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In Memoriam: Rachel Pollack

Rachel Grace Pollack passed from this world in the early afternoon of April 7th with her wife Zoe Matoff and friends at her side. In the moments before Pollack’s passing Matoff initiated a “Hand To Heart” ceremony. Matoff placing her hand on Rachel’s heart and sharing thoughts of love and gratitude with each of the gathered friends taking their turn to bid farewell.

Born on August 17th, 1945 in Brooklyn, Pollack touched the lives of many people through her writing, teaching, as a Tarot authority, and as a Transgender activist. Her writings span from novels, short stories, poems, non fiction work on Tarot, and comics. In 1989 the Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Book was bestowed conferred for her Unquenchable Fire published the previous year. Temporary Agency was nominated for the 1995 Nebula Award and the Mythopoeic Award, and shortlisted for the Tiptree. Godmother Night won the 1997 World Fantasy Award, was shortlisted for the James Tiptree Jr. Award, and was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Literature. 78 Degrees of Wisdom may be the most widely referenced among her non fiction Tarot works.

Most notable among Pollack’s credits as a comics author are her Doom Patrol stories written from 1993 to 1995 for DC’s then relatively new Vertigo imprint. Following Grant Morrison’s groundbreaking run might have intimidated other writers but Pollack took the reins with aplomb. It was for Doom Patrol that Pollack created Coagula, AKA Kate Godwin, the first transgender superhero. Pollack then wrote the first eleven issues of the New Gods (volume 4) followed by the limited series Time Masters for DC’s Helix imprint, and stories featuring Tomahawk and Brother Power The Geek for Vertigo Visions anthology books. In 2022 Pollack collaborated with writer Joe Corallo and artists Eva Cabrera and Costanza Oroza on The Never Ending Party for Comixology and coming to print from Dark Horse. After being out of print for decades, DC recently collected her Doom Patrol stories with artists Richard Case and Ted McKeever.

Pollack was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and it was thought to have been successfully treated. However, in July of 2022 a new diagnosis of a different lymphoma was publicly shared.

In her book titled The Forest of Souls: A Walk Through the Tarot, Pollack wrote: “To learn to play seriously is one of the great secrets of spiritual exploration.”

Let us trust that in her lifetime Pollack did indeed play seriously. May her writing and insight continue to foster that sense of serious play in the hearts of those who know Pollack and her work and of those who have yet to discover the paths she strove to illuminate.

April 7, 2023
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