November/December 2016 / Gift Guide Issue
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Review of Shaman Tarot
This article was written by Barbara Moore on November 30, -0001
The Shaman Tarot recreates the shamanic experience introducing you to dancing, journeying, and healing. By inviting you into the other-realms, the Shaman Tarot opens your mind and spirit to all that is and all that can be. You will meet beings of greater wisdom than you can ever imagine. They are all here, in these cards and in your soul.
The Shaman Tarot really is a rare piece of work. Many Tarot decks are created by marrying a theme with the structure of a Tarot deck, and those decks achieve varying degrees of success. With the Shaman Tarot, it feels as we have indeed entered the shaman’s experience. For most of us the different plane exist separately. For the shaman, they are all part of a whole. And so it is with this deck.
Let me explain. But first let me say this: this deck does not claim to represent each and every type of shamanism ever practiced or even any type of shamanism. It is an overview of shamanism in general. Do not depend on a Tarot deck to teach you a serious spiritual practice that takes years of training and perhaps even an innate gift, alright? Good.
You know that part of these reviews discuss whether a deck follows the Rider-Waite-Smith tradition or not. Usually it is pretty easy to tell. And generally speaking, a deck either does or it doesn’t follow that tradition. This deck is a bit different. For those who know the RWS images and have a good portion of intelligence and imagination, these cards (although renamed and reimagined) will resonate with the RWS tradition. I am speaking here of the Major Arcana cards (the Minors are quite different). This doesn’t happen at first glance, but after a moment’s consideration followed by an "a-ha!" moment. However, for those who are more at a novice level or those who don’t enjoy nuances and subtleties, this deck will not feel much like a RWS.
The nuts and bolts of the deck are this: The cards themselves lack words of any sort. The Major Arcana have only Roman numerals. The numbered pips have a suit designator and number. The court cards also have a suit designator as well as a rank designator.
In the booklet, the Majors are all renamed to reflect the shamanic experience of the world: The Ancestral Shaman, The Seeker of Souls, Initiation, Healing, The Dance of the Sun.
The suits of the Shaman Tarot are not Pentacles, Cups, Swords, and Wands. The booklet explains that, in this deck, Drums are Earth/Pentacles, Bows are Air/Swords, Bones are Fire/Wands, and Stones are Water/Cups. This is the one mistake I think is made in this otherwise excellent package. I think it is somewhat confusing to say that the suits of the Shaman Tarot correspond to the suits of a RWS-type deck. It sets the mind up to expect Drums to be earthy, Stones to be watery, etc. But really each of the suits in the Shaman Tarot represent their own aspect of the shaman’s journey and should be presented as such rather than trying to shoehorn it into a template. Because these suits are, in and of themselves, quite complete.
Each card in Drums represents the steps that are necessary for a shaman to take part in the Dance—the dance of life, the ecstatic movements that let the shaman connect with the spirit world. This is not necessarily a traditionally "earthy" or pentacle-type experience.
The cards in the suit of Bows tell the story of the Voyage, the detachment of the shaman’s spirit from his or her body in order to travel to and in the spirit world.
Bones illustrate the idea of shamanic combat. A shaman’s life is filled with danger. He or she combats him or herself. Dangerous or inappropriate spirits sometimes must be fought in the quest for wisdom.
The suit of Stones represent the results of a shaman’s endeavors: the healing of the middle world and the re-establishing of its harmony with the spirit world.
This deck can be easily readable by anyone who takes the time to read through the booklet while referencing the cards. While different in many ways from the RWS, it is not very difficult to learn. As for how it works as a reading deck…I think it’ll be one of those "your mileage may vary" situations. For me, I liked this deck for shorter spreads or even one card draws. Longer spreads were too visually complicated for me. There is much wisdom in these cards and they can help you see more aspects of levels of your journey than you ever imagined.
Name of deck: Shaman Tarot
Publisher: Lo Scarabeo
Creator’s name: Massimiliano Filadoro
Brief biography of creator: Creator of the Yoga Tarot, the Tarot of Metamorphosis, and the Universal Tarot.
Artists’ names: Sabrina Ariganello and Alessia Pastorello
Name of accompanying booklet: Shaman Tarot
Number of pages of booklet: 63 (14 in English)
Authors of booklet: Massimiliano Filadoro
Available in a boxed kit?: No
Magical Uses: Pathworking
Reading Uses: General, karma, spiritual
Artistic Style: Illustration
Theme: Shamanic practices
Tarot, Divination Deck, Other: Tarot
Does it follow Rider-Waite-Smith Standard?: Basically (see review)
Does it have extra cards?: No
Does it have alternate names for Major Arcana cards?: Yes. Each of the Majors has been changed to show the RWS archetype through a shamanic lens.
Does it have alternate names for Minor Arcana suits?: Yes:
Drums = Earth/Pentacles
Bows = Air/Swords
Bones = Fire/Wands
Stones = Water/Cups
Does it have alternate names for the Court Cards?: No, but they each have a shamanic name in addition to their regular court name.
Alternative decks you might like:
Native American Tarot
Tarot of the Druids
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