Artist: Rachel Pollack
Author: Rachel Pollack
Book and Cards Set
Publication date: March 2001
View Sample Cards
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The Shining Tribe Tarot is a slightly revised and renamed version of the out-of-print Shining Woman tarot deck, with an expanded (330 page) reference book. The original deck was named after the "Shining Woman" card (its "World" card), but Pollack reports in her introduction to the revised edition that the "Shining Woman" name made many think that the deck was aimed at women.
Personally, I think the new name fits this deck much better. The images on the cards are inspired by Stone Age rock art, Native American art, Australian Aboriginal art, and similar "primitive"/tribal sources. While the deck is firmly based in the traditional tarot, it does not look very traditional at first glance. The suits have been renamed. Instead of wands, cups, swords, and pentacles, the Shining Tribe deck has trees, rivers, birds, and stones. Each suit has four "vision cards" (place, knower, gift, and speaker) instead of four court cards. Two cards of the major arcana have completely different names (Tradition for the Heirophant and Awakening for Judgement) and several others have slightly different names.
The artwork can best be described as primitive. I've heard it described as enlightened by those who like the deck and as kindergarten art by those who don't. The cards are interesting and fairly symbolic, whether one likes the primitive style of art or not is a matter of personal taste. It doesn't do a lot for me, but I know people who love it. One thing I like about this deck is that the people on the cards are of multiple races. Like my fellow reviewer, Symitar, I get tired of seeing decks where every person is caucasian. Such decks don't resemble my neighborhood, let alone the world.
The book that comes with this deck is truly excellent, as one might expect from an author of Rachel Pollack's experience and award-winning caliber. She has a number of tarot books to her credit (including the classic 78 Degrees of Wisdom) and it really shows in the book. Reading the Shining Tribe book really makes me wish I liked the artwork on this deck better. Pollack makes the material interesting. Reading the book makes it clear that she knew what she was doing when she designed this deck.
The Shining Tribe Tarot is one of those decks that most people will either love or hate on flipping through the cards. If you are into shamanism or like primitive/tribal art, you will probably want to strongly consider picking up a copy the Shining Tribe deck. Even if you aren't, the deck is at least worth a look if you see it in the store. You might just like it.
Reviewed by Randall