Rachel Pollack is the author of 39 books, including two award-winning novels, and a series of books about Tarot cards known around the world. She designed and drew her own Tarot deck, The Shining Tribe Tarot. With artist Robert Place she has created two more decks. Her 40th book, The Fissure King—A Novel In Five Stories, will be published in October of 2017.
What do you do best?
I write about, teach, and “read” Tarot cards. I write stories and novels that connect ancient myths, and fairy tales, to contemporary life.
What makes you the best?
My novel Unquenchable Fire won Britain’s prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award. My novel Godmother Night won the World Fantasy Award. I have taught and read Tarot in America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and China, where I am known as “Grandma Tarot.” My books have translated into fifteen languages and sold around the world.
What are your aspirations?
Having had cancer, twice, my greatest aspiration is to continue to travel the world, and to be able to write down at least some of the book and story ideas that come to me constantly.
My first book on Tarot cards, 78 Degrees of Wisdom, has been described by readers and teachers around the world as “the Bible of Tarot readers.” A shop owner in Maine, a man I’d never met before, gave me a silver and topaz caduceus pendant because he said I’d saved his life through my writing. In the mid-90’s I wrote a comic book, Doom Patrol, that among other characters featured a transgender woman superhero. A young closeted transwoman in England wrote that all her life she’d wanted to kill herself but never had the courage. Now, from reading the stories we were doing, she was discovering she had the courage to live, and become her true self.
Most Challenging Moment?
When I was first reading Tarot cards my partner invited her boss and his wife to lunch. The wife asked if I would read her husband’s cards. When we laid them out it become clear to me that he was having an affair. I didn’t know what to do—he was my partners boss, after all—so I said “There may be a problem in a relationship, and there may be a third person involved.” His wife got all excited and pressed me to continue but he turned aside. Much later, I learned that she’d been accusing him of having a lover, and he kept saying she was mentally ill, paranoid, delusional. Then one day she came home and there was a note from him saying that he’d left her, and would marry his co-worker as soon as he could get a divorce. This taught me always to tell the truth.
"Art and ardor"
Favorite People/Role Models?
My intellectual heroes are many, but Jorge Luis Borges and Annie Dillard both come to mind. And Einstein. My moral/political heroes include Clarence Darrow (read everything about him I could find in high school), and Pete Seeger. In life, my parents were great models, my father for his quiet, gentle strength, my mother for her courage and passion for life.
Paris, Paris, Paris. After that, Copenhagen, San Francisco, Australia, particularly the desert, England…the list goes on. One of the great moments of my life was getting to visit Lascaux Cave in France, closed to the general public since 1964.
I collect fountain pens and quality journals. All my books and stories are written first by hand, with a fountain pen in a large journal, then typed into my computer.
I am currently fascinated by the Djinn, quantum physics, time travel, cave art, and Jewish mythology.