I'm over half way through the book now. I must say I am increasingly amazed at how much of my tarot practice is virtually identical to that Rachel Pollack describes in 78 Degrees of Wisdom. Because she doesn't do much in the way of referencing her sources, I am not sure how much of this material comes from her and how much from Waite, Jung, etc. I must also admit I was hoping for more of a scholarly treatment of the cards and their history, or a deeper pulling together of various esoteric traditions and correspondences. Does this mean that I waited long enough to read this book? If I had tried to read it before I virtually already knew most of it, by osmosis or whatever means it has got into my head, would it have blown my mind? Or blown me away? Who knows, eh.
So far the thing that is ringing for me is Pollack's statements about free will in her discussion of the Justice card. I am accustomed to taroists saying, 'Oh, the cards don't foretell the future. A reading is not set in stone, you have free will and so things might change.' I have said this myself many times. But actually...I think Pollack has a very good point when she says that free will is something we have but do not use nearly as often as we think we do. A simple decision is not exercising free will. And turning left instead of right one day won't render a tarot reading invalid. Even doing something drastic like resigning from your job to go and farm turnips in Tuscany won't necessarily render a tarot reading invalid. According to Pollack, a tarot reading will stand until you do some deep inner work on what got you to the point from which the reading is projected in the first place. This is a lot more than just saying,'Well, if the reading says I will be unhappy in my work, I'll just quit and get a new job' and expecting then to be happy in your work. Some deep exploration must be done to find out why work makes you unhappy, and change that, not just change jobs. This is not an entirely new concept to me...but it's one we as taroists may have a tendency to play down in our rush to assure our clients that a tarot reading is not the final word on their life. When we say, 'You can change it,' we need to be very clear about how much effort that really entails.