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:
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:
“Die Indianer Nord Americas, die kompletten Portfolios.
Here, on page 209 we find our Shaman.
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…..