Saturday, 7 June 2014

She opens her arms - The World in Shining Tribe Tarot

Shining Tribe Tarot by Rachel Pollack (Llewellyn 2001)

Back in 2010, we visited Glastonbury and I discovered a shop called The Speaking Tree. There I found a shelf of reduced-price decks and was very excited to see that Rachel Pollack, who I knew from her books on the Haindl Tarot, had a deck! Shining Tribe, for £7. I bought it.

What a weird deck it was to me, based on cave art and rendered in a very primitive style. The book was really excellent but the cards did not speak to me, so after about a year of it sitting untouched, I traded it for something (I have no idea what).

I haven't really thought about the deck much since. I later bought 78 Degrees of Wisdom, which focuses on RWS, and then Tarot Wisdom, which talks more about Shining Tribe. I felt a small pang that I didn't have the deck. Then Rachel appeared at the UK Tarot Conference in 2012 -- I was enthralled. She talked more about her Shining Tribe Tarot. I felt a small twinge of regret for getting rid of it. But...c'est la vie is my motto to things of the past. I don't find it difficult to let go.

Then a few weeks ago, I managed to get a copy of Forest of Souls, which uses Shining Tribe Tarot almost exclusively, and I really started to long for the deck. I thought about the shop where I'd bought it, where the deck had been displayed on the shelf, and how much I paid for it. I thought it would be a small miracle to find it ever again, but I couldn't help feeling that I would. I could see myself walking into the shop and finding it.

So last Friday we went to Glastonbury, and when we finally went into the Speaking Tree, I scanned the wall and -- there it was. In exactly the same place. Priced at exactly the same price - £7. I grabbed it and tucked it under my arm. The Universe has returned it to me. :) It is staying firmly in my collection.

And the very first card I pull with it this week is Shining Woman -- The World!

The card makes me think of the electric power of the human body, and also of the spirit body within. The figure is literally shining, and surrounded by many layers of aura. Her body is made up of symbols -- her whole head become the third eye, an eagle in flight is her heart, her breasts become the spirals of the cycle of life, down her arms are two snakes reminding me of kundalini power. Her genitalia branch upward into a tree, the roots her vulva. Down her legs are turtle, fish, and cryptic drawings (the book describes them as 'stone circles and tombs'and a prehistoric design reminiscent of the Christian cross). There are many symbols of flesh and spirit in this design.

If you prop the card up before you and meditate upon it, you begin to feel luminous yourself. I know I began to get images of nature, and to imagine the boundaries of my body thinning and my being seemed to begin to fade into deeper harmony with things. As I then closed my eyes and focused them up toward the brow, I felt as if a brilliant white light lit up there. A lovely experience.

She knows all the stories.
She gives shelter to turtles.
She opens her arms.
She shimmers with laughter.

These enigmatic lines appear in the companion book. Every card gets four lines as the opening to the entry for the card. They are poetic statements about the essence of the card. They are extremely evocative, and really cannot be improved upon. Don't try to analyze them, just read them a few times and let all the images that come to mind wash over you. Close your eyes and let them tumble. So many images of goddess, spirit and self, so many women you know, and so many men with this energy. The lines fill me with joy.

So does the image.


  1. interesting cards, i am sure. definitely not my style, but you seem to have been pointed right to them. they are meant for you. can't wait to see what you blog about with them this week.

  2. What a magical experience!

  3. Totally agree, I've had some incredible experiences meditating with these cards. Although the artwork doesn't appeal to me aesthetically, the depth to these simple images is amazing. As Bridgett says, looking forward to this week! :)

  4. Replies
    1. This one in particular is glorious. But yes, I have come to appreciate this deck in a way I guess I wasn't ready for the first time I bought it.

  5. I love it when things are obviously meant to be. :) I agree with Inner Whispers. The artwork overall doesn't appeal to me, I don't think I could cope with a spread-full of them, but looking at the individual cards you've posted recently, I find them very emotive and powerful.

    1. I think once you get used to them, a full spread would be doable. I don't much like big spreads, though. :)