’. Instead of Page, Knight, Queen and King (or the usual variations on that theme) they are called Place, Knower, Gift and Speaker. I quite like the method she’s used here. Many people struggle to interpret the court cards in readings and so, by de-personifying them, Pollack has cut straight to the essence of each card. Here’s an explanation in her own words (from the Shining Tribe Tarot book) which I’m sure makes more sense:

“The Vision cards also teach us more directly about the elements than the numbers [numbered minor arcana cards], for their theme is understanding and using the power each element can give to us. … We can interpret them for their separate meanings, but we can also follow them (through such techniques as meditation or guided visualization) to gain the wisdom and gifts of the elements.”

For example, in the reading I did a couple of weeks ago (for someone else), I drew the Place of Trees in the position of “Gift”. I described it as a playground or creative sandbox. Here’s what I wrote:

“This card represents an environment – a state of mind or an actual place – where we feel safe and nurtured and able to grow and play. You have a safe place in which to test many of your ideas, without risk to yourself – as long as you can operate within the given boundaries. Use it to play and experiment.”

§ 3 Responses to The Shining Tribe Tarot

  • cathepsut says:

    What a funky deck! I especially like the 6 of trees and 2 of birds. But theiy are probably quite a challeneg to interpret…?

  • archertarot says:

    They can be tricky at times. I’ve had some readings which seemed to flow effortlessly, and others which made no sense at all. But I get that with most of my decks and the times they make no sense usually coincide with times I’m feeling particularly dense, or tired, or lazy 🙂

  • willow says:

    I love Forest of Souls, it’s one of my favorite Tarot books. In fact, I’m reading it again right now. I’ve learned so much from Rachel Pollack, and this book is a great way of opening up your mind to see the Tarot in new ways.

    Shining Tribe is a very unusual deck. I think it’s lovely to look at, but I don’t know that I could read with it.

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