Several enthusiasts of many levels gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn near Dallas, Texas to engage with one another and with our favourite tool, the tarot, on October 19 and 20. It was so good to be with my friends and peers in an intentional way. Several meaningful, useful presentations and workshops were on the menu and great conversations and a lot of fun happened in between. As ever, there were wonderful tarot-related goodies for us to purchase. I got myself one deck — Tarot 3D — and a splendid tarot-themed silk scarf.
DAY ONE: Saturday, October 19.
In the morning, before the proceedings began, I journalled these questions and responses: What do I seek here? I seek to feel the sense of connection I get at these events. A lot like a family reunion. What else do I seek here? What draws me here this weekend? The chance to “do my thing” as a tarot teacher/mentor. And to learn something I can apply to my tarot work. Why is it important for me to “do my thing” as a tarot teacher? Because it’s such a huge part of who I am.
The first workshop of the day was Interactive Tarot Readings facilitated by the warm and wise Mary Greer. Mary began by asking us to jot down our response to the question, “What is it that you offer as a tarot reader?” My own words were: I offer an encounter with your inner teacher via tarot symbols and strategic questions that allows you to gain insight, respond to life creatively, and become who you always intended to be. Then, in partners, we guided each other through an experience of a tarot card in response to a question. My question was, “What do I most need to know or learn about my tarot counselling practice at this time?” My reading partner, Spencer, and I guided one another through the four-step process that Mary offered: a literal description of the card, a description of the emotions and atmosphere in the card, making up a fairy tale based on the image, and turning perceived helpful qualities in the card into an affirmation. The Page of Cups (from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck) yielded this summary in response to my question: I, James, surprise myself and others with my deep curiosity and connective objectivity.
The second session, offered by Marcus Katz was a presentation rooted in research that he and Tali Goodwin did around the six-month period when Pamela Colman Smith created the now-famous Rider-Waite (-Smith) tarot deck, from June through November, 1909. I was drawn in by the story of the events and places of that time which were, in Marcus’s words, an idyl for the artist. Marcus showed photographs of places in and around the town of Winchelsea where PCS was staying at the time. Many sounds of “oh” and “ah” filled the room as we recognised features on buildings and in the landscape as influences for the tarot pictures we now treasure. We also learned and used two spreads — a three-card relationship layout based on the Ace, Two, and Three of Cups and a layout about one’s idyl (how one left it and how one can return to it) — and came up with brief theatrical pieces (PCS was deeply connected with the theatre) by employing two court cards and one pip card. This presentation was both an experience of creative delight and a poignant tribute to an under-appreciated artist and les temps perdu.
Late afternoon brought us a choice of breakout sessions. I chose Sheilaa Hite’s workshop, The Tarot, Past Lives and Karma. I’m not a person who is much interested in whether a past life really is a past life or whether it’s a concurrent life or simply a story that our unconscious weaves to help us learn something, but I wanted to take part in a session that isn’t my usual thing. Sheilaa kept it meaningful, useful, and grounded. Her handouts were clear and she merged depth and mirth with grace. We were shown what karmic issues related to specific Major Arcana cards, suits, and Minor cards in Sheilaa’s system. The two spreads that we worked with — a three-card layout with a few possible position meanings and a five-card “Have We Met?” layout — are very useful for examining precise life situations and connections with other people. I certainly gained insight into a particular arena of my life when the final card in the three-card spread was a card that relates to my primary Jungian Function. Pieces fit into place! And the cards that showed up in the “Have We Met?” spread provided me with great comfort, a sense of “aahh…”, as they mirrored a lovely relationship that I enjoy. A gratifying presentation.
After a delicious and filling dinner, Katrina Wynne presented Sexual Symbolism in the Tarot. In some hands, this topic could be a surface-scratching romp. In Katrina’s hands, the session was an eloquent exploration of gender, symbols, energy, movement, sensuality, emotion, and so much more. Multiple levels of the topic of sexuality were discussed. I appreciated Katrina’s awareness of, and sensitivity to, the many modes and configurations of sexual expression in our world. Everything from sex as union with the Divine to sexy tarot games one can play with one’s partner(s) was covered. We concluded with a three-card process. The first two cards were chosen from one’s face-up tarot deck to respond to “Your Current Sexual Experience” and “Your Sexual Ideal — Sexual High Dream”. The third card, chosen in the “usual” random way, was a commentary on “How to Bridge These Two States of Being”. The Five of Cups that I received spoke to me of vulnerability.
As I write this blog piece, I’m aware of the importance of the suit of Cups in Day One. This speaks to relating to one another as a tarot tribe, going deep, allowing flow and feelings to be present, allowing intuition to come into our sacred container.
Stay tuned for Part Two!
Images from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck by Pamela Colman Smith and Arthur Edward Waite.