For Greenwood Fans:

I am always delighted to hear from all the Greenwood Tarot friends, that are finding this blog and that – with a little patience and a pair of sharp scissors – manage to create a private copy of the deck for themselves.

Since month now I have a little reminder on my desk, to post an interesting finding about one of the Greenwood cards, the Shaman:

shaman copy

See, I stumbled over the original image, that Cheska Potter used as inspiration for this enigmatic Arkana card

It is right here, in the book with all the photographs from Edward S. Curtis:

book Curtis

Die Indianer Nord Americas, die kompletten Portfolios.

Here, on page 209 we find our Shaman.

Arikara medicine Man

It is Bear’s Belly from the Arikara Nation. The sub text translates as:

>>A member of the brotherhood of the Medicine men, wrapped in his sacred Bear fur<<

In our Greenwood study group on Aeclectic Tarot are 3 pages of posts about the card.

We were wondering just how the rather strange top/ tip of the head cam to be in the image. Now, looking at the original inspiration for the image, it is quit clear, that yes, the Shaman is wearing the Bear fur. The Bear was skinned in one whole piece and then the pelt was slit open from the underside of the neck to the middle of the belly to allow its wearer to slip inside.

The top is the dried up head and muzzle of the bear. Its ears should be approximately, where the Shaman’s ears are. Very important, because a Bears hearing is excellent.

I encourage you all to check out the Greenwood Study group and maybe – hopefully contribute to it 🙂

Recently added info:

Bear Medicine is the Medicine of the Healer Shaman, the one who can ward off sickness and scare away the Spirits of illness. That is not only so among most all indigenous tribes in North America, but also all over Siberia (among my own people for example!) and most likely also in Palaeolithic Europe.
Evidence has been found that Bear bones – mostly from cave Bears were used by the Neanderthal People to create ritual objects like percussion instruments and flutes and it was Bear grease, that was mixed with red ochre to create the sacred body paints of which traces were found in Neanderthal graves and artefact sites.
In places the DNA from Cave Bears could be found!
In my tribe (Uryanchai – north Eastern Tuva) Bear was seen as the Guardian against all the “unpleasant Spirits- Albis and boks, benge’es and so on, that show up from the East – from the uncertain future, that we all hope to see, but that at times has a rather nasty surprise waiting for us. Bear Was one of the Creator Spirits, the Sacred ones that lived amongst the Stars. But to prevent all the “Nasties” from wrecking havoc among the living – Animals, Humans and Plants on of the Sacred ones had to come down to the “middle Realm ” = Mother Earth and keep watch and swat them away. So Ee’ren Adik, the Spirit of BEAR decided to take corporeal form and do the job. All Bears are under his lordship and his physical representatives. If someone gets sick, my great grandmother – and now me, we put them onto a Bear fur for the curing ritual, which includes red Ochre and ground turquoise made into a paste using Bear grease. …..
That is similar to what some Native Americans here do.
The Haudenosaunee for example have all their healers from the Bear Clan and often the Bear Clan Sachem leads our Longhouse proceedings.
Among many tribes, the touch of the Bear claws away the illness and brings healing, so a Bear paw, just even drawn, is powerful.
There would be numerous more examples, see the Siberian Bear Paw glove……
There is a lot more, I could write…..

Siberian Bear Claw Glove


Me, cards and divination

My grandmother Elizza (1869 to 1956)Was a Manoush Gypsy and used to read Tarot with her original Soprafino deck. Remembering seeing this deck when I was a little girl and looking at the old worn out frayed cards together with my mother and her cousin, my “Aunty”is ultimately, what later brought me to Tarot.

Read more about that part here:

However, I grew up in the shamanic worldview of my father’s Siberian ancestry where divination was an integral part of working with clients, but divination cards were not used. One had Sheep’s knuckles and Horse hairs of different length and colours and a bag with small divinatory items, each having a specific meaning and being a tangible mnemonic of a shamanic teaching or tribal lore.

So that is, what I had. Then I went to university and became a member of a Peyote lodge of the Native American Church and divination was set into relation with things and events on “saw” in visions and trance journeys and of course meaningful coincidences in and with Nature, especially Animals Birds, Plants, clouds and rocks.

Then there was a time of travelling, where my then boyfriend – now hubby of 30 years – travelled in our VW bus around North America visiting sights and our Native friends, made jewellery on the road and sold it on markets and fairs….

I still vividly remembering the Tarot reader “Solaya” in Key West’s Mallory Square reading with , what i then assumed were the “wrong” cards. It was a standard RWS deck – but I did not know, that I did not know that….:(

Then there was “die GrÄfin” = the Countess, a lady, who was very snub-nosed and knew everything much better than everyone else… She read with a Thoth deck…

This is, how I learned, that there are different “modern” decks!

When we settled in Canada and our log home was all ready, I wanted a Tarot deck to honor my Grandma Elizza’s memory and heritage and to create a bit more balance in my life. I had in all these years always followed the shamanic path of my Father’s clan, and not paid much heed to my maternal Ancestors and their teachings.

And there was the conundrum: All the old decks, Marseille and what else I saw were, in terms of their imagery with the characters and the attire they wore, soooo very alien and removed from my inner life and my world view. I had felt that as a teen and it was the same now. I had a few Oracle decks and stuck to those for readings for self and others. They were all Nature and Animal related.

But then for Solstice, my hubby gave me the Native American Tarot from Maria Gonzales. OUPS!! :bugeyed:

I connected with the images, but there also were quite a few, that were stereotypical and “politically problematic”.

But for me the search was on. That was also made so much more fun, when Peter got a Computer! 🙂

Over the next few years I drifted through quite a few decks, working with each for about a year, always on the look out for the “right one”, but when it came to just reading I could use any deck and the “soul of the querent opened” .

I also made the observation, that some people, liked to come for a consultation and “input”, but were a bit scarrrred of my drums, Owl feathers and shamanic chants and found me reading “the Cards” for them less “strange” and it helped them to get to know me a little. And then, eventually they asked, if I could drum and chant for them and call my Animal Spirits and try to “see” …. whatever was wrong…..

Then I read the cards for a friend and subsequently taught her to read. She went on line, found AT and signed herself up and a year later signed me up too.

In spite of being on dial up my world exploded with Tarot decks 🙂

I think, that is so for most of us. Since then I have the habit of picking a new deck and working with it for a month or 2 and seeing, what it can teach me, what I can absorb form it that deepens my Tarot understanding.

I also gave teachings – about shamanism here in AT and then someone from here gave me a Geenwood deck as a Solstice present 🙂

That was The deck I had wanted to get, since first finding out about it.

It now is my main reading deck for clients and for personal readings.

See the Greenwood images and book here on this site:

Then of course there is my hand painted Ironwing deck.

Ironwing Spirit GuidesE size

It combines shamanism, art, Nature and metal smithing, the 4 mainstays of my life in 78 images 🙂