Reflecting on the Work of Eleanor Hammond
by Christopher McClure, Director of REDFeather Mind-Body-Spirit.
Eleanor Hammond was a remarkable personality. I first had the honor of meeting her in 2014 at the International New Age Trade Show where we were both exhibiting, I myself for REDFeather and she for a deck she had recently self-published. Since this was a New Age trade show, it was buzzing with all of the newest titles from publishers big and small, but this one woman from Australia and her deck stood out for a variety of reasons.
First, for the passion and grit she displayed just by making the several thousand-mile trek to get there. As I recall, it was a solo adventure that she had undertaken and shows like these take an enormous amount of energy. Not only to get there and set up, but also to then spend several days educating retailers and the general public about what has been created. Eleanor brimmed with a joy, however, that belied a deep knowledge and belief in what she had produced, and she was eager to tell anyone who would listen to what that was.
The deck that she had created and was there promoting was called My First Tarot, a deck we would ourselves at REDFeather eventually publish for the mass market. What made it unique was its innovative approach to Tarot reading. My First Tarot allows one to understand Tarot in just minutes. It’s a system that allows the reader to interpret what each card means based on its position in an eight-card spread. Each card in this 78-card deck shows keywords, time frames, and eight distinct meanings. The beauty of the system is that there is no confusion about what the cards mean when placed in the reading spread, as each meaning is written on every card! Her self-published version only featured a fold-out instruction poster, whereas REDFeather’s edition also includes a full guidebook to lead you through the cards’ deeper meanings. Readings address who you are, your distant and recent past, what’s happening now, influences, special advice, situations around you, and your future. All one has to do is shuffle the deck, lay out an eight-card spread, and read the messages for each card shown. That’s it!
Right from our initial exchange at the show and her explanation of her system, it was clear that she had struck upon an idea that could open up the wisdom of the Tarot for those who might be intimidated by divination and the fear of making a mistake or acting as a gateway to greater knowledge through reading Tarot. REDFeather published our edition of this deck in the Spring of 2017, and it was immediately met with praise for its innovation and clarity.
Concurrent with the release of My First Tarot, Eleanor received her Masters of Metaphysics degree and was working on an evolution of her idea that was targeted at specific kinds of Tarot reading; this eventually developed into her second Tarot deck: My First Relationship Tarot.
My First Relationship Tarot was released in the Summer of 2018 and built upon the excitement of her first deck by exploring the truth and insights available via a new 78-card lighthearted yet empowering look at Tarot concentrating entirely on relationships. Once again, each card detailed eight situational meanings to ensure accuracy for immediate and comprehensive readings for readers of any ability level. It also featured a specialized layout map and guidebook to assist the learning process by offering deeper associations that allow you to understand relationships in ways not previously revealed. It’s as simple as shuffling, drawing eight or more cards, and placing them as shown on the layout map. Just read the boxes for each card, and you have your answers! Simple, quick, accurate, and another example of Eleanor’s talent for making what may appear complex and intimidating, instead clear and simple. Never one to rest when inspiration was at hand (which seemed to be a constant for her), Eleanor had already finished what would be her next teaching tool: A Course in Tarot.
In our conversations, Eleanor was always passionate in her belief that the Tarot provides accurate insight into emotions, life events, relationships, career, family situations, and much more. A Course In Tarot, which was released in the Fall of 2018, provides easy-to-understand techniques to apply the wisdom of the Tarot to one’s life with any deck. Because everyone is at different learning stages, the lessons cover the basics all the way through the deepening influences for seasoned readers. Taking a different approach than other course books, the program instructs students to comprehend in simple terms where each Tarot card originates and how to make personal links to each card. Once that’s identified, you realize that you’ve already experienced each circumstance described in the Tarot, which makes it personal and therefore simple to read the cards. The book includes exercises, an in-depth reading look-up sheet, test questions with answers, and there are even instructions on how to create your own deck. With the release of A Course in Tarot, Eleanor decided to travel back to the US the next year to promote it and we arranged for her to do a book signing at The Reader’s Studio, a highly regarded conference for Tarot professionals held each year in New York City. This was going to be followed by several other stops in the US culminating with her return to INATS. However, the universe had other plans.
Eleanor passed away in early 2019, but her legacy lives on in what she has created, for she had the Soul of a teacher. We honor an innovator in the world of metaphysics and divination, whose passion for the subject fueled a desire to create works that looked at Tarot with fresh eyes and gave both new students and seasoned professionals a way to engage with this time-honored practice in unique ways. Her innovative methods serve as gateways to the next level of understanding, as all great teachers do.