Native American Tarot

Deck by Magda and J.A. Gonzalez
© 1982 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

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Strength in
                Native American Tarot6 of Vessels in Native
                American Tarot8 of Pipes in
                Native American Tarot
                Wheel in Native American TarotChief of Blades in Native
                American TarotOne of
                Shields in Native American Tarot

Native American Tarot DeckThe cards of the Native American Tarot deck "depict life from a variety of Native American tribes including Apache, Arapaho, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Comanche, Hopi, Huron, Inuit, Iroquois, Kiowa, Navaho, Papago, Pima, Pueblo, Shawnee, Sioux, and more" . . . according to the information on the side of the card box.

The coloring of the cards consists of earthy tones with a lot of browns.  The art is nice enough, although not extravagant, and I have found my favorite Native American themed decks from other sources rather than this one.  However, this one was my first Native American themed deck, and so it's still a special one to me even if I did move on to others through my career in Tarot.

I am not a Native American history expert, and so I cannot vouch for the historical accuracy of these cards, but it has been said that perhaps all the various Native American tribes should not have been lumped together in one deck of cards.  I don't really mind this, but again, that is probably because I'm not an expert or a historian in this area.  It might matter to some, but not to others, depending on one's beliefs or preferences.

It has also been said that the deck is not culturally accurate in portraying some of the tribes.  Again, I don't know, since I have no expertise in any of these tribes.  But when I think of Native Americans in the way they lived long ago, I think of the peaceful tribes and how they lived, hunted, never wasted, and wanted peace.  I don't think of things like scalping or "Cowboys and Indians," or that sort of thing.

So whether it's all historically accurate or not, I think the author who is of Shawnee and Irish Heritage, had great intentions for this deck.  When I think of the combination of the tribes in one deck, I think of all nations, races, and tribes coming together in peace.  Granted, this is a lot like wishing there could be "world peace," I'm sure . . . but hey, we can always wish!  And we can always at least do our parts to create peace with our fellow mankind.

The suit names of this deck are naturally different from traditional Tarot in order to fit the Native American theme as follows:  Vessels (Cups), Pipes (Wands), Blades (Swords), and Shields (Pentacles).

The court cards are different as well, and they are Maiden (Page), Warrior (Knight), Matriarch (Queen), and Chief (King).  The LWB (little white booklet) that accompanies this deck is 105 pages and offers both upright and reversed card meanings.

                of the Native American TarotThere is also a 206-page book that was created for this deck, entitled "Star-Spider Speaks:  The Teachings of the Native American Tarot."  You can purchase the deck by itself, the book by itself, or the deck and book together as a set -- the latter being the best way to go, as you'll often save money to buy a deck/book set.

As it happens with the Native American Tarot deck, I had only the deck for a very long time, and then purchased the book in 2000.  I've found that having a book to go with a themed Tarot deck is a nice resource to have in order to more deeply explore why various things were chosen for a card, to learn about the history of the deck and the theme itself, and to gain a broader understanding of the cards overall.

You can usually do just fine not to have a book with a Rider-Waite-Smith cloned Tarot deck, but the Native American Tarot is definitely not a Rider-Waite-Smith clone.  It's a more non-traditional Tarot presentation with the theme of Native Americans.

From the back of the 206-page book, "Star-Spider Speaks:  The Teachings of the Native American Tarot:"

"The Native American Tarot deck is an expression of the Great Vision of Magda Weck Gonzalez, that is, Star-Spider Woman, as seen through the illustrations of J.A. Gonzalez, Rattling Bear.  The cards illustrate facets of Native American life from all over Turtle Island, now called America.

Star-Spider Speaks:  The Teachings of the Native American Tarot describes in detail the spiritual and artistic riches of Native America, as they are reflected on the cards of the Native American Tarot deck.  The lore and symbolism of each card is explored on an historical level, as well as on an artistic and spiritual level.  The path of the shaman is described, from its start with 0 The Fool to its triumphal finish at 21 The World.

Star-Spider Speaks also includes:

  • spreads created by Star-Spider Woman for the Native American Tarot deck;
  • visualization patterns, using the cards, for Love, Health, Prosperity, Contentment, Enlightenment, Wisdom, Justice and Abode;
  • a specific meditation for each Higher Arcana card;
  • relationships among the Higher Arcana cards;
  • correlations of other religions and symbols with the Higher Arcana cards.
Star-Spider Speaks both immerses the reader in Native American ways and expands traditional interpretations of the tarot.  It shows that the Native American Way is not a matter of blood or race, but of Vision.

"I see Rainbow Path as a blending of the ways of all peoples."
--Quote by Star-Spider Woman

Deck Details - Native American Tarot

Number of Cards in Deck: 78

Size of Cards:  2-3/8" x 4/38"

Included with deck: A 105-page booklet; Full book of 206 pages also available.

Major Arcana:   Fool, Hosteen Coyote, Corn Maiden, Medicine Woman, Council Chief, Shaman,
Lovers, Sled, Strength, Hermit, Medicine Wheel, Justice, Sun Dance, Death, Weaver, Devil, Tower,
Stars, Moon,Sun, Judgement, World

Suit Names:  Pipes (Wands), Vessels (Cups), Blades (Swords), Shields (Pentacles)

Court Cards:  Chief (King), Matriarch (Queen), Warrior (Knight), Maiden (Page)

Back Design of Cards:  Native
            American Tarot Card Back

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