Seventy-eight new spirits have taken up residence in my house, or perhaps just one spirit with 78 voices. They are the cards in Rachel Pollack’s Shining Tribe Tarot, and they seem quite pleased at the prospect of celebrating the sacred truth and spirit of the individual in the former Catholic seminary that is my home.
I have always loved the tarot, but never tried to read it on my own. I bought this deck and its accompanying book, not because I thought I could be a tarot card reader, but because Rachel’s images, and her emphasis on joy and spirit, called to me. It was quite a surprise, then, that every time I ask a question and pull a card, the meanings and ideas and thoughts that Rachel has set out in her book resonate perfectly. The cards know.
Last night, my friend Jan was visiting and she pulled three cards for me and told me to tell a story. “There once was a woman named Reiko who…” I tried to go to the book, but she wouldn’t let me. I had to make up my own story from the puppet trees, the sacred ceremony, the spirits in the underworld. The story came out of nowhere – it was truthful and scary and necessary, and later, when I went to the book, I found it was also very congruent with Rachel’s descriptions of the essence of the cards.
Where does the story come from? It isn’t “the cards” that know. The origin isn’t “nowhere.” As a writer, I call the story, I do some magic, something alchemical in my body, to translate it into words and bring it onto the page. Whether that alchemy is conveyed using cards, or whether it is happening, hidden, in the silent, solitary figure of a writer with paper and pen, I am only now, as I write my fourth book, realizing that we are magicians, and that the divine spirit is ours to call on. It is out there, and inside us, waiting to be called.
From the “scary” card, the Five of Stones, which is where I am going:
“They emerge, they emerge,
the dark hidden healers,
power from secrets,
visions from stones.”