Science fiction and comic book writer Rachel Pollack, who died April 7 at age 77, transformed tarot – from a practice once dismissed as an esoteric parlor trick, into a means of connection that felt personal, political and rooted in community. “We were trying to break the tarot free from what it had been, and open up a whole new way of being,” Pollack said in a 2019 interview with Masters of the Tarot.
Her 1980 book Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom was named for the number of cards in a tarot deck. In it, Pollack explored archetypes that hadn’t been updated much since their creation in the 1400s. Based on rigid gender and class stereotypes, traditional tarot left little space for reinterpretation. Pollack reimagined it through the lens of feminism, and saw it as a path to the divine. She wrote a book exploring Salvador Dali’s tarot and even created a deck of her own called the Shining Tribe tarot.