Twenty-six of us gathered in a social room in downtown Toronto last Saturday, March 10 for a day of exploring tarot and enjoying the company of fellow tarot enthusiasts. “Surrender to surprise” (a phrase by Christina Baldwin) was the theme to start the day. Two presenters, Bev and Monica, had to bow out for personal reasons. Having four presenters instead of six gave us longer workshops (75 minutes each) which worked out fine. Another presenter, Peter, was stuck in traffic, but on his way (he did make it!). People were gracious about the changes.
I began the day with The Power of Personal Layouts, a discussion and hands-on experience of creating and using one’s own tarot spreads instead of relying on generic pre-fabricated ones. The intention was to remember context (the card in this position is about THIS, not that) and to ask our WisdomSource via the card the questions we really need to ask about our issues and topics rather than hope that a generic textbook spread will do the job. As people did readings in partners, I delighted in the variety of self-generated layouts, anywhere from three cards in a row to 12 or more cards in complex geometric patterns. Participants amazed themselves as their specific spread questions netted more specific responses from the tarot!
Peter LeBlanc offered the group correlations between astrological concepts and the tarot, particularly relating the 10 planets and 12 zodiacal signs to the 22 cards of the Major Arcana. We were invited to think of a particular planet and sign in our birthchart, pull out the two Majors that represent them, and journal about what emerged for us. Then we pulled a third card from anywhere in the pack to find out what we most need to know about that particular part of us at this time. I looked at my Moon in Cancer through La Papesse and Le Chariot of the Tarot de Marseille (Camoin-Jodorowsky version). The Queen of Wands reversed came up for what I need to know about that part of myself now. The combinations that I came up with included:
- The place of alive stillness is the home of the soul’s maturation.
- Being a warrior for the cause of the Feminine brings my soul to fruition.
- The inner subversive controller is finally growing up!
- I’m in tune with the journey of the most mature expression of my soul.
The lunch break was not only for eating. Folks caught up with each other after a long time and got to know new people better. Decks were shared. There were many “Oh yum!” moments about my copy of the newly released Mary-El Tarot.
Marilyn Shannon made sure that the post-lunch drowsies didn’t set in. She took us into our alter-ego fortune-teller personae, a lively activity she learned from Rachel Pollack some time ago. It was fun to become Count Angus whose mother was a faery, whose daddy was a laird, and whose tarot deck was a series of 78 drawings on fish skins. Luckily, the person with whom I was paired for the exercise had a good sense of humour as my character made grand pronouncements about the lazy louts in her life who want to impregnate her and how she’d need to get them out of her life by tying them to horses and sending them over a cliff. Ha! The silliness really took us/me into a space of liberated imagination and into some occasional bang-on intuitive hits, which was Marilyn’s whole purpose for having us be the un-be-able tarot reader.
Magic and Ritual Through the Tarot, led by Andrew McGregor, reminded us of the power of ceremony in our lives and how that power can help us shape our intentions. He offered us a six-card layout that allowed us to craft a ceremony with a beginning, middle, and end to transform ourselves or attract something into our lives. The first card, the intention card, is chosen consciously from the face-up deck and the rest — the cards that suggest how we begin, end, and carry out the ceremony — are picked at random. My reflections on the spread that came up for me using the Medicine Woman Tarot revealed that a circle I was to be part of the next morning would serve as the best container for the ritual I needed to perform. Whew! Andrew’s idea that we create our own associations with the cards for activities, plants, incenses, stones, etc. was wise advice. The most powerful rituals and associations in our lives are those we create ourselves.
We closed the day with a panel question and answer session, an opportunity for participants to ask questions about using the tarot and to have all four presenters respond. Topics included reversals, delivering difficult/”bad” news, doing third-party readings, the presenters’ favourite tarot decks, and much more. I liked that each presenter agreed on several things while having totally different approaches to others. There was space for all of it to be heard.
Thank you to my fellow presenters. Thank you to all who attended. And thank you to Candice Green for doing a lot of legwork on location. I’ll see you all with your friends at next year’s Toronto Tarot Symposium!