We are having a string of beautiful, sunny spring days here in New England with high pressure and warming temperatures. Driving along the roads, one can discern a slight tinge of difference in the color of the tops of the tree branches—which announces the leaf buds getting ready to “pop” into new life, stretching out new chartreuse-colored leaves to soak up all that sunlight.
The brothers at the priory are having their monthly retreat days, and since I had a friend in Massachusetts who recently lost a job and is going through some soul searching, I went down to visit him and take him on a short road trip—simply to get out of town, clear our heads, and explore someplace new.
Neither of us had ever been to Northampton, Massachusetts—the town central to several colleges and universities including Smith College and Amherst College. So that’s where we went. And it was brilliant. Such a lovely area and vibrant with young people and a diversity of shopping and ethnic food restaurants. The WEBS yarn store is located there, and since both my friend and I are knitters it was high on our list of places to visit. The store just happened to be having their anniversary sale, so we made out like bandits. I also had a wonderful and pleasant conversation with one of the store employees who helped me find a particular brand of yarn I was looking for, and she explained to me exactly how massive the operations of the business were… The online warehouse and distribution center were in a completely different complex in nearby Easthampton, Massachusetts, and that location also transported supplies to the retail location to restock several times per day! To have seen and witnessed the impressive size of the retail operations and storage building, it was almost hard to fathom that there was actually an even bigger facility somewhere complimentarily expanding the entrepreneurship of the business.
There was also a locally-owned crystal/esoteric shop very close to Smith College with a small carousel of tarot decks. It was a good selection with some popular contemporary choices, several of which were decks that I own or recommend. I think I spun the carousel around at least three times, making sure I caught sight of everything, before my eyes laid on a red box on the carousel’s foot shelf…
Rachel’s Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot! GAH!!!
First, you have to know that I had been looking for this deck for years. The Shining Way Tarot is a re-publication/reprinting of Pollack’s original Shining Woman Tarot, renamed in order to attract a more gender-egalitarian audience. It was republished in 2001 as the Shining Tribe Tarot, and seemed to quickly sell out. There wasn’t a second printing or continued printing run as far as I can tell, because for a long time the deck could not be found in stores, wasn’t order-able, and even places like Amazon seemed perpetually out-of-stock.
…So to find a copy in a progressive town where I would have expected it to have been snatched-up quickly, seemed like providence, or a super-extra bonus prize, or the luckiest day ever!! I have since looked up availability on Amazon and discovered that there are a few being sold by independent vendors, but that there are still none in stock from the publisher (Llewellyn Worldwide) itself. Llewellyn is a premier—and great—tarot deck publisher, and one wonders why additional reprintings of this particular deck weren’t produced, since Rachel Pollack is arguably considered one of the greatest tarot masters alive and is recognized internationally as such. Who knows… There are a million reasons why publishers make the decisions that they do. Frankly, the low availability makes the deck more rare and more valuable, but sadly it leaves bereft the tarot enthusiast community from the wisdom and beauty that the deck has to offer. (Although no longer for me!)
I also consider Pollack to be a fantastic writer, and I have already been priviledged to have received enlightenment from the introduction of the deck’s accompanying book. The story of how I came to appreciate (and become desperately envious of) Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot is that she extensively references the deck in her book of tarot explorations and meditations: The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot (Llewellyn Publications, 2002). This isn’t your average tarot resource book; in fact, it’s not really a “teaching” or resource book at all. Rather, it’s Pollack’s manifesto on the possibilities of what the tarot can do and achieve and inspire. It’s a promenade through Pollack’s meditations on Wisdom, who and what God is, on Creation, on Divination, and a host of other themes explored through the revelations that the tarot has to reveal. It’s an example of the real potential of the tarot, and I can recommend it to any and all tarot enthusiasts.
Can’t wait to explore the world with this wonderful new deck. Look out, tarot readings, you’re in for a ride!