Safe Passage 🕊 Rachel Pollack

I recently discovered who Rachel Pollack was shortly before her death. I did not know it at the time, but Rachel Pollack was an influential person in both pagan spaces and the LBGTQIA+ community. Today, as part of my challenge entry for :skull: Weekly Witchy CHALLENGE- The Veil Between Worlds, I wanted to take the time to write about who Rachel was and how we can remember her as a common ancestor.


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Who was Rachel Pollack?

Born on August 17, 1945, in New York City, Rachel Pollack was a trans woman and vocal trans activist. She was also a comic book writer and the first to bring trans characters to DC Comics via Coagula, an out and proud transgender lesbian who joined The Doom Patrol after being rejected from The Justice League.

Pollack was also an avid tarot reader, writing several books and pieces for publications all over the world. One of her books, 78 Degrees of Wisdom, is one of the most recommended tarot books I have come across online. I have not read it myself, but it is one that has been on my to-be-read list for a very long time. Pollack even created her own tarot deck called Shining Woman Tarot (later called Shining Tribe Tarot) and consulted with Neil Gaiman on the tarot for his stories.

Rachel’s Death

In July of 2022, Rachel revealed that she had been diagnosed with a form of lymphoma – after battling a different variation years before – and would be undergoing chemotherapy. However, in August 2022, Rachel went into the intensive care unit for her disease and did not appear to get better. By March 2023, Rachel went home on hospice in the care of her wife, Zoe, and passed on April 7th at the age of 77.

Ancestor in Spirit

I first came across the idea of common ancestors in a book written by Fire Lyte (now Don Martin) called The Dabbler’s Guide to Witchcraft. In it, he discusses ancestor work from the perspective of a gay man with an estranged relationship with his family. Instead, he talks about how ancestors aren’t just blood relatives. I don’t think he used the phrase “ancestors in spirit”, but that’s the phrase I am using.

To me, an ancestor in spirit is someone that I have a connection to outside of blood. This may be through skills, education, land ties, or something else. For example, I have an ancestor in spirit with the people around the world that have passed that crochet or do any sort of fiber art. We are connected through our skill as fiber artists. When I need inspiration or assistance, I can call on my ancestors in spirit for help with the skill we all share.

That is how I view Rachel Pollack now. Though we are not connected by blood, nor by relationship or acquaintance, Rachel Pollack – and many of you – share a common skill. Any time you read tarot or pick up your cards, we share a connection with Rachel Pollack and all of her wisdom, should she choose to share it. Now, I am not advocating for calling on the spirit of Rachel Pollack for help right now, especially so close to her passing. This is just a thought for the future, and a way to maybe expand your thinking when it comes to the idea of ancestors.

While I can never do her writing justice, nor do I claim to know all about Rachel Pollack, I know that her wisdom will live on with those that have learned from her and whose lives she has touched.

Recently I was thinking about what epitaph I might want if I had a tombstone (sounds morbid, but it’s actually a kind of fun exercise—trust me). At first I thought of a line from a Gabon Pygmy song celebrating life and consciousness—All lives, all dances, and all is loud. Then I recalled a line I love from the book Awakening Osiris, Normandi Ellis’s poetic translation of “The Egyptian Book of the Dead”—Give me not words of consolation. Give me magic.

Then finally I came to something more simple and more personal—Story. It’s all story…

Story, it’s all story by Rachel Pollack, 2015


Sources and More Reading

The Wild Hunt - Pagan Community Notes: Week of April 10, 2023
Rachel Pollack - Wikipedia
Coagula - Wikipedia
The Tarosophy Tarot Association - Rachel Pollack

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Megan,
:crystal_ball: “Seventy Degrees to Wisdom” is such a book I want to read as well. I personally have not read it entirely through but I have so much respect for Rachell Pollock

I like how u used the example of calling on an ancestor spirit for help for assistance with crochet! I will try this cause I am crocheting and it helps to have help spiritually and mentally. I went to the tulip botanical garden and crocheted with my friend. In this case I could use my travel alter and burn some botanicals and call to someone I look up too for crochet that has passed! For example Rachel pollock is someone I look up too as well
Thanks for your post this is so helpful! I look up to you to my friend!
Jeannie

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I feel like it was my loss to not have known about Rachel Pollack before- thank you for shining a light on this amazing, talented person, Megan! :pray::candle:

I love the idea of having ancestors in spirit- it makes me feel connected with all those who shared love and passion. It makes the world across the ages feel smaller, in a happy and cozy way :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

This is a really beautiful entry to the Veil Between Worlds Challenge, Megan- I really enjoyed reading and learning from it! Thank you very much for sharing :people_hugging: :heart:

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Oh my… this speaks to me on so many levels! I very recently lost my spinning wheel instructor. She had fought and beaten lung cancer, but it came back and took her very quickly. When she was rediagnosed, she kind of… stepped back from everything and I couldn’t get a hold of her or anything. I actually did more grieving when I realized she wasnt going to get better than I did after she died. I was so sad because she was an amazing person, an epic story teller, a kind and compassionate soul… and an incredible teacher. I was so sad because I knew I had so much more to learn from her (not that I hadn’t been an attentive student, just that our paths had only been crossed for about a year). I was also devastated that her knowledge was being taken away… until I realized that I have access to so many people that she taught to spin as well. Now I just miss her because she was awesome. I hope she realizes just how grateful I was for her knowledge and teaching. I told her often, but… I love this idea of common ancestors and that I can still learn from her should she choose to lend a hand. It makes me smile and gives me the warm fuzzies!

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She feels like a beautiful and gentle soul, and I can connect to her love of stories :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

And that she was a vocal trans activist, and in the US no less, and could live a long life and pass away without violence, gives me hope. Hope that we’re already building a better and more loving world. :relieved: :heart:

The theme of physical and spiritual ancestors seems to be cropping up… I feel so much more connected to my spiritual ancestors too, I’ve shared more about it in other threads. My immediate family is lovely, but beyond that I don’t really have any connection. That’s all on personal level, on a deeper level I feel we’re all connected and one.

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You’re very welcome, Jeannie! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I’m glad you were able to take something away from this post – and if you ever need help with crochet, just let me know!

It’s really helped me reconcile the fact that some of my family members, both recently passed and further back, were not the greatest people. They aren’t people I would want to connect with on a spiritual level even if they were alive today! :grimacing: It’s a reminder for me that ancestors aren’t just our family, and that helps me have a little more hope when working with my ancestors that I won’t inadvertently call someone to me that I don’t actually want there :sweat_smile:

Oh I’m so glad! :revolving_hearts: You can even add her to an ancestor altar if you have one, especially since it sounds like she was such large part of your life while she was alive. I think that would be a great way to honor her legacy in your life!

I feel like she definitely was – and her activism will live on for many, many years to come :clap: I know it!

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Absolutely amazing idea! I had just the picture too!!

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How amazing! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I’m sure her place there is perfect!

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