Today I was going through the book for my Tarot deck, The Shining Tribe in preparation for two exciting developments–an iphone app, and a full scale printing of the “Art Deck” version we’ve been selling as a limited edition of 78 copies (over half sold so far).
As I looked at the intro I was reminded of the origin myth I created for the deck, and for the Tarot in general. I make no claim for the historical accuracy of this story. It’s exactly that, a story. I do hope that it will say something meaningful about Tarot and the way doing readings connects us to the spirit world and to each other.
Here is the story, quoted from the book for Shining Tribe Tarot.
The earliest humans knew the Spirits as seven bright figures of golden light and gleaming darkness. They appeared to those most ancient of ancestors all over the world and were known everywhere as the Shining Tribe.
They could be seen emerging from the walls of caves at night, or in the sky where they outshone the stars. They helped humans understand fire, and what plants to eat, and how to make tools, and how to skin the animals they killed.
Their greatest gift came when they touched certain people with the power to see and understand the world as a parade of images and stories. Inspired by the Shining Tribe, people began to paint on rock and cave walls–magnificent bulls and horses, vibrant people with heads of pure light, bird-headed women, even abstract symbols that would carry wisdom to new generations.
Those whom the Spirits touched themselves carried the radiance of words and knowledge. They became the seers and journeyers and they shone with truth. Though they did not leave their families they too became part of the Shining Tribe.
Many centuries passed. The original images, once alive, hardened into doctrines and rigid rules. The radiance had drained from them. The Spirits decided to give the images in a new way, one that would preserve their purity and at the same time draw people even more deeply into them.
They came to creative humans while they slept and breathed their radiance into the humans’ dreams. Inspired, those people took old images from many sources and placed them on cards.
You could do many things with the cards–play a game, teach lessons, memorize information, code ideas, tell stories, learn about the very structures of existence–even predict the future. Most of all, you actually could use them as doorways back to the Spirits themselves.
And they could never be corrupted, because the Spirits had inspired people in different places and different times, so that there was no single set of images with absolute doctrines, and no matter how many people set out theories about the cards and their meanings, the pictures themselves would always dance away, ready to accept the next person to approach with openness and love of the images.
Those who use the cards to enter the sacred world receive the radiance of the Spirits. They themselves become the Shining Tribe of diviners.
This deck is my small gift to that tribe, through all their generations and in all cultures.