Tarot and The Mysteries, with Rachel Pollack, Author of 78 Degrees of Wisdom
This class will take place virtually, via Zoom. Ticket sales will end at 10.am EST the day of the lecture. Attendees may request a video recording AFTER the class takes place by emailing proof of purchase to [email protected]. Video recordings are valid for 30 days after the date of the lecture.
Ticketholders: a link to the conference is sent out at 11 am EST on the day of the event to the email used at checkout. Please add [email protected] to your contacts to ensure that the event link will not go to spam.
The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, known for its vivid images and occult symbolism, also opens us to the great stories of mythology that allow us to delve into ancient mysteries, and find our own pathways.
In this interactive class, Rachel will look at the Greater Mysteries Of Eleusis, a nine day ritual held every five years for at least two thousand years—and the ways in which the Rider Waite Smith’s Major Arcana follows both the myth and the ritual itself.
The Mysteries were centered around the story of Demeter, Goddess of the grain and agriculture, and her daughter, Persephone. At the beginning of the story, Demeter’s beloved daughter has no name, and so no separate identity. She is only Kore, a word that means both “daughter” and “sprouted seed.” Then Death rises up from the ground in a thunderous chariot and steals Kore to become his wife in the Underworld, the land of shadows. At first, no one will tell Demeter what has happened. Then two Titans (deities older than the Gods), Helios, who drives the Sun Chariot across the sky each day, and Hekate, ruler of the Dark Moon, reveal the truth.
Demeter goes to Zeus, who tells her it’s a done deal, her daughter is not coming back, all she can do is accept it.
But Demeter is not just a grieving mother whose daughter died too young. She stops the world from growing until finally it is Zeus himself who must accept the inevitable. He sends Hermes, God of magicians and travelers, to order Hades to return the Daughter to the land of the living.
And yet, something has happened in the Underworld. Kore has become Persephone, She Who Shines In The Dark to give new hope to the dead souls. And because she eats several pomegranate seeds in the world below, she cycles back and forth, part of each year with her mother, and part with Death, and the souls who depend on her.
Here are some of the cards that “act out” the story: Magician—Hermes; High Priestess—Persephone, sitting before her curtain of pomegranates; Empress—Demeter, with grain growing at her feet; Emperor—Zeus, who discovers there is nothing stronger than a mother; Hierophant—originally the title of the priest who presided over the Mysteries; Death; and the Star—Persephone herself, for at the end of the Mysteries two vessels were overturned to pour the Water of life into cracks in the dry Earth, as the celebrants called out Hye! Kye! which is “Rain! Conceive!”
The Greater Mysteries began when the Hierophantos held up the sacred objects. In this class we will hold up our own sacred creation—the Tarot—and travel, through stories, discussion, and readings, into our own Mysteries.
Tarot decks are optional. During the readings Rachel will be pulling cards from her Tarot deck(s). If you want to pull the identical cards from your own copy of the Rider Waite Smith or another deck, have one on hand.
Rachel Pollack is the author of 45 books of fiction and non-fiction. Her novels have won two major awards. Her non-fiction, primarily books about Tarot, include Seventy-Eight Degrees Of Wisdom, published in 1980 and in print ever since, and described around the world as “the Bible of Tarot readers.” An artist as well as a writer, she designed and drew the Shining Tribe Tarot. She also has collaborated with artist Robert M. Place to create The Burning Serpent Oracle, and The Raziel Tarot, and has written the books to go with several major Tarot decks. Rachel has twice traveled to Greece to enact her own version of the Eleusinian Mysteries, the first time alone, the second leading a group of people.