How do you discuss somebody who not solely rocked your personal world, however these of numerous others? Whose fertile creativeness and beneficiant nature impressed and reworked so many lives? My good friend, instructor, and mentor Rachel Pollack died in April. It’s onerous to wrap my head round what an enormous loss that is, not just for me, however for the world. She had an encyclopedic data at her fingertips of mythology, tarot, historic developments, cultural developments, historic civilizations. She was a storyteller at coronary heart, utilizing private tales, common tales to show. She inspired and guided every of us to find and inform our personal tales. Her tales gained each the Arthur C. Clarke and the World Fantasy Awards. I name her the Grandmother of the Tarot as a result of her work in that space has been so ground-breaking, far-reaching and depthful.
I write JIA, as an alternative of RIP, particular for Rachel. JIA means Journey In Journey. Rachel was adventurous to her core. Reasonably than resting in peace I see her persevering with her immensely adventurous journey simply now on the opposite facet of the veil. I see it as a unbroken wondrous, magical trip that she has earned.
She wrote over 40 books in her lifetime, together with numerous articles and brief tales. Rachel was thus far forward of her time that our tradition nonetheless hasn’t caught as much as her. She, herself, was trans in an period the place it wasn’t generally mentioned. She created the primary trans superhero for DC comics. You’ll be able to learn extra about that right here.
She reminded us always that magic exists on the planet and that we will and do faucet into it. She had a childlike pleasure on the most mundane issues. I used to be so honored when she agreed to jot down the foreword to my Moses e-book. Whereas researching the e-book, she launched me to her good friend, Rabbi Jonathan Kligler. As we sat outdoors his workplace ready to fulfill with him, some folks had been strolling down the hallway and discussing art work to be mounted. One of many ladies mentioned, “we’ve discovered a brand new strategy to do the hangings.” Rachel’s eyes lit up, her physique vibrated with pleasure. I absolutely anticipated her to jot down a narrative about hangings and new methods to do them. Had she lived longer, I think about she would have.
Additionally in above famous article, writer Hunter Felt wrote a couple of quote from Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, American Gods). Gaiman advised about an expertise with Rachel in his introduction to The Vertigo Tarot. Gaiman described a surreal expertise when he accompanied Rachel Pollack on a go to to an esoteric store in Camden to select up a Tarot deck. Gaiman mentioned, “[I was] feeling like I’d simply gone right into a document present with somebody who, to my shock, turned out to be one of many Beatles, as Rachel modestly admitted her id to the woman behind the counter, and signed autographs.”
I so love this description as a result of, to me, it encapsulates Rachel. A towering presence who was approachable, personable, and caring.
Rachel designed her personal deck which I can’t suggest heartily sufficient. It’s known as the Shining Tribe. As an alternative of the same old fits of pentacles, wands, cups and swords, hers are stones, bushes, rivers and birds. It’s dripping with nature-based knowledge and mythological references.
Rachel developed and pioneered various strategies to do Tarot readings. At her workshops, she typically did “knowledge readings.” In these readings she would ask questions reminiscent of “what’s my soul?” “what does it demand of me?” She writes about this course of and a few of the solutions she obtained in her e-book Forest of Souls which has now simply been re-issued below the title A Stroll by the Forest of Souls. She writes, “Our function right here is to make use of the Tarot photos as openings to religious marvel. (pg xxii). Achieved! She tells tales from her readings which entertain and illuminate. The title of the e-book comes from a studying she did with the query What’s the Tarot? Utilizing her personal Shining Tribe deck, she obtained the 6 of bushes. She writes, “we will see the Tarot as a information by unknown and fearful territory.” (ps 48-50)
Rachel helped me in therapeutic so profoundly, I nonetheless don’t perceive all the weather of it. I went to her for Tarot readings when issues received robust or on the ultimate time when my life grew mysterious. At first of 2021, unusual issues started occurring in my life. Individuals from my long gone had been exhibiting up within the oddest methods. As she did for others, she created a studying the place we recognized key moments of my life after which picked playing cards to offer us extra info. As a few of , a part of my journey has concerned therapeutic from rape. The cardboard we picked for that have was the star card.
This card is the picture of Persephone It was Rachel who first identified to me the parallel themes between my life and Persephone’s. I had at all times liked the story of Persephone and her connection to the Eleusinian mysteries, and the Greek thriller faculties. Earlier than this, nevertheless, I by no means consciously linked my experiences to these. Persephone is kidnapped (learn raped) by Hades and brought to the Underworld. Her uncle, Hades had colluded with Zeus, Persephone’s father to take her. I used to be attacked within the constructing of my very own father’s workplace and brought to a basement. Maybe not the identical collusion of Zeus however a synchronicity however. And a darkish basement could be equated to the Underworld. When Persephone rises from the land of the useless, she turns into a information, by these bleak lands which may metaphorically be seen as instances in our lives when darkness overwhelms us. Persephone grew to become a beacon for me to heal as She has for therefore many others. I consider that’s the reason these myths have withstood the assessments of time. They communicate so deeply and truthfully concerning the human situation. And it was Rachel who pointed me on this path. The template for my autobiography, Desperately Looking for Persephone, is impressed by this studying. My e-book shall be launched tomorrow (5/19/23).
Once I wrote to Rachel’s spouse (and fellow Tarorist) Zoe Matoff for permission to make use of the Shining Tribe photos, she wrote again: “I hope you will get throughout that Rachel wrote over so many genres and wished to be remembered for her writing. However, in fact, we keep in mind her scope of data, her wit, her giggle, her generosity together with her time and creativeness, her creativity, and her nice acceptance and love of the world and the creatures inside it. To the top, her coronary heart was therapeutic others, caring for these round her whilst she moved nearer to that ultimate threshold in silence and a few wonderful jubilation.”
Zoe, I hope I’ve conveyed the guts of Rachel’s essence.
Rachel accomplished the foreword for my Moses e-book by writing, “Maybe Questions are the last word Homeland for all of us.” Effectively, Rachel, you have got definitely left me with a number of questions. And for that I’m each grateful and blessed.
Two of Rachel’s books have been re-issued not too long ago:
Seventy-Eight Levels of Knowledge. First printed in 1980, it was reissued in 2020 as a 40th anniversary version. It was the primary e-book I had examine Tarot, lengthy earlier than I met Rachel. I used to be deeply affected by it. I nonetheless use it always for reference. My copy is dog-eared and well-worn.
You will discover it right here on Amazon
A Stroll Via the Forest of Souls. I’ve simply began re-reading this e-book for the third time. I’m always discovering new layers of curiosity and which means. That is an impressive e-book. It was simply re-released on Might 1st. You will discover it right here.
The Physique of the Goddess. I can’t full this honoring with out together with this e-book, one in every of my favorites amongst so a lot of Rachel’s books. The subtitle is: “Sacred Knowledge in Fantasy, Panorama and Tradition.” Sadly that is out of print and so it’s tough to get. That is one other one in every of her books that I confer with always.
JIA, expensive Rachel, JIA