Talkin’ Tarot With is a monthly feature designed to introduce my readers to different tarot readers from our wonderfully diverse community! Each month, I’ll be asking various tarot readers 3 questions about their tarot philosophy and style, plus pointing you to their websites and blogs so that you can learn more about them! I like to hand pick tarot readers that I feel are talented and interesting.
If I had to say who was my biggest tarot influence, it would have to be Rachel Pollack. My copy of her book, 78 Degrees of Wisdom, is tattered with pages falling out and a cracked spine. It’s well-used and well-loved. (Psst…it’s my second copy – the first one got trashed!) I refer to it constantly in my Tarot Bytes podcast because I think it may be the most important book on tarot ever written. Deep and wise, this book took me further into the tarot’s symbolism than any other. I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, many of us tarot fanatics call this book “the bible of tarot.”
I’ve long admired Rachel and over the years, we have become friends. It was a huge honor to teach alongside her and my other tarot idol, Mary K. Greer, at last year’s Omega tarot conference. I will treasure that time forever.
Rachel is a delightful person with an incredible mind – and a wicked sense of humor. She’s also insanely creative – with over 40 books to her name, the Shining Tribe Tarot Deck, and a gorgeous jewelry collection (life goal: get one of her pieces). I’m always excited to see what she’s conjuring up next or what lessons she has to share. This year, she’s taking the main stage at the annual Reader’s Studio – and I’ll be in full-on groupie mode. (Front row, please.)
Cool Rachel Pollack fact: all of her books are written with fountain pens and then transferred over to the computer. WOW.
As you can probably guess, I am over the moon grateful that this busy woman took time out of her life to talk tarot with me! It’s an honor and a privilege to introduce her to you, my gentle readers. (Although she doesn’t really need an introduction!)
Rachel Pollack is the author of 40 books, most recently The Fissure King: A Novel In Five Stories. Her book, 78 Degrees Of Wisdom, has been described by Tarot readers and teachers around the world as “the Bible of tarot readers.” She is the designer and artist of the Shining Tribe Tarot, and in recent years has worked with artist Robert M. Place to create The Burning Serpent Oracle, a Lenormand-based deck, and The Raziel Tarot–The Secret Teachings of Adam and Eve. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages. She has taught Tarot on five continents.
Website: Rachel Pollack.
Check out Rachel’s answers to my questions below:
Q: What is your philosophy about tarot reading?
Rachel: I see myself as reading the cards, a card reader rather than a psychic, or a therapist. The cards began as a game, and this gives us permission to be playful and try new things. At the same time, they have accumulated to themselves more than one (far more than one) wisdom tradition that are now available for us to bring to our readings. But I believe we should use these traditions, not be ruled by them. My readings are client-based, that is, they grow out of what the client wants to know, understand, explore. I am most excited when I can read the cards in a mythological framework (for example, the Star car as the Goddess Persephone), but I know that some clients just want to know what will help their restaurant succeed. Many of my readings begin with writing down whatever the client says (e.g. “I’ve been married for 15 years. I’m not sure I love my husband anymore” and then using those statements as the “questions” in the reading. I might do 2 or 3 cards for the complex statement, “I’ve been married for 15 years,” and another 2 or 3 for “I’m not sure I love my husband anymore.”
Q: How do you feel a client might get the most out of a reading with you?
Rachel: If they are open about themselves and their issues, and open to the images, and what the cards bring up for them. I sometimes tell people (gently) to look at the picture, not me. I might ask them what the characters in the card are doing, or their attitude. But I am also not afraid to give what I see as the message of the cards. I won’t tell people what they should do with their lives, but I will say what the cards seem to say.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for an aspiring Tarot reader?
Rachel: Trust the pictures, and yourself, rather than think you have to memorize someone else’s lists of meanings. Experiment. Be playful. Remember that the Tarot began as a game. And if you think you’ve got it down, and really know what it all means, try looking at the pictures and seeing if there’s something you’ve never noticed before.
I am beyond thrilled that Rachel made this time in her busy schedule to speak with me. You can learn more about her over at her site.
© Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2018