Friday, 28 November 2014

Shaman Tarot Overview

While very far from traditional RWS symbolism, the Shaman Tarot (Lo Scarabeo, 2010) still offers the potential for traditional interpretations in most cards.  Yet, it also offers very different, intuitive readings.  In this way, its structure echoes the images, which blend modern living with shamanism through the ages, and which are filled with spirit animals.

The deck also renames all the suits.  Wands become Skulls, Cups become Crystals (a little confusing at first, but they are blue crystals), Swords are changed to Bows, and Pentacles are represented by Drums.  The cards buck the old Lo Scarabeo multi-lingual practice, just having Roman numerals for the Majors, and numbers and symbols for the Minors. This gives them quite a clean feel.

Moving to specific cards, Death shows what I see as a shaman dancing on the path to the Otherworld.  He knows that everyone must walk this path eventually, and while he will protect the souls he can, he will act as psychopomp or guide for those he can't.  And in that case, he will also be there to support those left behind through their grieving process.

The Page of Drums (Pentacles) is a far gentler character.  Just starting out on his path, he practises drumming his way into an altered state of awareness.  The ruins about him suggest his modernity, despite his dress, and also point to the long tradition of shamanism in many parts of the world.  Our Page is just the latest in a long line.

The Ace of Bows (Swords) shows us a nocked arrow drawn back from a tightly strung bow, ready to take flight.  It is aimed up into the dark sky, over mountains.  Our ideas and words can travel far, and clear confusion and uncertainty with their passage.

As for the Four of Bows (Swords), here we see the mix of Western and traditional imagery.  A man lies abed, with two older men seeming to tend him.  His face is filled with fear, and over him we see spirits, fiery and awful.  Is this the man's shamanic vision as he fights through his own sickness to be initiated as a healer?  Or does he simply need to rest before taking up his everyday battles again?

I want to take a look at the Courts in a bit more detail, too, as they can sometimes make or break a deck for a reader.  Personally, I think they work well.  Here, for example, we have the whole Drums Court.  Pages are represented by a single feather, Knights by a simple horse carving.  Queens 'wear' a bone and tooth necklace, while Kings have a multi-feathered headdress.  The Pages are all male, men rather than boys, though youthful, while the Knights have three women and a child of indeterminate gender riding a snake for the Knight of Skulls.  As for our Knight of Drums, she rides her white buffalo with rather more verve than we might expect of this sometimes stodgy archetype.  Still, it is a buffalo, rather than some fleet-footed thoroughbred. The Queen is accompanied by a bear and her cub, an association also found in the Wildwood.  And the King looks suitably powerful and grounded, wearing a buffalo head mask and holding a peace pipe.

Overall, I find this a very readable deck.  The Courts work well, and the artwork is attractive.  I also find it a useful deck for those interested in shamanic practices, for meditating and pathworking, and for readings around healing. 

6 comments:

  1. I really like Lo Scarabeo's new way of using Roman numerals for the majors and symbols and numbers for the minors. It is a very clean look!

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    1. It's interesting the different patterns they go through. I also really like their non-border look this year :)

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  2. I love the queen with her animals. Although I am not a fan of mixing time periods in one deck. I do think this is quite a readable and attractive deck to work with

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    1. Yes, there are a lot of beautiful animals in this deck. As for the different time periods, I see them suggesting that these experiences and archetypes are universal... :)

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  3. This looks quite appealing through your eyes, Chloe! :) Not sure I'll get it... it's still a 'maybe' for me but thanks for sharing!

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    1. The artwork is a style that appeals to me, and I love the strong women and the animal spirit guides. I can imagine you working well with it, Lisa, but then again, you work well with many decks :)

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