The Santa Fe Tarot uses true Native American symbolism, as would have been used by the natives themselves, rather than romanticised images. The artist studied Navajo sand paintings, mythology and symbolism to create a very different deck.
It all started when I was explaining to a friend on how a deck of cards needs a certain amount of time to align themselves to your energy, your karma, your “medicine”. And with that particular Native-American term, a spark of interest was ignited within me about any similarly modifed cards that may be available. I looked on this very site to see what was out there. I wasn’t sure what I would find but I suppose I wasn’t surprised at some of the “Proud Indian with superimposed spirit wolf or eagle” sets. I was looking for something simpler, and I found it in the Santa Fe Tarot by Holly Huber and Tracy LeCocq.
If I was looking for simplicity, what could be more simple than images inspired by Navaho sand paintings? But that simplicity spoke to me more than any great detail could offer. I also possess a Rider-Waite-Smith deck (as well as others) and was always attracted to its artistic simplicity. I’m not big on photorealism. It seems to leave less open for speculation and interpretation.
I was dismayed to find out that this particular deck was out of print. However, with a quick search on ebay, I was able to find a deck (along with its accompanying book). I won the bidding war and this interesting set of cards wound up in my mailbox ten days later, not forking out much more than I would for a current deck AND a book.
Upon opening the box and fanning out the cards for an initial look, I was completely taken in. East meets West, so to speak, with this particular deck and little is lost in the translation. I possess scant knowledge of Native-American religion and spirituality. That ignorance does not translate into aversion. The little I do know garners only great respect. The companion book included with the card set will teach me much.
I refrain from doing any actual reading for a while with any new deck, feeling that it takes time for the cards to absorb your energy (or “medicine” in this case). However, in shuffling the deck with no intention of reading, the three of Lightning (Swords) dropped out. I didn’t think much of it until visiting with my ex-wife (we generally do get along) later that day. Because of external pressures on her part, there was much argument over nothing and felt dismayed (and a bit heartbroken) that she would allow so little to ruin the evening. With confidence that I “impregnated my energy” (as the accompanying book stated), I began reading from the deck shortly thereafter.
I keep my readings simple, using only three card spreads. I don’t seem to work with the usual past-present-future paradigm all that much either, bringing the three cards together in an interpretation. A Celtic Cross without the Staff works for me as well. In doing simple open ended “talk to me” queries with the Santa Fe Deck this early on, I can say that I come up with good, relevant, and coherent readings. I use my existing notes and log from Rider-Waite-Smith deck readings. There’s really nothing lost in translation and even though the symbology and imagery are somewhat “foreign” to me, I find myself grasping onto it at a much deeper and visceral level. Perhaps it’s my previous affinity, as basic as it is, for Native-American culture.
I don’t consider myself a collector per se, intending on using any deck I purchase. I merely find myself intrigued by the various artist’s interpretations. This is my seventh deck, a charmed number to be sure. In a sense, I feel satiated, no longer feeling the inclination to possess another deck. Perhaps that will pass but certainly indicates the impression this deck leaves on me.
To be sure, these cards
may not be for everybody and since they are out of
print and may be available only through online auctions,
setting one back a few bucks. But images can be found
online. Check them out and see if you get the same
connection as I did.