Tarot of the Southwest Sacred Tribes                                                           Review by Michele Jackson

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The creator of this deck states that "The Tarot of the Southwest Sacred Tribes is a study of the tribes of the Southwest and their relationship to the Earth, as it is reflected in their art." The goal seems to have been to create the deck as an artistic tribute of sorts to the Native American culture and art as found in the tools of everyday life: clothing, pottery, baskets, rugs etc. The scenes are similar to the Waite-Smith scenes in most cases, particularly on the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana have the Waite-Smith titles. Strength is XI and Justice is VIII, though their sequence in the newly opened deck was VII, XI, IX, X, VIII, XII. The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Page. The suits are based on different tribal artifacts: Swords are based on Apache ceremonial swords, Wands on Hopi ceremonial clubs, Cups are based on Rio-Grande Pueblo pottery and Coins are based on Navajo medicine-man sand paintings. The artist states she drew her work from at least 57 nations. The Major Arcana are also assigned to one of the four groups described by the Minor Suits.

The art is good. The colors are an interesting mixture of bold, vivid solids and muted shading. The Majors are much brighter in appearance than the Minors, which are drawn on backgrounds of tans and grays. I really like the artists style and my only caveat on the art is that most of the faces have a sad or dour facial expression. The little booklet that comes with the deck gives a short background on what the artist was trying to achieve. She makes no pretense of of describing Native American Spirituality and makes it clear that she is sharing her interpretations of their art. The booklet provides short interpretations, which appear to be based on the Waite-Smith, and it provides the Celtic Cross Spread.

I would recommend this deck for those who are interested in Native American culture, and for collectors. I would like to see a book written for this deck explaining the source and meaning of some of the symbolism.

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Tarot of the Southwest Sacred Tribes
ISBN: 0-88079-425-9
Available from US Games Systems, 179 Ludlow St., Stamford CT, 06902 (800)544-2637, FAX (203)353-8431


This page is Copyright 1996/97 Michele Jackson