Playing with Sacred Ideas and the Tarot - Rachel Pollack Workshop

If you go to a lot of conferences, you find yourself making those tough "Which workshop shall I go to?" decisions based on various factors, one of which is accessibility. If you have seen a presenter numerous times, you tend to attend a workshop with someone who is from a far-off country who are you less likely to have the opportunity to see again. The exceptions to this rule for me are two people who I think of as tarot divinities, individuals whose approach to tarot makes me grateful to live in the same era that they do. One of these women is Mary K. Greer; the other is Rachel Pollack, and I attended both of their workshops in Chicago.

Part of what makes Rachel's workshops so special is her digressions, which stem from her wide-ranging areas of interest. She goes from Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy to the Talmud to her own Shining Tribe Tarot without missing a beat. In "Playing with Sacred Ideas and the Tarot," she spoke about how the Bible and other texts have been distorted by interpreters with an agenda. The term "Surrender to the divine" doesn't refer to a slave-master dyad, but about one Spirit surrendering to a loving Spirit. Rachel defines divination as aligning our desire with the divine--not seeking to find our fortune, but learning what is the flow of desire, where our desire is also of value.

Inherent in Rachel's respect for the divine in all things is her approach to the tarot. Since we have this wonderful resource (tarot) at our disposal, she asks the tarot's opinion as to what should be the subject of the spread. Ignoring what the tarot could tell us before we pull the cards is akin to being at a dinner where your in-laws ask your husband all about you, and eschewing your input, as if you're not the best authority on you.  "Get the tarot's opinion," is her advice.

We did a group reading using the Shining Tribe Tarot on the following questions:

1. What is the special equality of human existence?

2. How do the gods/Divinity/Godde (Rachel's choice of terminology) exist?

3. What is the same between humans and Godde?

4. What is special about humans?

5. What is special about Godde?

6. How do we communicate with the Divine?

All of the cards drawn were incredibly synchronous. For example, the last card drawn was the Lovers card, which in Rachel's deck shows a human and an angel embracing passionately in the sky; we communicate with true, passionate love. The visual and Rachel's special spin on this archetype were utterly profound, and left the participants with the feeling that we had a taste of communicating with the divine right then and there.


Photograph of Rachel Pollack with her Nicole Kidman Tresses 2002 Crystal Sage
Report and page 2002 Diane Wilkes