Rachel Pollack

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Rachel Pollack
Richard A. Pollack

(1945-08-17) 17 August 1945 (age 73)
Alma materNew York University, Claremont Graduate University
Notable work
Issues 64–87 of Doom Patrol
StyleMagical realism

Rachel Grace Pollack (born August 17, 1945) is an American science fiction author, comic book writer, and expert on divinatory tarot. Pollack is involved in the women's spirituality movement.

Tarot reading[edit]

Pollack has written a book-length exposition of Salvador Dali's Tarot deck, comprising a full-page color plate for each card, with her commentary on the facing page.[1] Pollack's work 78 Degrees of Wisdom on Tarot reading is commonly referenced by Tarot readers.[2] She has created her own Tarot deck, Shining Woman Tarot (later Shining Tribe Tarot).[3] She also aided in the creation of the Vertigo Tarot Deck with illustrator Dave McKean and author Neil Gaiman, and she wrote a book to accompany it.[4]


Pollack is best known for her run of issues 64–87 on the comic book Doom Patrol, on DC Comics' Vertigo imprint,[5] which became a cult favorite under Grant Morrison. A comic fandom legend has it that Pollack was assigned to write the series after writing persistent letters to the editor.[6] Although the letters are a matter of record,[6] it's unknown if they were actually the cause of her employment. During her tenure Pollack dealt with such rarely addressed comic-book topics as menstruation, sexual identity, and transsexuality. Pollack's run ended two years later, with the book's cancellation. Pollack also wrote a Brother Power the Geek one-shot, and eleven issues of a New Gods series for DC Comics (the first five co-authored with Tom Peyer). Author Neil Gaiman has sometimes consulted Rachel Pollack on the tarot for his stories.[7] Pollack created an actual tarot spread for one of Gaiman's books.[citation needed]


Three of Pollack's novels have won or been nominated for major awards in the science fiction and fantasy field: Unquenchable Fire won the 1989 Arthur C. Clarke Award; Godmother Night won the 1997 World Fantasy Award, was shortlisted for the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and was nominated for a Lambda Award; Temporary Agency was nominated for the 1995 Nebula Award and the Mythopoeic Award, and shortlisted for the Tiptree.[8]

Her magical realism[9] novels explore worlds imbued with elements pulled from a number of traditions, faiths, and religions. Several of her novels are set in an alternative reality that resembles modern America, but an America of Bright Beings, where magic and ritual, religion and thaumaturgy are the norms.[10]


Her book The Body Of The Goddess is an exploration of the history of the Goddess. Rachel Pollack uses the image of the Goddess in many of her works.


Pollack is Jewish,[11] and has frequently written about the Kabbalah, most notably in The Kabbalah Tree.[12]

Pollack is a transsexual woman and has written frequently on transgender issues.[13][14] In Doom Patrol she introduced Coagula, a transsexual character. She has also written several essays on transsexualism, attacking the notion that it is a "sickness," [15] instead saying that it is a passion. She has emphasized the revelatory aspects of transsexualism, saying that "the trance-sexual [sic] woman sacrifices her social identity as a male, her personal history, and finally the very shape of her body to a knowledge, a desire, which overpowers all rational understanding and proof."

A Secret Woman features a police detective who is transgender and Jewish. The detective utters the prayer, "Blessed art thou oh G-d who made me not a woman. Double blessed is Doctor Green who has."[16] Rachel Pollack created the characters known as 'the bandage people' for her Doom Patrol run. The bandage people are 'sexually remaindered spirits' who died in sexual accidents. The initials srs came from the medical term 'sex reassignment surgery'. Rachel wrote the essay "The Transsexual Book of The Dead" for the anthology Phallus Palace. This article is concerning trans men.

Fairy tales such as the Brothers Grimm have influenced many of Pollack's writings. Her new book, Tarot of Perfection, is a book of fairy tales based on the tarot.


For nearly 20 years Pollack has been teaching seminars with Tarot author Mary K. Greer at the Omega Institute, in Rhinebeck, New York.[17] She has also done seminars for several years in California in conjunction with Greer, and she co-presented a breakthrough seminar with Tarot author Johanna Gargiulo-Sherman on Tarot and psychic ability, using her own Shining Tribe Tarot and Gargulio-Sherman's Sacred Rose Tarot.[17] Pollack is also a popular lecturer at Tarot seminars and symposiums such as LATS (Los Angeles Tarot Symposium), BATS (Bay Area Tarot Symposium), and the Readers Studio.[17] Pollack currently teaches creative writing at Goddard College. Her most recent work is included in the anthology called Interfictions: An Anthology of Interstitial Writing edited by Theodora Goss. Pollack has taught English at State University of New York.


In May 2015, Pollack was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. By late summer the cancer had responded to treatment and was in remission.[citation needed]

Degrees, awards, and memberships[edit]

Published works[edit]

Non-fiction books[edit]

  • Anderson, Hilary (1989). New Thoughts on Tarot. North Hollywood: Newcastle Pub. Co. ISBN 0-87877-139-5.[12]
  • Hillman, James (1997). Marriages: Spring 60, a Journal of Archetype and Culture. City: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 1-882670-09-4.[12]
  • Livernois, Jay (1996). Archetypal Sex: Spring : a Journal of Archetype and Culture. Irving: Spring Publications. ISBN 1-882670-05-1.[12]
  • Mckean, Dave (2001). Bento. Pacific Grove: Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. ISBN 0-9642069-4-3.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1985). Salvador Dali's Tarot. Salem, New Hampshire: Salem House. ISBN 0-88162-076-9.
  • Pollack, Rachel (1986). Tarot. Wellingborough: Aquarian Press. ISBN 0-85030-465-2.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1986). Teach Yourself Fortune Telling. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-0125-5.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1990). The Haindl Tarot. City: Newcastle Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87877-156-5.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1990). The Haindl Tarot: the Major Arcana. City: Newcastle Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87877-155-7.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1990). The New Tarot. City: Overlook Hardcover. ISBN 0-87951-395-0.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1991). Tarot Readings and Meditations. London: Thorsons Pub. ISBN 1-85538-049-8.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1995). The Journey out. New York: Viking. ISBN 0-14-037254-7.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1997). The Body of the Goddess. Tisbury: Element Books. ISBN 1-85230-871-0.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1998). Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. New York: Thorsons Publishers. ISBN 0-7225-3572-4.
  • Pollack, Rachel (2000). The Power of Ritual. New York: Dell. ISBN 0-440-50872-X.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2001). The Shining Tribe Tarot. Saint Paul: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 1-56718-514-2.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2001). The Shining Tribe Tarot, Revised and Expanded. Saint Paul: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 1-56718-532-0.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2002). Complete Illustrated Guide to Tarot. City: Element Books Ltd. ISBN 0-00-713115-1.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2004). The Kabbalah Tree. Saint Paul: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-7387-0507-1.[12]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2005). Seeker. Saint Paul: Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-7387-0521-7.[12]
  • Robbins, Trina (2002). Eternally Bad. City: Book Sales. ISBN 0-7858-1565-1.[12]




Short fiction[edit]

  • Pollack, Rachel (1971). Pandora's Bust.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1973). Tubs of Slaw.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1975). Black Rose and White Rose.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1976). Is Your Child Using Drugs? Seven Ways to Recognize a Drug Addict.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1982). Angel Baby.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1984). The Malignant One.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1984). The Girl Who Went to the Rich Neighbourhood.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1984). Tree House.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1984). Lands of Stone.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1986). The Protector.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1989). The Bead Woman.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1989). Knower of Birds.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1989). Burning Sky.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1990). The Woman Who Didn't Come Back.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1990). General All-Purpose Fairy Tale.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel; James Patrick Kelly; Pat Cadigan; Nancy Kress (1997). Making Good Time.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (1998). The Fool, the Stick, and the Princess.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2001). The Younger Brother.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (2003). Delusions of Universal Grandeur.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel; Michael Cisco; Jeffrey Thomas; Eric G. Schaller; K. J. Bishop; Stepan Chapman; Richard Calder; R. F. Wexler (2003). Reminiscences.[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel (May 2010). "Forever". Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.[20]


  • The Wild Cows (1993)[20]


  • "Introduction: A Machine for Constructing Stories" (1989)[20]
  • Read This (The New York Review of Science Fiction, October 1991) (1991)[20]
  • Read This (The New York Review of Science Fiction, July 1995) (1995)[20]
  • Read This (The New York Review of Science Fiction, August 1996) (1996)[20]
  • Pollack, Rachel. "Death and It's Afterlives In the Tarot". "Parabola".[20]

Forthcoming books[edit]

  • Pollack, Rachel (2007). Simon Wisdom.[12]


  • The Book of Embraces (1991) by Eduardo Galeano
  • Outside the Dog Museum (1992) by Jonathan Carroll
  • Coelestis [vt Celestis](1996) by Paul Park



  1. ^ Pollack, Rachel (1985). Salvador Dali's Tarot. Salem, New Hampshire: Salem House. ISBN 0-88162-076-9.
  2. ^ "Llewellyn.com". Retrieved 2008-04-08.
  3. ^ "Shining Tribe Tarot". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  4. ^ "Vertigo Tarot". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  5. ^ "Doom Patrol". Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  6. ^ a b Jim Morrison. "Doom Patrol" (62–63).
  7. ^ Davis, Erik (1994). "The Gods of the Funny Books: An Interview with Neil Gaiman and Rachel Pollack". Gnosis. Archived from the original on 2012-05-29. Retrieved 2012-11-22.
  8. ^ "sfadb : Rachel Pollack Awards". www.sfadb.com.
  9. ^ "GLBT Fantasy review of Godmother Night". Retrieved 2008-09-19.
  10. ^ "Temporary Agency". Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  11. ^ "New Worlds Article". Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab "biblio.com". Retrieved 2008-04-15.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ Valerio, Max Wolf (2006). The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male. Berkeley: Seal Press. p. 147. ISBN 1-58005-173-1.
  14. ^ Israel, Gianna E.; Tarver II; Donald E. (2001). Transgender Care: Recommended Guidelines, Practical Information & Personal Accounts. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 269. ISBN 1-56639-852-5.
  15. ^ Pollack, Rachel. "Archetypal Transsexuality."[permanent dead link] Retrieved on 10-20-2008.
  16. ^ Pollack, Rachel. A Secret Woman: A Mystery. New York: St. Martin's Minotaur, 2002.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Women In Tarot".
  18. ^ World Fantasy Convention (2010). "Award Winners and Nominees". Archived from the original on 2010-12-01. Retrieved 4 Feb 2011.
  19. ^ a b c d "The Shining Tribe". Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad "Internet Science Fiction Data Base". Retrieved 2008-04-15.

External links[edit]