Rachel Pollack’s Statement of Purpose From the Introduction for The Burning Serpent Oracle
This is a book about meanings. The meanings of a particular set of cards used for cartomancy—a term which means divination, or fortune-telling, done by cards that we mix or shuffle and then lay out in patterns. There are thirty-six cards in this deck, plus four variants, two of which are numbered 37 and 38, and two of which are simply alternatives to cards 28 and 29. The name of this deck is The Burning Serpent Oracle.
This is a book about a tradition, and a particular set of cards that go back some 160 years, named for a woman who died before the cards ever appeared. It looks at where those cards came from, their origin in a game, and how the game itself may have come out of fortune-telling.
It is a book about the whole tradition of what we call readings, and why we call them that. It looks at images, and what they mean, and why they mean, why a Mountain means obstacles, or a Jumping Fish money, or a Book of Life secrets. And it looks at how these images, these cards, speak to each other, how they come together to form stories, and how these stories can reveal things about a person’s life.