Tarot of the Southwest Sacred Tribes by Violeta Monreal
Review by Valerie Sim-Behi

This is part of a larger article on Tarot and the Shaman

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This deck was done as an artistic tribute to the tribes of the American Southwest and the deck’s creator states: "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." It is this approach--via art rather than via a pictorial social commentary--that makes this deck less bothersome to me than is the Native American Tarot deck reviewed earlier.

In sticking to one geographical region, Ms. Monreal is able to get a feel for this series of similar cultures rather than illustrating cards with gross cultural errors and misconceptions. The suits are as follows: Wands are illustrated with Hopi clubs, Cups feature Pueblo pottery, Swords are Apache ceremonial swords, and Coins show Navajo sand paintings. She also studiously avoids analyzing Native American spirituality, which is another faux pas made by the author of  the Native American Tarot.

The art is excellent and is painted in an appropriate palette of Southwestern colors: lots of oranges, reds, browns, blues, and tans. The artist has a nice style and uses vivid color to emphasize the Majors, which are brighter overall than the Minor cards.

There is no mistaking the fact that this is a Rider-Waite clone. Cards like the Three of Wands, Eight of Cups, and Eight of Swords even use the same physical postures as their RWS predecessors. This makes the deck immediately usable to anyone with any experience with Rider-Waite, though I prefer decks that at least attempt a new spin on conventional illustrations.

As mentioned earlier in this series, just because a deck has a Native American theme does not mean it is a "shamanic" deck. This is a pretty deck, even the backs are lovely, but it has little to offer the Shaman.

See more card images here.

Read another review of the Tarot of the Southwest American Tribes by Michele Jackson here.

If you would like to purchase this deck, click here.

Tarot of the Southwest American Tribes by Violeta Monreal
Publisher: US Games Inc.
ISBN#: 0-88079-425-9

Valerie Sim-Behi is the founder and moderator of Comparative Tarot, an email list devoted to studying cards of different decks  in comparison to each other.   She has worked with the tarot for over 30 years.  Valerie created a spread that will appear in the book accompanying the Victoria-Regina Tarot by Sarah Ovenall, and has written various articles, including one on the Comparative Tarot method that will be published in Llewellyn's Tarot Calendar 2002.  You can visit Valerie at the Comparative Tarot websiteValerie wants to offer special thanks to Leah Pugh, Scanner Goddess for this series.

Review © 2001 Valerie Sim-Behi
Page © 2001 Diane Wilkes
Images © 1996 US Games Publishing










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