I remember standing in front of my first tarot deck. It was facing me on a shelf in a gift shop in the Casper, Wyoming mall. I was fifteen and had no money on me. We did not live in Casper so I knew I wouldn't get a chance to come back and buy it. I begged my sister to buy it for me and to this day I am so grateful that she did. Some years later, I learned that there is a superstition in the tarot community: one should not buy their own deck, rather, it should come to them as a gift. The acquisition of my first deck was not necessarily a gift, but I didn't buy it either...so, I think I unknowingly avoided getting a deck that "just didn't work for me."
Legend: The Arthurian Tarot by Anna-Marie Ferguson, was my deck. The imagery was beautiful and haunting, and the accompanying little white book was my key to knowing what it all meant. Or was it? Yes, it was a key to understanding the individual cards, but how was I supposed to connect each card? Where were the instructions for that!?
Enter The Complete and Illustrated Guide to Tarot by Rachel Pollack. A Barnes and Noble book store had just opened in Cheyenne, and they had a section of "New Age" books. With only a couple tarot books from which to choose, I liked that Pollack's book matched my other book on palmistry by the same publisher. It was at this point in my tarot journey that I began to understand the deck as a whole. It was not just 78 individual pictures, rather, an organized system of two decks. My readings finally started making sense! Rachel introduced me to the world of symbolism and how to work with the basics such as elements, colors, and numbers.
As the years went on and I acquired other excellent tarot books, I continued to reference my first book, as it formed the bedrock of my tarot practice. I am so grateful to have been her student at such a formative age. Tarot was the only way back to my connection with God/Source/Great Mother and through Rachel's wisdom, I learned how to cultivate the tools for the journey.
Rachel Pollack passed away at 78 years of age on April 7, 2023. May her memory be eternal.