The Astrology Center of America, 207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272
Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave


The Shapeshifter Tarot

by D.J. Conway & Sirona Knight. Illustrated by Lisa Hunt

The Shapeshifter Tarot Deck & Book Set
Price: $31.95
Number of cards in deck: 81, which includes three extra major arcana cards.

Measurements: 2.75 x 4.6 inches; or 69 x 117 millimeters.

Back of card: Solid blue field with, in center, a fancy Celtic circle motif in light yellow. I can make out an abstract yin/yang figure, as well as a less abstract trefoil. Can be inverted.

Book included: Yes, 237 pages, 6 x 9 inches, or 152 x 229 millimeters. Cards are illustrated in black & white. Illustration & text comprises about 3 pages per card. The authors & illustrator are the same as for the deck.

Publisher: Llewellyn. Printed in the US.

Comments: This is the hot new deck, though we weren't so impressed. Tarot seems to be drifting towards free-form, where the major arcana is here 25 (instead of 22) cards of whatever we like, suits are whatever names we like & no longer need to have their objects (swords, rods, coins, cups, whatever) printed on them. There's nothing wrong with this approach, though you do loose the classical feel of major/minor arcana, suits, etc.

This is also a politically correct deck. Nudes are shown but they have no genitals, they are sexless. Or, to be precise, the male nudes are castrated - see the Sun card, above. How, do you suppose, did male castration became a politically correct thing to flaunt?

Somewhat later. I've been faulted for that remark, so will explain: The Sun represents strength & vitality, male vitality, but this male has no genitals, so has no male vitality. He is shapeshifting into a bird & as he does so the sun he holds shapeshifts into an egg. An egg that is infertile, since the male is impotent. Fertile or not, it's an egg that will never hatch, since the bird that would hatch it is underneath it. And a bird that will never fly, since an egg is above it: Inversion. Now do you see what I mean about this deck? PS: The egg/male, egg/snake (the snake as male essence) pairing is quite ancient. It turns up in classical Christian art.

Court cards: 11 Seeker. 12 Warrior (an effeminate looking man). 13 God. 14 Goddess. At first this looks like a simple reversal of King & Queen cards, but the book says otherwise. In the book, the God card is related to the Queen, while the Goddess card is related to the King. This implies that males and females are really the same thing. Well, it's the Shapeshifter Tarot, after all. Why shouldn't men shapeshift into females? If that be so, then shouldn't females shapeshift into males? We see the male to female shift in this deck, but not the reverse.

The shapeshift idea is that shamans take on the identity of an animal while in trance. This isn't a new idea. Carlos Castaneda wrote of it decades ago. Indians of the American northwest memorialized their shapeshifting in their famous totems. In the southwest, Hopi kachina dolls are the most astounding - and puzzling - shapeshifted creatures on the planet. The term "shapeshifting" is itself just the latest in a series of words to describe the same thing.

Shapeshifting, psychically, is a simple technique. With it you may talk to animals. Shamans talk of an "upper" and "lower" path, with many rules against venturing in the lower path. To a Theosophist, this amounts to fourth (lower) and fifth (upper) sub-planes of the astral plane. Charles W. Leadbeater wrote the classic book on the subject, The Astral Plane, which now seems out of print. That's very sad. Study Theosophy and many things will be clear to you.

The Astrology Center of America

207 Victory Lane, Bel Air, MD 21014
Tel: 410-638-7761; Toll-free (orders only): 800-475-2272

Tarot Home Tarot Decks Tarot Books Astrology Home E-Mail: Dave

Established 1993, The Astrology Center of America is owned & operated by David Roell. Except where noted, this entire site (AstroAmerica.com) & its contents are Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 by William R. Roell. All rights reserved. Tarot card images are Copyright © by the copyright holder (generally the publisher).