On October 19 through 21, several of us tarot enthusiasts gathered in Dallas, Texas to celebrate, practise, and live tarot together. Marcus Katz, Tali Goodwin, and their U.S. helpers called it into being. I’ll write more about all the facets of the conference in a second post. This post focuses on the re-emergence of the antique tarot decks and the non-tarot Lenormand cards that was evident at our gathering. Throughout the weekend, one could hear words and terms such as “Dodal, Viéville, Marseille, Noblet, and non-pictorial pips.”
Enrique Enriquez enriched our experience of the Marseille-style decks in his workshop, “Patois Physique”. Rana George enlightened us in the use of Lenormand cards. All of this brought home that my own entry into the world of tarot was through the 1JJ pack, a reproduction of a 19th century Swiss pack. I brought this deck into my after-dinner presentation on Saturday evening at the Tarosophy conference.
The presentation was based on two quotes:
- Hard thing to do — midwife the return of an ancient oracle. (Buckminster Fuller, inventor)
- Any oracle that endures must be of service to at least three consecutive generations. (Margaret Mead, anthropologist)
My purpose for bringing in these words was to honour the “ancient oracle” and “antique decks” themes of the conference and to invite all of us to wonder about our roles in bringing oracular ways and tools to the fore in service to our culture, especially in these precarious times which will either become the Great Unravelling or the Great Turning. I allowed a series of questions to arise from the Fuller and Mead quotes, then asked people assembled to draw cards from my 1JJ deck to respond to the questions. Here’s what we got:
- How can we midwife the return of the ancient oracle? Ace of Pentacles, reversed. We can remember its deep cthonic roots and plant seeds of long-term commitment to the process.
- How can we make the process easier? Empress, upright. We can allow the birth to occur naturally and we can act as parents as well as midwives.
- Of what service is the tarot to the current generation? 9 of Swords, reversed. It acts as a portable philosophy conference where many beliefs can converge in one place at one time.
- Of what service can the tarot be to the next generation? Queen of Cups, upright. For them, it can be a relationship expert and a catalyst for the mature expression of emotional content.
- How can we ensure that the oracle endures? 3 of Cups, upright. We can each clarify the nature of our relationship with the oracle, then we can promise to relate to it more often.
The presentation concluded with everyone joining hands and doing a call-and-response recitation of the last few lines of “To the Oracle at Delphi” by poet Lawrence Ferlenghetti:
Far-seeing Sybil, forever hidden, Come out of your cave at last And speak to us in the poet's voice the voice of the fourth person singular the voice of the inscrutable future the voice of the people mixed with a wild soft laughter-- And give us new dreams to dream, Give us new myths to live by!
This is only one piece of the Tarosophy conference in Dallas last week, one square of a marvellous quilt sewn together with a lot of soul and heart. More to come. Please offer your own impressions about the cards we picked in relation to the questions I posed in the comments section so that the conversation and re-emergence can continue.